A Boston College philosophy professor—dubbed the “dating professor” for offering extra credit for students who go on first dates—says that dating has become “a weirdly countercultural thing to do.”
In Kerry Cronin’s class, the unconventional assignment used to be mandatory, but now is offered for extra credit, because students would ask someone on a date, but often didn’t follow through.
“I realized at that point that the social script of dating was really long gone,” Cronin told The Washington Post.
The guidelines for Cronin’s extra credit assignment:
- The student must ask the other person out in person. That’s because, she says, “Texting is the devil. Stop it.”
- They must know it’s a date, but there can be no alcohol or touching.
- The date can’t cost more than $10 and is paid for by the person who asked the other out.
- The date can last no more than 90 minutes, because “nobody’s interesting after three hours,” she says.
For students worried about rejection, Cronin says, acceptance of rejection is “a great skill to build, so that you can have a thicker skin.”
The “dating professor” notes that getting married seems far off for today’s college students. The median age for marrying in the United States is 29.5 years old for men and 27.4 years old for women. In 1950, the median age for marrying for both men and women was in the early 20s—22.8 years old for men and 20.3 for women.
Additionally, fewer 20-somethings are married today than in the past. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1960, 68 percent of them were married, but by 2008, just 26 percent were.
With the decline in marriage rates and the rising average age of people getting married, fewer of Cronin’s students have been on dates than in the past.
One reason for this decline is that students have prioritized finding a job out of college over getting married, owing in part to the excessive student loan debt they rack up.
Cronin says that students’ parents are urging them not to “get caught up in a relationship now.”
“[They] need to get [their] career set and on track before [they] even really start thinking about that,” she says.
Because of today’s “hypersexualized” culture, Cronin adds, students focus more on sex than on “the foibles and the hard work and the joys and the despair of just casual dating.”
Her project has led to marriages, and one couple had their first child, who is now 15 months old, but Cronin says, “Not everybody is called to romantic relationship. Not everyone is called to marriage.”
She adds, “But everybody’s called to relationships. That’s what it means to be human.”
A new documentary, “The Dating Project,” explores the dating scene for students participating in Cronin’s assignment.