"Big Four" Highlights


Bring Dating Back

Two millennials look at modern love and relationships

Responding to the lack of romantic clarity on campus and among young adults, the Love & Fidelity Network has launched a “Bring Dating Back” campaign in time for Valentine’s Day. The campaign features posters that offer tips on how to think about dating, how to ask for a date, and how to act on a date.

Fathers for Good asked two recent college grads to explain their generation’s view on these issues and how effective the dating campaign may be.

Luciana Milano

Luciana Milano, 23, graduated last year from Harvard University with a degree in Government and is now enrolled in Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Robert Smith, also 23, holds a degree in Government from Dartmouth College and works in Washington, D.C., as a legislative correspondent for U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania.

Both are currently dating, but not one another. Here are their responses to separate e-mail interviews.

Fathers for Good: With Valentine’s Day coming, describe the ritual of people your age. Are guys still supposed to get gals cards, flowers, chocolates and gifts? What about “gender equality” on campus?

Luciana Milano: Among my friends in relationships, roses, chocolates, dinner, cards are all to be expected on Valentine’s Day. Although typically guys are expected to get the girls gifts, it is not uncommon for girls to get or make something for their significant other as well. Even during my time at Harvard, where gender equality is always discussed, I never met a girl who refused roses, chocolates, etc.

Robert Smith

Robert Smith: Yes, men are still expected to do something special for a significant other on Valentine’s Day. This could include anything from giving a thoughtful card to paying for dinner or flowers. Women will occasionally give gifts to men too. This is common, but not required. Of course, the “ritual” or “rules” of a relationship are largely determined by the couple itself.

FFG: Is there a lack of clarity in dating and relationships in general?

Milano: Among young adults, “date” is an uncomfortable four-letter word. It is very common for guys to ask girls to “hang out” instead of going on a date. But dating and hanging out are not the same thing. Hanging out may take on the appearance of a date, but the essence is different. What determines whether getting coffee, going for a walk, meeting up for drinks, or watching a movie is a date or constitutes hanging out? Do the time and place matter? Or who pays? I have heard so many girls say something like “it felt like a date.” I think if you are not sure, it probably was not a date. What makes a date unique is that the intentions are clear. Dating aims for something. Dating ultimately aims for a commitment. If we can bring dating back in style, commitment will make a comeback, too.

Smith: The dating scene varies based on geographic location and stage of life. There seems to be a greater acceptance of dating outside the setting of a college campus. That being said, “hanging out” is definitely the norm. Guys can leave college with very little dating experience and may find it difficult to adjust to social environments that require more deliberation and intentionality. Guys do occasionally ask for dates, but that can seem like a huge step. More often, two people within a group start spending more and more time together. This then leads to an awkward conversation in which the couple has to “define the relationship,” because neither one knows if they are dating or not. 

 FFG: Every parent wants to know what “hooking up” is all about.

Milano: A “relationship” that revolves around sexual activity is also known as “hooking up.” Although hook-ups are intended to be purely physical, in reality they adversely affect the whole person – mind, body, and soul.

Smith: Hooking up is a nebulous term used to describe sexual activity outside the context of a committed, long-term relationship. The term is deliberately ambiguous. This allows the parties involved to exaggerate an encounter or to preserve plausible deniability.

FFG: What do you think of the Love & Fidelity Network campaign to “Bring Dating Back”? Does it resonate with people your age? 

Milano: The LFN’s “Bring Dating Back” campaign is really exciting and encouraging. I think young adults would like to date more, but dating is foreign to many of our experiences. We live in the time of Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder. We live in a world where we can virtually “hangout” with someone. The LFN campaign gives young adults a nice nudge. Date shouldn’t be a four-letter word. Dating should not be feared. Dating can be casual, too. The campaign not only helps my generation understand what dating is, but it also gives some great tips on how to start.

Smith: Despite what you may hear about the prevalence of the hook-up culture, many young men and women long for clearly defined expectations that make it easier to navigate the dating scene. Most people I know, including guys, want to be in a committed relationship; they just don't know how to get there. Some have become frustrated by the lack of seriousness among others their own age. Love & Fidelity’s “Bring Dating Back” campaign helps young people by showing them a way forward. It presents a very real and hopeful alternative to what we’ve been seeing. It also reduces some of the “scariness” of asking someone out by showing how simple it really is.

For information on “Bring Dating Back,” visit the Love & Fidelity website.