The idea for a column in the paper about dating began at the start of 2018. It was like an itch at the back of my brain; the idea just sat there and continued to pick at me. A couple months later, after solidifying the thought and doing some research, I realized that this could actually be something. This column will continue next semester as well.
To be completely honest, the dating experience here is weird. There are a lot of good people with a lot of good intentions, but it seems as though nobody really knows how to do this. We’ve been told since we were three that when we hit that certain point in our life, we will start dating people seriously and get married and be happy forever. We all know it isn’t that easy.
The dating game has changed since our parents were dating. In college, my dad would go on a date with a different girl every weekend and that was the norm. If you did that now-a-days, you would be called a player.
As time has gone on, it has become more difficult for us to imagine what our parents dating experience was like, and it’s hard for them to fathom what our dating life is like. For example, they say, “Back when I was a kid you actually had to call their house phone and talk to their parents before you talked to who you liked!” Or, “We actually talked to people, not just snap-messaged them or whatever it’s called.”
Most of our parents were born between 1958 and 1980, more or less. According to genhq.com, these years include the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers generation. Their technology was different.
In 2012, Pew Research Center did a study on teens and how they communicate with friends. They found that 19 percent of teens talked to friends on their home phones (probably because those don’t exist anymore) and 39 percent of them talked with friends on their cell phone. 63 percent of teens texted their friends, and I can only imagine that percentage has increased with time.
Times have changed. That’s a good thing. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Technology and transportation have changed since our parents were kids, and people don’t even bat an eye. Why is the change in dating such a big deal?
I think the issue is in the change of how we communicate. Parents see it as an issue that their children don’t know how to communicate with others because they spend so much time with their technology.
Rob Wright, a psychology teacher at BYU-Idaho, did a study in 2017 about how technology usage affects feelings of loneliness. He found the longer amount of time a person spends on social media, the more likely they are to feel lonely. This study was focused on students of religious schools, but it caught the attention of the Church and they contacted Wright.
When this study came out, I had the opportunity to talk to him. He shared with me his concerns with people not communicating with each other and just walking around with headphones in.
Cole Ratcliffe, a marriage and family teacher at BYU-I, said there is something healthy “for our souls” in communicating with a person face to face not through a phone.
Two seniors studying marriage and family, Amanda Smith and Chelsea Geren, feel the same way.
They both experienced uncomfortable and awkward dating situations at BYU-I. As a senior project, they created a website to promote healthy dating habits because they wanted to provide free resources to others to be able to recognize the “red flags” (unhealthy habits) and know how to improve or prevent them.
Their website also includes challenges for people to do to get out of their comfort zone. One of these challenges is to talk with someone you don’t know to find if you have anything in common. Smith said she felt people needed to apply what they learn.
“If you don’t put it (what someone is learning) into effect you are not going to learn anything,” Smith said. “We want people to have those challenges to be more motivated to make a change.”
You see? Students are seeing an issue and are doing things about it. Last week I talked about students across the country who are creating a safe dating app, and now there are people on our campus who are striving to make a difference in the dating experience here.
The greatest thing you can give someone is your time. Be present when you’re with someone. Look people in the face. Put down your phone and talk to people.
While times have changed since our parents were dating, we can create a positive and influential environment to create long-lasting friendships and promote good times. And who knows, you might even find your eternal companion in the process.