Millennials Are Still Obsessed With Hookups, So Now There Are College Classes On Dating

It seems that we’re still not done collectively discussing the fact that millennials are bad at relationships and obsessed with hooking up. Apparently, this issue is so baffling that the Aspen Ideas Festival hosted a panel to talk about it. This wouldn’t be much of a shocker, but on top of it, the hoopla over the topic has led to the addition of relationship classes on college campuses. As The Atlantic reports, the University of Illinois now holds dating workshops, and Duke University holds a counseling series about how to fall in love, as well as how to recognize your own romantic feelings. One Boston College professor even gives extra credit to students who will actually go on an old-fashion date during the semester, and gives suggestions for how to ask people out.

At the AIF panel, people debated (for the hundredth time in the past few years) about why “hooking up” — whatever that means to you — is more popular than traditional dating. One theory among the panelists was that millennials are so used to being coddled (we are, after all, the participation ribbon generation) that we’re unable to accept other people’s realities and opinions, making it tough to deal with the compromises and harsh realities that come with relationships. Other support the theory that technology has made us pretty much incompetent when it comes to talking to a date face-to-face. Lots of panel attendees put the blame on our culture’s heavy focus on independence among students.

The biggest argument of college kids, according to many of those who work with them, is that they simply “don’t have time” for relationships. Part of this may have to do with the fact that these days, most people are more likely to see a career advancement as a major sign of personal success than, say, an engagement. Therefore, career success is what students are filling their undergrad days working toward. It could also have to do with the pressure a lot of us put on ourselves to build our resumes from the moment high school starts. Falling in love takes away from your schedule, so hooking up seems like such an obvious and convenient way to interact with romantic interests instead.

This would be assuming, though, that “I’m too busy” syndrome is the cause of hookup culture, when it could be the other way around. Maybe this obsession took root for some other inexplicable reason, and the “I’m too busy” response is just an excuse students make to avoid commitment or to seem more independent. After all, if it’s now assumed that everyone is into hooking up instead of coupling up, it’s tough to admit you’re actually looking for love when it seems that nobody else is. According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association cited by The Atlantic, 60 to 80 percent of North American college students have had a hookup (less than all this rhetoric would lead us to believe), and about the same percentage would prefer to have a traditional relationship. That leaves a pretty big number of people who could be pretending to enjoy hookups when they actually want something more. At the end of the day, I guess campuses are just a sea of secretly lonely people, pretending otherwise, with no clue that all their friends feel exactly the same way. Talk about a downer.

Personally, while I do think watching so many baby boomer parents end up divorced is a big part of millennials’ caution toward love, I don’t think there is any single reason hookups are so popular. Culture changes and ways of livings shift over the years, for better or for worse. I can’t imagine that dating in the 1940s looked the same as dating in the 1960s, so why would love in 2014 look the same way as it did 30 years ago? In 2040, we’ll be harping on about the “good old days” of Tinder and frat party hookups, which will look quaint in comparison to whatever crazy romance habit the next generation comes up with. Maybe we should just put this subject to bed for a decade or two?

[The Atlantic]

[Image of couple dating via Shutterstock]