Restoring Courtship in a Hook-Up Culture: the Dating Project



I am an avid reader of the National Catholic Register.  I especially like the Culture of Life section which focuses on living a Catholic life in a secular world whether that be in Danbury CT or around the world.  This article was in there most recent issue.

Restoring Courtship in a Hook-Up Culture: ‘The Dating Project’ Young adults discuss modern relationship woes in a new documentary.
Ella Hadacek
The Dating Project follows five young adults — college-aged to age 40 — from various cities around the United States as they look for commitment and a genuine connection with a member of the opposite sex in a society that increasingly shies away from romantic relationships.  It highlights the dating dearth in an authentic way.
The film, which will be in 600 theaters around the United States April 17 only, is based on a class taught by Boston College philosophy professor and Catholic Kerry Cronin.
In her class, Cronin — who is called “the dating prof” around campus — gives her students an unconventional extra-credit assignment: Go on a date.
Why Aren’t People Dating?
Cronin says she started giving the assignment because the students she encountered had no idea how to date. That problem doesn’t just appear on college campuses. The documentary reveals that, across the U.S., the struggle to go on a date — let alone start a meaningful relationship — is pervasive.

“Around the late ’80s and the early ’90s, on college and university campuses, the dating script sort of fell off the radar, and the hook-up culture took hold. ‘Hooking up’ had been around for a while — maybe forever — but it really took hold in the party scene,” Cronin told the Register.
“The culture stepped further along into that, and for a while, dating was running parallel with the culture, and then dating sort of dissolved. The hypersexualization of culture also moved sexual intimacy to the forefront and moved courtship to the background.”
One young woman in the documentary, when asked what dating was, glibly replied, “Something I’d like to be doing more of.”
According to a Pew Research report, 61% of Americans under the age of 35 are living alone without a spouse or partner.
“What has the society come to that it has made it so difficult for us to connect to someone on an emotional, spiritual level — to actually embrace the meaning of love?” a young man interviewed on the street asks in the documentary.
Cronin says that the non-dating trend isn’t because young adults don’t want to date. Rather, they don’t know how to start dating, or they’re afraid to initiate a relationship because experience tells them it will become intense too quickly. She blames that on the way sexual intimacy has been moved to earlier in a relationship by modern culture.
“That is one of the main projects of my dating assignment: to bring back casual — low stakes — dating,” said Cronin. “Dating is high stakes partly because of the way our sexualized culture has hijacked dating. That is not to say that I think people are having sex earlier or more in young adulthood. In fact, the research shows quite the opposite, but the cultural signaling is indicating that we have to move major physical and emotional intimacy way up, early in dating.”
For the majority of people, that means courtship falls by the wayside, and sexual assertiveness becomes central to dating. For people who don’t want to have sex outside of marriage in order to adhere to the Church’s teachings on chastity, that sometimes means relationships end before they even begin because the other person is unwilling to have a relationship without sex.
Others avoid relationships altogether because they’re afraid of getting hurt when things get too intense. Cronin says that, often, couples jump into serious relationships without laying a foundation because they introduce physical intimacy too early in their relationship, to the detriment of hearts and souls.
As Cronin said, “When we say things with our bodies that we’re not ready to say with our words, we get into a muddle.”
Fixing the Problem
Cronin said that because modern culture doesn’t support dating, it’s much harder for men to ask women out on a date. For that reason, she doesn’t think men should have to do all of the pursuing.
“It’s really hard to ask people out on dates; it takes a lot of courage. I don’t think we should lean on men to be the only people who display courage,” Cronin said. “We all need to kind of step up a little bit, especially because it’s such a difficult countercultural thing right now.
Men don’t have a lot of cultural support on how to be a courageous man, so I think women and men need to bear the burden of courage together.”
Ella Hadacek writes from Idaho.
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Learning Where God Wants You to Be

Peter Freed by Angel acts-5-17-26The reading this morning from Acts 5: 17-26 has an angel of the Lord releasing Peter and the Apostles from prison so they can be preaching in the Temple area to the suprise of the Sanhedrin in the morning!

The magazine Word Among Us, which I read everyday and recommend to you, had an excellent short piece from this reading this morning about learning where God’s wants you to be.  It follows below:

Go and take your place in the temple area. (Acts 5:20) 

It’s a dramatic scene. The full council of Jewish elders has assembled for the trial of Jesus’ apostles. But a report comes that the apostles have disappeared from the jail and are once more preaching in the Temple precincts. Just as the angel had told them to, they took their “place,” both geographically and spiritually.  

You have a place where God wants you to be as well. Every day, you face countless decisions. Some are immediate, like what to have for lunch or which route to take to the gas station. Some are more long-term, like choosing a career path or deciding where to live. And others occupy a middle ground, like deciding whether to speak to a family member about your faith or choosing to speak up about a contentious social issue. It’s these medium and long-term decisions that God wants to help you make. He has a place for you in this world, and he wants to help you discover it. 

So how can we find our place? The first and best way has to do with habits—the habit of inviting the Lord into our decision making and the habit of listening for the Spirit’s gentle promptings. 

Neither of these habits comes easily. We are accustomed to making our own decisions or reacting immediately to a situation rather than listening for God’s guidance. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. In truth, there is no magic formula that fits all circumstances. The only thing we can do is keep trying to get into the habit. Over time, God’s voice will become clearer, and we’ll find our place more easily. 

According to Brother Lawrence, the seventeenth-century monk behind the book The Practice of the Presence of God, “In the beginning a persistent effort is needed, . . . but after a little care, his love brings us to it.” At every crossroad, you can take up this “persistent effort.” In a challenging situation, pray, “Your will be done,” and spend just a moment or two to sense the Lord’s leading. When a big decision comes up, seek God’s guidance in prayer. Give it time. Be patient with yourself. Trust that God uses every effort of yours to mold you and place you exactly where he wants you. 

“Lord, open my ears to hear you and my heart to sense you. Show me my place in your kingdom.” 

Word Among Us