Dating conference gives guidance on age-old story

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The game of love has been played for thousands of years, but the BYU Women’s Resources and Services department feels that perhaps the rules have changed.

Dating culture in Utah is unique, but the Women's Services Center says a typical relationship should be "four seasons and a road trip."
Dating culture in Utah is unique, but the Women’s Services Center says a typical relationship should be “four seasons and a road trip.”

The Women’s Resources and Services department will be holding their annual dating conference on Feb 13. and will have a strong focus on our culture’s difficulties with dating. Lanae Valentine, the director of Women’s Services feels that our generation has passed through a dating paradigm shift and that this conference can help clarify best methods for dating.

“The rules of dating have changed over time, but in many ways I think the new rules have made it harder to navigate,” Valentine said.

Historically, dating was considered to be one man and one woman courting each other exclusively with the intent of deciding for or against marriage. Valentine believes this dynamic has changed — and not necessarily for the better. Many students are dating multiple people at a time, and while it may allow for a faster filtering process, it may have made dating more complicated.

“It’s added a new dimension of complexity, and I think that for some people social skills are on the down a little bit. Just knowing how to relate to someone and hold a conversation,” Valentine said.

One of those planning to speak at the dating conference explains that a change in dating may be due to a change in the traditional values of dating. Jeffrey Hill, a professor of family studies, explains that the number of students going on one-on-one dates has dropped.

“Our whole culture has morphed into this group mentality,” Hill said. “Things happen when you’re alone one-on-one that are good, and lead toward marriage.”

Hill believes this drop in one-on-one dating may stem from men being fragile and afraid of rejection. Living in a social media world has created a mindset of getting a quick fix and easy answers. However, dating is a difficult process and can take more time than many students initially expect, which, according to Valentine, might be why BYU students get married notoriously fast.

“Sometimes I think that people get married too quickly at BYU,” Valentine said. “In our department we have a mantra, four seasons and a roadtrip.”

Both Valentine and Hill agree one of the major problems in our dating culture is that students seem to be unfamiliar with the concept of “casual dating,” and are eager to quickly jump to exclusivity in a relationship.

“When I was a student here at BYU, when you said you were going to date someone it meant that you were going to take them to the movies,” Hill said. “But now when you’re going to ‘date someone’ it’s like you’re going to be proposing. Students should take more time before declaring an exclusivity.”

Genevieve Pierce, a dietetics major planning to attend the upcoming dating conference, agrees that casual dating is a practice that has all but disappeared.

“Dating people casually is difficult,” Pierce said. “I asked a lot of guys out last year, and they all just assume that I really like them, which wasn’t the case. I simply wanted to get to know them more.”

Pierce explained that the pressure in a one-on-one dating scenario can be too intense for many students, which is why a group dating mentality has become so prominent.

Hill’s belief, which differs from Valentine’s, is that dating multiple people at a time is not a bad practice, but that there comes a time when defining the relationship becomes necessary and that is when a relationship should become exclusive.

Each individual should determine what is best for him or her when it comes to dating. However, the upcoming dating conference will have several speakers that can help students find and refine the better dating practices. With seminars ranging from tips on dating, deciding if a person is “the one” and even a discussion on media and body image, this conference can be helpful for students in all stages of relationships.

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