TIME Sex

Why the ‘Hookup Generation’ Does Not Need to Learn How to Date

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Hero Images—Getty Images/Hero Images

Exploring the absurdity of a Boston College class that requires students to go on dates

Over the weekend, an article in the Boston Globe highlighted a class at Boston College in which the professor offers extra credit to students if they ask another student out on a date. (The date is mandatory in another one of her seminars.) The rules: it must be a legitimate love interest; they must ask in person (not via text, etc.); the love interest cannot know the date is an assignment; and the date must last 45-90 minutes and cannot involve any sexual contact. Professor Kerry Cronin argues that the exercise will teach college kids ingrained in the so-called “hookup culture” the lost art of dating.

Well I’m here to inform that professor that we 20-somethings don’t need help, thank you very much.

It’s true that dating has probably become less common on college campuses since the 1950s—or at least the Archie Comics version of dating where a boy and a girl sip a milkshake together through two straws. Instead college kids have discovered an even better way to find a significant other.

Professor Cronin has three main concerns: college students no longer have the confidence to ask one another out on dates; so they instead resort to group hangouts, which erodes the dating culture; and hookups have supplanted relationships. Let me address these concerns one at a time.

I’ll concede that the number of college kids asking each other out on dates in person has probably dropped significantly. According to a 2012 Pew Research poll, 63 percent of teens exchange texts with their friends every day while only 35 percent engage in face-to-face socializations with those same people outside of school. Asking a boy or girl out via text is safer: the rejection feels less harsh on the screen than in person.

And yet despite the fact that we like to hide behind our screens, we don’t need Cronin’s lesson in “doing something courageous,” as one of Cronin’s student describes it. Two college kids may be much more likely to kiss before one of them ever asks the other out on an actual date. But I would argue that it takes as much—if not more—courage to lean in for the first kiss as it does to ask someone out.

So how do we find these mates to kiss? Often, college kids meet potential love interests hanging out in groups with friends and friends of friends or at parties. I often felt in college that hanging out with someone I liked among friends allowed me to get to know him better than going on a 45-minute date alone ever would. Spending time in extracurriculars or in social situations with a crush always made me feel much more comfortable with him once we actually began to go out and a lot more sure that I wanted to be with him.

Parties, too, felt like a much more natural venue to talk to someone than a crowded Starbucks. Dates can feel contrived, whereas a party feels organic. Being surrounded by people, music and activities gives you something to talk about. Your friends could always help you or bail you out of a bad situation. And of course there’s the liquid courage.

Before addressing the myth of hookup culture, I’ll point out that dating isn’t dead on college campuses. An informal survey of my female friends found that each had been asked out at least one time by a boy she’d never even kissed before in college. These dates, if accepted, succeeded or failed at about the same rate as a random-hookup-turned-consistent-relationship did.

But what is really at the root of my informal dating tutorial is the mass panic about college hookup culture, which is way overblown. Every few months there seems to be a renewed hysteria surrounding Generation X’s inability to commit to relationships, and every few months I endeavor to debunk this hookup culture myth. So here are the facts again:

1. “Hookup culture” refers from anything from kissing to sex

So don’t freak out, parents. “Random hookups” can often mean just kissing.

2. A very small percentage of college kids are participating in this hookup culture

Less than 15 percent of students “hookup”—meaning anything ranging from kissing to sex—more than twice per year.

3. That very small percentage is about the same as the number of people who were having uncommitted sex in past generations

A 1967 study by the Institute for Sex Research found that 68% of college men and 44% of college women reported having engaged in premarital sex—around the same as the 64 percent reported at my alma mater. Another study that compared a survey on sexual practices from 1988-1996 to one from 2004-2012 found that respondents from the later survey did not report more sexual partners, more frequent sex or more partners during the past year than respondents from the earlier survey.

4. Most college students are actually looking for a committed relationship

A study by the American Psychological Association in February 2013 found that 63 percent of college men and 83 percent of college women would prefer a traditional relationship to uncommitted sex.

5. Most students having sex are doing so with one partner consistently

The same study that compared sex practices in the 80s and 90s to now found that 78.2% of those recently surveyed reported that their sexual partner was either a spouse or a significant other, compared to 84.5% in the survey from the ’80s and ’90s.

So yes, some college students will make out with one another at a party—maybe more—and then arrange to see one another again via text message. But many of those encounters result in dates and, eventually, relationships. As Richard McAnulty, an associate professor in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte points out in the Globe article, the majority of college students actually practice “serial monogamy,” in which they have consecutive, exclusive relationships. The dates are still there, they just come later—after college kids are sure they’re interested in someone else and that there’s a possibility of a longer commitment. After all, aren’t dates more enjoyable when they’re with someone you already know that you like and are sexually attracted to?

And besides, there will be plenty of time post-graduation for awkward first dates arranged by mutual friends or a myriad of dating apps (OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Tinder and Hinge to name a few). They’ll sit and explain their jobs and their majors and what they like to do for fun. It will be always uncomfortable, sometimes pleasant, occasionally horrifying. But they’ll learn how to date in the way Cronin wants.

For now, college students, enjoy four years of choosing your boyfriends and girlfriends from a group of like-minded peers whose full name and interests you’ll already know by your first date.

TIME Dating

Looking for Single Guys? Try the Great Plains

Cavan Images ;Getty Images

Small towns are losing more women than men, says a new study.

Small rural towns are losing young women faster than they’re losing young men, a new study of the population of Kansas and Nebraska shows. For some of the really tiny places, the ratio of men to women doubled in the 10 years.

But before checking the Nebraska real estate listings, women should realize the imbalance might be because there’s not as much for women to do work wise out there.

Robert Shepard, a doctoral researcher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who did the study, says rural communities need to think about opportunities for young women as they make their development plans. “There’s a lot of awareness that younger people are leaving rural communities,” said Shepard. “Where some of the men come back, because there are a lot of traditionally male jobs like agriculture and industry to return to, many rural communities don’t often provide the same opportunities to women.”

In more than half the of 1,627 places with fewer than 800 residents that Shepard looked at, the ratio of young men to young women increased between 2000 and 2010. Census data showed that the median increase wasn’t that huge: just 7%, but some very small communities saw very big gaps opening up between the number of men and women. The average increase was about 40%.

Shepard looked at the ratio of boys to girls aged between 12 and 17 in 2000 and then looked at the ratio of young men and women aged between 22 and 27 in 2010. He found a significant drop off in young women. The years between 17 and 27 are when people go off to college. Since more women are becoming more educated with every decade, it could be that the small town women are not coming back, although Shepard isn’t so sure. “Industrial and agricultural jobs still heavily favor women,” he says. “I’m not sure if that’s institutional or because women don’t choose to work in those fields.”

The numbers would certainly accord with other data that suggests there are many more women than men in metropolitan areas. Washington DC, Boston and New York skew paricularly female with some reports saying the Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick area of Maryland has 20% more women. This is also true of metro areas in the plains like Topeka, Kansas and Scottsbluff, Neb. where there are more women than male peers. Genderwise, “even middle sized communities are more stable,” says Shepard.

Why aren’t women making their little homes on the prairies? In previous studies, women have cited the low level of career opportunities and high level of patriarchy. “Anecdotally, I hear both stories from people,” says Shepard. “A lot just feel women don’t have a very big place. But they might not say so right away. No-one wants to say their hometown is sexist. “

One thing Shepard noticed, however, was that the imbalance wasn’t universal. Some places that had a high ratio of guys bordered counties with a higher proportion of women. Because the numbers are so small it’s hard to get funding to study the root causes of the female-drain from small towns, so it may be a while until that’s sorted out. Probably wise to postpone booking the U-Haul until then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME Leaders

This is How Much a Date With Ben Bernanke, Formerly the World’s Most Powerful Man, Costs

Ben Bernanke Gives Speech At Brookings Institution In Washington
Alex Wong—Getty Images

Want to talk quantitative easing and fiscal policy over cocktails with the man who held the financial balance of the world in his hands for the last several years? Too bad, he’s taken.

Some financial wonk out there just paid $70,500 for a lunch date with Ben Bernanke, former Federal Reserve chairman. Bernanke, who led the Fed from 2006 to 2014 and was TIME’s 2009 Person of the Year for his role in guiding U.S. policy during the financial crisis, donated his time through the website Charitybuzz. Proceeds from the meeting will benefit the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, another key player in the financial crisis, is a slightly less sought after lunch companion. His date went for $50,000, according to CNN Money.

Neither lunch price compares to the going rate for some private-sector bigwigs Charitybuzz has auctioned. Someone paid $610,000 to sip coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook for 30 minutes.
[CNN Money]

TIME relationships

Why Women in Relationships Turn a Blind Eye to Attractive Men

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Kevin Dodge—Getty Images/Blend Images RM

A study shows that coupled-off females focus more on a man's negative traits—as long as they're not dating him.

Men have one less reason to worry about their girlfriend or wife’s wandering eye. According to new research in the International Association for Relationship Research’s journal Personal Relationships, women in relationships focus on the negative qualities of attractive men they aren’t dating.

In other words, a woman in a relationship is biased against a man she could potentially be interested in if she were single. This notion is already supported in research about looks — studies have shown men and women in relationships are less likely to pay attention to attractive people they aren’t dating — but now, a group of social scientists has set out to prove the same may be true for heterosexual women’s interactions with attractive men.

Researchers conducted three experiments on the participants. In the first two experiments, women were asked to recall behavioral traits of good-looking, potential suitors. Undergraduate women, both in relationships and not, were presented with pictures of men deemed — scientifically, of course — attractive, along with scenarios like whether they were late to appointments (boo!) or bought groceries for grandma (aw!).

After the photos were removed, the women were asked to write down which scenarios they recalled. In two out of the three experiments, researchers found that women in relationships were more likely to remember negative behavior exhibited by hotties when compared to their single counterparts. In the third study, women recalled the less-than-ideal traits of attractive men more than they recalled those of people they would not date, which in this case were other women (who were used as a control).

This isn’t an all-out win for people in relationships, though. For one, the study isn’t based on actual interactions — women were merely presented with pictures and information about the potential mates, though in one study they were convinced they were chatting with the men. Another obvious limitation of the study: researchers only surveyed heterosexual women.

Regardless, the study hints that a woman’s relationship status can make her immune to a man she might otherwise find good-looking. Good news for boyfriends and husbands everywhere.

TIME society

Dating Show Contestant Reveals He Murdered Wife And Mistress, But Is Still Looking For Love

Ladies, he's single

When it comes to looking for love, maybe skip the dating shows and hitch a ride on the hook-up truck instead.

While honesty is usually the best policy, Sefer Calinak, a man looking for love on a Turkish dating show, missed his chance to meet a potential wife when he got a little too open and honest too quickly.

The 62-year old shocked the audience of Flash TV’s The Luck of The Draw by admitting — on air — that he had murdered his first wife and later killed a lover with an axe during an argument.

Calinak said he killed his first wife, a cousin, when they were both 17. As is common with young love, things didn’t work out. Less common, Calinak killed her and was sentenced to 13 years in prison, serving four before being released due to an amnesty.

He then started an affair with a married woman and when she refused to leave her husband for him, they argued and he “accidentally” killed her with an axe. “I killed her after she tried to kill me,” he said according to Hurriyet Daily News. “She was accidentally killed when I swung the ax.” He then served another six years in prison, before heading to the bright lights of television to look for love.

According to USA Today, the show’s producer knew that Calinak had murdered someone, but he was allowed to appear on the show because he had served his legal sentence.

In the game show’s defense, the host did ask Calinak to leave after he confessed to the second murder.

As for us, we’re sticking to that cupcake on Tinder.

[Via USA Today]

MORE: This Is the Most Glorious Way to Respond to Creepy Tinder Advances

MORE: E.T. Is Right Here: Lost Atari Cartridges Unearthed in New Mexico Dump

TIME

China’s Tinder Plots IPO in the Shadow of Anti-Porn Crackdown

Chinese officials launch a ceremony to d
Chinese officials launch a ceremony to destroy thousands of pornographic books and video materials in Beijing on April 24, 2011. AFP/Getty Images

China's dating app has 120 million user profiles, some of which may be too hot for Beijing

China’s dating app Momo has 120 million users, a possible valuation of $2 billion, and an ongoing flirtation with U.S. banks, eager to get a piece of the action should the company go public on a U.S. stock exchange, but a few of the racier user profiles have investors on edge.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some of the photos could run afoul of China’s widening crackdown on internet pornography. A reporter from state news service Xinhua logged onto the app in a popular bar district of Beijing and reportedly found scantily clad women “wearing bikinis to show off their physiques” and profiles suggestive of escort services. The salacious details may not shock users of dating sites the world over, but in China, the pictures can trigger regulatory crackdowns. Web companies Sina and Sohu.com have seen their publishing licenses revoked for explicit content.

In an email to the Journal, a company spokesperson insisted the company supported the government’s crackdown and would expand its team of internal censors from 60 to 100 employees, saying its commercial interests were “totally incompatible with lewd and sexual content.”

[WSJ]

TIME Sex

Another Study Shows That ‘Hookup Culture’ Is a Myth

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Paul Bradbury—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

Parents had just as much sex in college as their kids are having now

A gaggle of sociologists and think-piece writers have been saying that young adults don’t have time to invest in relationships and therefore are treating their romantic lives with reckless abandon and having sex with random strangers. But despite pundits’ outcries that the moral fiber of America is decaying as college students ditch dating in favor of “hookup culture,” it turns out the sexual practices of millennials aren’t that different from those of their parents.

A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research compares a survey on sexual practices from 1988-1996 to one from 2004-2012. Researchers from the University of Portland found that respondents from the later survey did not report more sexual partners after the age 18, more frequent sex or more partners during the past year than respondents from the earlier survey. “We find no evidence of substantial changes in sexual behavior that would indicate a new or pervasive pattern of non-relational sex among contemporary college students,” the researchers conclude.

In fact, most people are still having sex with a regular partner rather than with random people. According to the new study, 78.2% of those recently surveyed reported that their sexual partner was either a spouse or a significant other, compared to 84.5% in the survey from the ’80s and ’90s. The researchers chalk up the differences in responses to the earlier set of people surveyed containing a higher proportion of married people. This isn’t surprising news since marriage rates are going down and people are getting married later.

We’ve known for a while now that the media hype surrounding hookup culture is overblown: Less than 15% of college students “hook up” more than twice per year—and that definition of “hook up” ranges from kissing to intercourse. Almost a year ago I wrote that the sex lives of college students today aren’t all that different from their parents and their grandparents, citing surveys from the 1960s and 70s that show students were having as much sex then as they are now. But despite all the evidence to the contrary, there’s been so much coverage of this nonexistent new hookup culture that some students are feeling left out if they are not having tons of casual sex.

So parents, don’t worry. Your kids aren’t doing anything you didn’t do in college…Well, except for maybe sending naked SnapChats.

TIME Dating

Here Are the 10 Best Prom-posals of Prom Season

Because a text message that says "yo, prom?" just doesn't cut it anymore

It’s the first week of May, which means it’s time for allergies, Cinco de Mayo sombreros, and elaborate romantic gestures by barely post-pubescent teenagers! That’s right, it’s prom-posal season, the most awkward time of the year.

If you don’t know already, prom-posals are when high schoolers ask each other to prom with the level of pomp and circumstance that rivals an actual engagement. Some high schools are gripped by prom-posal hysteria and some aren’t. For those who have found their high schools littered with rose petals and graffiti this week, you’re not alone.

Of course, kids have been asking each other out in elaborate ways ever since the romantic comedies of the ’80s and ’90s gave us all unrealistic expectations of prom (thank you, She’s All That.) The first official prom-posal of recorded history occurred in 2001, or at least that’s the first one to make the papers, but over-the-top prom-posals have become even more frequent in the age of social media. Because what’s the point of asking someone out if you can’t post pictures of it?

Here are the 10 best prom-posals of the internet, courtesy of the @ThePromposal Twitter feed.

The History Buff One:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/457575787802398720

The One from the Knight and His Noble Steed:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/462332950890045440

The Worst Pun One:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/456246403279626241

The One for Someone Who Loves Frozen:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/452159128862228480

The One that Kills Two Birds With One Stone:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/451165277330608128

The One That Says “Booty” Too Much:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/450764132925853696

The One That Was Delivered by Hedwig:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/450386797722628096

The Wishful Thinking One:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/448905107019943936

The One That Put Chicken Nuggets on a Car:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/449952797086474240

The Filthy Truck One:

https://twitter.com/ThePromposal/status/455837883078017025

Because nothing says ‘love’ like a dirt-encrusted truck.

TIME relationships

Why ‘I Have a Boyfriend’ Is Still the Best Way to Turn a Guy Down

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Getty Images

An argument for efficiency by a feminist

You’re out with your friends at a bar, and a guy comes over and starts talking to you. You exchange pleasantries and start chatting. But it soon becomes clear that you’re just not that into him. What’s the best way to turn him down without being a total jerk? A 2013 XOJane column that went viral over the weekend by Alecia Lynn Eberhardt makes the argument that the age-old excuse of “I have a boyfriend” (whether it’s true or not) undermines a woman’s autonomy by suggesting she’s unavailable because she’s “taken” by a man. Eberhardt pulls a popular quote from Tumblr to explain why this excuse deprives a woman of all agency:

Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.

While in theory I agree with this sentiment, I’m going to still argue for the efficacy of the “I have a boyfriend” excuse. When I am out with my friends at a bar trying to enjoy myself, the last thing I want to do is take precious time away from my friends to explain to a stranger why I have no interest in him. Eberhardt’s sketch of how this debate might play out sounds exhausting:

“I’m not interested.” Don’t apologize and don’t excuse yourself. If they question your response (which is likely), persist — ”No, I said I’m not interested.”

“Oh, so you have a boyfriend?”

“I said, I’m not interested.”

“So you’re a lesbian, then?”

“Actually, I’m not interested.”

“You seem crazy.”

“Nope, just not interested.”

Et cetera. You could even, if you were feeling particularly outspoken, engage in a bit of debate with the man in question.

I don’t have the patience to get into debates with every man who hits on me. I’ve used the “I’m not interested” excuse before only to be regaled for 10 minutes with stories as to why I should be interested. I’ve seen men sit down at a table with a friend, put their arm around her even after she’s said, “I’m not interested.” I even had a man try this strategy while I was on a date with a boyfriend who was sitting across the table from me.

If, on the other hand, you say, “I have a boyfriend,”— even if that’s a bald-faced lie — guys will flee pretty quickly. Some will say, “So?” But that debate can be ended pretty quickly with “I don’t cheat” or “he just got out of prison.”

So yes, if you think you’re dealing with a rational person who will leave you alone after you utter “I’m not interested” or if you feel like spending your night engaged in spirited debate, do the empowered thing and don’t lie. But that’s often not the case, and while I consider myself a feminist, I’m also someone who cares about efficiency. It’s not my obligation to educate men in bars about society’s gender issues. I want to enjoy my evenings. So I’ll be sticking with “I have a boyfriend” and go home still believing in equal pay, leaning in and that a woman should win the presidency in 2016.

TIME relationships

Dating: Women Believe What They Hear About a Guy’s Reputation

New study shows that women reject men based on negative spin, even when the information is the same

When it comes to relationships, women tend to believe the hype about men they’re considering dating. Researchers found that women change their opinion of men when they’re presented with a negative or positive spin, even if the information is exactly the same.

Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal found that women were more highly attuned to information about potential mates when it was negatively framed, even if the facts were exactly the same as the positive framing. In other words, women are extremely susceptible to spin.

They presented participants with two statements about potential mates that said the exact same information in different ways. For example:

“Seven out of 10 people who know this person say he is kind”

vs.

“Three out of 10 people who know this person say he is unkind.”

The information is the same, but the framing is different, and the women were much more likely to reject mates who were framed negatively. The researchers concluded this is probably because of “parental investment theory,” or the notion that women have to be pickier about their mates because the consequences are higher for picking the wrong one.

So what does that mean for guys who get mixed reviews on apps like Lulu that rate men? It means they should clean up their act, because one negative comment could be enough to turn dates away.

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