This past Valentine’s day, John Brown University’s Rugby team held their annual “Rent-a-Rugger” fundraiser, where the highest bidder for each rugger can enjoy a casual group date with their chosen guy. At JBU, there are varying opinions on dating and how seriously students should take it.
According to the fall 2014 Student Relationship Assessment (SRA), 42 percent of student respondents said they feel pressure from others to find a mate before graduating. 42 percent also said that finding a mate while attending college is either “fairly important” or “extremely important.”
Additionally, three out of ten respondents said that the topic of marriage was raised within the first eight months of exclusive dating. Sifting out respondents who answered “N/A” to this question, the percentage increased by 13 points.
University Chaplain Rod Reed said this number is too high.
“I think there’s a lot of value in getting to know people of the opposite sex in some sort of dating setting,” Reed said.
Reed emphasized the importance of learning how to relate and having conversations with the other gender without experiencing pressure—internally or from friends—to be extremely committed or romantic. He added that letting things happen slowly is a good thing.
While Reed spoke of dating as a way to learn how to relate to the other gender, almost 45 percent of respondents on the SRA define dating as “the way to find the right one,” while about 10 percent define it as “deepening a relationship.”
Molly Devine, a sophomore Spanish major, said she’s gone on casual dates in the past. She defined casual dating as an “enriched friendship” or not being afraid to grab a cup of coffee without having to label the relationship. She echoed Reed in saying this style of pressure-free dating is important for personal and relational development.
“Why you got to be so intense?” Devine said to JBU. “Ease up. Enjoy yourself.”
Assistant Professor of Youth Ministries, Jason Lanker, agreed that intense exclusivity is troublesome. He validated a gradual progression from having a group of friends, to getting to know someone in that group one-on-one, to becoming a more committed couple.
“The problem with dating the way that it is most often conceived is it’s conceived as this individualized pairing,” Lanker said. “And the problem with that is that it doesn’t give you a frame of reference to be able to work from and work in.”
“If you want the best chance, do it in a community,” Lanker added.
Joey Stamps, a senior Family and Human major, also advised students to get to know someone in a friend group first. “Ignore the ‘ring by spring’ mentality,” he said.
Isaac Tamez-Salazar, sophomore biochemistry major, also expressed that he disagrees with the pressure at JBU to get married. He told about a time when he was meeting a female friend for lunch in the cafeteria. As he waited for her to arrive, some people came up to him and patted him on the back, thinking that he was in a relationship.
Tamez-Salazar shared that he does not intend to be in a dating relationship for a while. He said that for him, “dating someone means that you’re thinking that you’re going to get married to them at some point.” Ultimately, he wants to wait till he is closer to graduating and to having a stable career before he dates anyone seriously. This way, when he does date, he is relatively close to being in a good position for marriage.
Laura Roller, a senior international business major, said she is currently in a very serious long-distance dating relationship but has thought a lot about how relationships work at JBU. She advised, “Give people room to hang out and room to talk–and room to stop talking–without it being the end of the world.”