Beyond the hookup: Some Gen-Y singles like old-fashioned dating

The conventional dating wisdom of the hookup culture is not embraced by all Gen-Y singles.

Photo: Ann Hermes/Staff, Illustration: John Kehe/Staff
Some Gen-Y singles like old-fashioned dating, despite the conventional dating wisdom of the hookup culture. This article is part of the cover story package for the Feb. 13, 2012 issue of The Christian Science Monitor weekly magazine.
A Monitor/TIPP poll of Gen-Y on romantic inclinations.

Not everyone in Gen-Y buys into the generation's conventional dating wisdom, compartmentalizing the physical and emotional.

Many young singles say they don't participate in the hookup culture, even though they may see it happening around them. And research shows it becomes less prevalent as Millennials get older. Some young men and women choose to just "hang out" in ways that resemble more traditional dating, either spending time together as friends or dating without the casual sex.

Ashley Shafer, for instance, comes from a traditional Christian background, and says as far as hooking up or friends with benefits, "I don't go in for that. I don't put myself in environments where that's expected."

Recently graduated from Biola University, a Christian school in La Mirada, Calif., Ms. Shafer says the men she met there often shared her values. She spent time with lots of them at school, going out for coffee, studying, or seeing a movie. Sometimes feelings developed on one side or the other, but none evolved into dating that involved sex.

"The guys at Biola took dating more seriously than the average college guy," she says. "Some of them were actually thinking about marriage."

Not so for Shafer, who – at age 21– is focused right now on beginning her career in public relations, something she says is very important to her.

"I know if I had been in a serious relationship now, it could have changed a lot of the career decisions I'm making. I want to be free to go where the jobs are," she says.

Shafer is looking forward to marriage later on in her life, but already knows she probably won't live with her chosen partner first: "There is a lot of pressure to live together first, but I won't do that. I have friends that have done it, but it's not clear if those will even be permanent relationships."

Maggie Ryan, a 20-year-old college sophomore in Boston, says that her peers did a lot of experimenting with their newfound freedom as freshmen, including hooking up. But, for her, it's always been about more traditional dating.

"I know if I liked a guy, I wouldn't want to have a one-night thing. I want to date them. It's harder to find that right now in college because a lot of guys are just looking for fun," says Ms. Ryan.

"My friends tell me I'm really picky, but I see the way my dad treats my mom – like a princess – and because I've grown up watching their relationship, I'm looking for something like that."

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