Dunbar: Traditional dating has disappeared from college campuses

Blair Dunbar, Columnist

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By now, some of you may have filled your “How I Met Your Mother” void with NBC’s new show “A to Z.” It tells the entirety of the relationship between titular characters’ Andrew and Zelda from A to Z. But whether “A to Z” is more similar to “500 Days of Summer” or “How I Met Your Mother” isn’t what makes the show so relevant. What’s more relevant is Andrew’s job: working at the fictional online dating service Wallflower. This last week’s episode featured Wallflower trying out its new Tinder-like application. The only difference was that you press instead of swipe.

This episode comes on the heels of an episode of “New Girl” about another fictional, Tinder-like application called “Dice.” By the end of the episode, Jess tries to convince Schmidt that he should use the application for more than just hooking up. He should try to actually get to know the other person — in other words, date! Unfortunately when Schmidt asks the girl he just slept with to grab a cup of coffee, she responds, “I don’t think you understand Dice.”

Maybe TV is just imitating real life. I used to think people in college and in their early 20s and 30s still dated. But now I’m beginning to think that maybe dating is dead … particularly on college campuses.

At the end of September, the latest in online dating technology came to Northwestern. The app? Friendsy. The purpose? Well, the App Store says, “Friendsy is a college-based social network designed to give students a secure way to become more connected while spreading happiness across campuses.” I had my roommate — my official dating technology go-to girl — test out this new app. Sure, it supposedly promotes more than “hooking up,” although that is one of the options. But the majority of the anonymous “compliments” posted suggests that “hooking up” is the primary goal for NU students on this new application. The saddest part? My roommate quickly deleted her profile on the application, yearning for the simplicity of Tinder. After all, at a school full of students as busy as those at NU, who has time for more than a split-second judgment? For that matter, who has time for an actual relationship?

But then there are people like me. After a two-year relationship and passing through that inevitable rebound stage of a breakup, I’m ready to start dating. What online options are open to me? More importantly, do I have any choices besides the slew of never-ending online dating applications? Even if I manage to wrangle a date — not a hook-up — I am completely clueless as to the rules. Do we go Dutch or does the boy pay? Is the three-day rule still in existence? And what about those inevitable, awkward moments at the end of the date?

Studying abroad in Russia, I managed to figure out the country’s own dating realities. In Russia, a country that is always about 20 years behind the rest of the Western world, it is still perfectly acceptable for a boy to think you are cute, chat you up in the metro or a cafe, ask for your number and then take you out for a good old-fashioned dinner and a movie. That seems a lot more appealing than the alternative: sifting through hundreds of electronic profiles.

Despite the thoroughly disappointing ending, the “How I Met Your Mother” fans followed the trials and tribulations of Ted Mosby because he was the quintessential old-fashioned romantic. We wanted him to find his soul mate, especially after he went on date, after date, after date with the wrong women. Sure, dating was a tireless, seemingly never-ending task — the show did last for nine seasons — but don’t the ends justify the means? Maybe it’s time all college students got a little bit old-fashioned.

Blair Dunbar is a Weinberg senior. She can be reached at blairdunbar2015@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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