Picture a family holiday dinner. Food is on the table, everyone is gathered together, and a high school or college student is text messaging under the table. Upon prodding questions about the recipient—“Are you dating?”—the irritated adolescent might glance up just long enough to mumble, “We’re just talking.”
Sociology professor Kathy Hull shares her thoughts about the changing relationship landscape with the Star Tribune. A generation or two ago the word “dating” often meant a casual, nonexclusive relationship involving the occasional dinner and movie without commitment. That idea has changed. Hull explains,
“Going on a date now has more significance, when the option of hooking up or just hanging out in a group-friend setting is more prevalent. When people say they’re dating someone, it usually means they’re in a relationship.”
Hull suggests the shift in terms has come out of an extended transition to adulthood, with more young adults pursuing college and delaying marriage and family until they’ve secured a stable job. After graduation, Hull says, many millennials decide to start dating in the traditional sense.
“It’s not until they leave college that some people go back to the idea of using dates as a way to check out potential partners, rather than a way to get into a committed relationship.”
With so many waiting to play the game of love, it appears they may, to some degree, forget how—perhaps one more driver behind the rise of online dating.