It was late afternoon when Chaminade students gathered in the Vi and Paul Loo Student Center to listen to guest speaker Kerry Cronin speak on The Rules of Dating: A Conversation about Dating and Hook-Up Culture. The title was intriguing enough.  Cronin’s boisterous style – cheerful, friendly and nonjudgmental – made her easy to like. Her subject matter piqued their interest as she drew them into a conversation about dating and hooking up.

Cronin covered the basics of dating and the need for social courage. Statistically, students on college campuses may be having sex.  Some may need help with decisions about that, and some may not. However, the larger majority just needs help on basic social cues, which the culture does not give them.  When she described dating, Cronin intentionally downplayed the issue of sex and focused on the importance of relationships. In general, students seemed more concerned with how to actually ask someone out on a date.

According to Cronin, the purpose of dating is to determine if one wants to be in a relationship. This first level of dating is reconnaissance work. You have to be focused because you are trying to find out if you are really interested in and attracted to someone. Many students would prefer to find out about somebody in a group, but a group has its own dynamic.

Connecting with someone one-on-one is different in that your attention is on someone else, and you are allowing someone else’s attention to be on you.  This takes courage because you have intentionally placed yourself into a vulnerable position. She stressed that this kind of dating as being alcohol-free and lasting for at least an hour so that you can figure out the depth of your romantic and sexual interest.

These days, the hookup culture has become very appealing. The hookup scene is motivated largely by a desire for a connection, but it is a desire hampered by a lack of courage. The biggest difficulty is having the simple courage to ask somebody if he or she would want to sit down for an hour and talk.

Students appreciated her straightforwardness and honest approach to the discussion as she advised them on how to go about the business of dating.

“Being in a relationship for 10 years, I was not too familiar with the hooking up culture and what that meant. It was nice to be able to relate to other students who have been engaging in this type of activity,” said Sashalee Torres, a senior majoring in Forensic Sciences. “She was really funny and extremely relatable. I felt comfortable speaking with her after the talk. She was not speaking poorly of the hooking up culture but trying to get a better understanding of it.”

Toni Mitsumoto, also a senior majoring in Forensic Sciences decided to attend Cronin’s talk because she thought it would interesting to learn about the hookup culture, “Especially when you’re living in a generation where it’s so common to hookup, and you never really take a second to think about it and how it affects us,” she said.  “My favorite part of the talk was when she read some of her students’ reflections. Some were really sweet, and it was nice to hear their point of views on how dating is compared to just hooking up. It was very relatable and made the talk more engaging.”

Mitsumoto said that she would definitely take some time to reflect on how the hookup culture played a role in her own life. “And who knows, maybe I will participate in her assignment and ask someone on a date! That would be interesting!” she added.

Torres would even be interested in taking a class on the subject. “I think that maybe there should be a club or class that discusses relationships and how to date. This would be beneficial for students who are not familiar with that area of their lives.”

Cronin, who serves at Boston College as the associate director of the Lonergan Institute and the Faculty Fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary Perspectives program, works extensively with undergraduates in retreat programs. She also teaches classes on dating, which include dating assignments and dating scripts, and is quite popular. A regular speaker on college campuses, she addresses topics of student culture and formation. Her talks on dating have a wide internet following. As part of its Health and Wellness program, the Office of the Dean of Students with the Office of the Rector sponsored Cronin’s special speaking engagement at Chaminade University.

At a Marianist Education Associates meeting earlier that day, Cronin explained to faculty and staff that there were two syllabuses in the formation of students as they go through college.  The first syllabus dealt with content, tests, and academics.  The second syllabus dealt with students endeavoring to find friends, resolving issues, practicing adulting, discovering joy, finding their gifts, and ridding themselves of baggage.  “Students want us to walk with them as they try to navigate through college life,” she said. “It’s part of educating the whole person.”