Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Down with Dating

For Lisa Snyder, college started with new guys and date parties.

After ending a one-year relationship a week into college, she began to experience Northwestern’s dating spectrum — from casual dorm hangouts to the one-time hookups.

Now, after three years, the Communication junior has yet to be impressed.

“The NU dating scene makes it really easy to close yourself off,” Snyder said. “I don’t think there’s one explanation for why the dating scene here sucks. It’s just a combination of things.”��

 

‘WHAT DATING SCENE?’

Blame it on busy schedules or the segregation of North and South campus. �

Whatever the reason, it’s hard to mention the NU dating scene without someone denying that it exists. Students simply don’t go out in pairs, in public, with the goal of getting acquainted. Not at NU. Not often, anyway.

Experts have their own explanations for dating decline, and they say it isn’t unique to NU.

“The whole concept of one-on-one, close community is something students are holding at arm’s length. It’s safer, less threatening, to be a member of a group,” said Jeanette Cureton,who co-wrote the book “When Hope and Fear Collide,” based on surveys and interviews at colleges.

According to an Independent Women’s Forum 2001 study conducted by the Institute for American Values, half of the 1,000 women interviewed were asked out on six or more dates during college. A third had been on no more than two.��

David Nyweide, Communication ’03, who wrote his honors gender studies thesis about NU dating, blamed the structure of college life for the decline. Co-ed residence halls allow students to bond in the comforts of their own rooms, without going on formal dates.

“You don’t have to get to know someone by going out on a date anymore,” Nyweide said. “Why do you have to go out to a movie when you can watch a movie in the dorm?”

 

THE HOOK-UP CULTURE

Snyder has had her share of hook-up partners who had no plans of starting a relationship.

She calls it random. Many call it college.��

The term “hook up”denotes a physical encounter — ranging from kissing to sexual intercourse — without commitment. The “hook up,” part of college lingo since 2000, often involves drinking and partners who don’t know each other well, according the Independent Women’s Forum study.

The study showed hooking up has replaced dating on most college campuses. Forty percent of the women surveyed reported having hooked up. One in 10 had hooked up more than six times.

Weinberg junior Sarah Anderson said the college atmosphere helps students hook up without worrying about consequences.

“College students don’t feel a societal pressure to commit, which makes a hooking-up lifestyle easier,” Anderson said. “It’s a fun age to just be able to go out and have fun.”

Sexual liberation is also more accepted, said Communication freshman Jordan McDole.

“Women now realize that it’s okay to go to a party and make out with a guy and not be in a relationship with him,” she said. “It’s a more liberating point in their life.”

But there tends to be an emotional connection among students who “hook up” on more than one occasion, said Psychology Prof. Eli Finkel, who studies relationships.

“Students often say ‘we’re not really dating, we’re just hooking up,'” he said. “But there’s still that emotional attachment.”

 

ATTACHED AT THE HIP

Three years after breaking up with her high school sweetheart, Snyder hasn’t claimed the title of someone’s girlfriend in college.

Now she’s ready to meet someone at NU. Snyder isn’t alone. �

“Humans are built to be social animals,” Finkel said. “We want human connection. I find it unbelievable when (students) say they can’t make time to date.”

Music juniors Anna Burden and Elliot Dushman first met in Shephard Residential College freshman year. They’ve been an item ever since.

“She’s really like my best friend,” Dushman said. “We know everything about each other.”

In college terms, Burden and Dushman are “joined-at-the-hip.”

They spend two to three hours a day together between meals, visits during practicing their instruments and hanging out in the evenings.

Mike Liang said dating requires time-management and prioritizing.

The Weinberg sophomore, whose parents met at NU, said he came to college determined to follow their footsteps. He made extra effort to find social and extracurricular activities to “maximize opportunities,” he said.

Liang designates time each day for his girlfriend.

“Sometimes, you can mix it up a little,” he said. “I’ll study with my girlfriend or I’ll work out with her to kind of kill two birds with one stone.”

Students who are “joined-at-the-hip” said they’re not missing out on random hook ups.

“It’s more rewarding to have one person you can connect with,” Dushman said.

 

EXCUSES, EXCUSES

At NU, students said they are involved, high achievers constantly worrying about deadlines, meetings and midterms. With jam-packed agendas, many said they barely have time for dating.�

Jay Schumacher, a Communication sophomore and Associated Student Government’s executive vice president, said he is so involved he’s often left with less than enough time for meals and sleep — and no time for a relationship. He’s been single his entire NU career.

“Students are pretty much intensely focused on their academic and extracurricular performance and tend to shy away from long-term relationships,” he said. “A relationship with a significant other is something that is put on the back burner.”

Dating takes time that students said they would rather use to hang out and have fun with friends.

But some said being busy is just an excuse to avoid commitment.

Weinberg freshman Mike Schoengold said the NU dating dilemma is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Freshman hear about the scarcity of daters early on, and that makes it challenging to initiate dating, he said.

“You don’t see the example that you can just meet people and say, ‘Hey, let’s go out,'” Schoengold said.

 

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION

Students said the dating scene doesn’t improve much by senior year. The interconnectedness of 7,840 undergraduates means friends have often dated or hooked up with people in the same social circle by the time the fourth year rolls around.

Weinberg senior Carrie Kapnick said most seniors are either in serious relationships they formed earlier in their college careers, or focused on finding a job.

“By the time you get to senior year, it’s almost like there’s no one left,” Kapnick said. “It’s not like you’re meeting new people.”

This problem is compounded in NU’s gay community, said Corey Robinson, a Weinberg junior.

“It’s so incestuous,” Robinson said. “If you date someone and break up, you see them all the time, and it leads to so much more drama.”

Erika Warren, a Communication senior, said a smaller campus also makes dating less anonymous. At a bigger school, students are less likely to bump into people who have rejected them.

 

STILL SEARCHING

It’s not that Snyder doesn’t know what she’s looking for.

“I want to meet a really cool guy and have him call me a few days later and ask me to do something fun — like ice skating in the city,” she said.

Snyder said dating services and less hesitant guys could improve NU’s dating realm.

But Snyder hasn’t given up on finding a match at NU.

“I’m hopeful,” she said, smiling.

Reach Francesca Jarosz at [email protected] and Allan Madrid at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Down with Dating