Tag Archives: relationship

How youth handle dating, relationships affects maturity into “adulting”


Most college professors may give extra credit for completing optional projects or for participating in class.

Kerry Cronin, a philosophy professor at Boston College, will give her students extra credit for asking someone out on a date.

“Most of the students I give this assignment to are excited, but they’re also terrified because many of them have never asked someone out on a date,” said Cronin, who has become a sort of expert on how young adults today view dating, relationships and sexuality, and how all that has been impacted by technology and lax social mores on most residential college campuses.

Cronin, the associate director of the Lonergan Institute at Boston College and a faculty fellow in BC’s Center for Student Formation, will be sharing her insights into how young people today navigate sex and relationships as a speaker at the 2020 Legatus Summit. She recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

What will you be talking about at the Summit?

What I will probably be sharing for the Legatus audience, since I doubt they need dating advice, is an overview of what I see happening with romance, dating, and relationships among their sons, daughters, and grandkids. I’ll be talking a little bit about how we as older adults can help young adults navigate this strange new relationship landscape.

In what ways has the dating landscape changed?

Starting in the 80s, and continuing through the 90s and early 2000s, there was a loss of a lot of important and helpful social scripts. That loss came along with a time of jettisoning in American culture the social scripts that were seen as limiting and restricting. Well, we ended up throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and leaving young adults without a lot of signposts and cultural milestones for “adulting.” And with the Internet and technologies waiting in the wings to take over our lives, that all became problematic, really fast.

What is the “hookup culture” that has often been written about?

I would define a hookup as any kind of physical or sexual interaction with no intended emotional contact, and no perceived intention of a followup. I would say most students assume that any dating relationship pretty much has to start with a hookup. The attitude is, “Hooking up with somebody is no big deal.” It’s become the dominant social script, and most people are kind of situating themselves relative to this culture.

How do students respond to your dating assignment?

They’re excited, but they wonder, “Why?” Because it’s just not even on their radar. They know it’s something that sounds simple, but they hate feeling vulnerable. And these are good-looking, highly successful, achievement-oriented people, so of course I used that to my advantage. I’ll say, “This is part of adulting. You should be able to do this.”

How do dating apps factor into all this?

Young people will often tell me, “Asking someone out in person is really weird. People think you’re weird when you do that.” They have a certain attitude of, “If I’m on a dating app and I swipe right [meaning you find that person attractive], I’ll find out if that person is also swiping right on me.” But you never find out if that person swiped left on you, as in rejecting you. An app like Tinder will only give you positive feedback, no negative feedback. Standing behind the veil of technology helps you to avoid vulnerability

What lessons do you hope your students will take from the dating assignment?

In all areas of your life — work, studies, most of your friendships — the more effort you put in, the more successful you are. But in the case of romantic relationships, that calculus doesn’t always necessarily work. So students tend to be more terrified of “the ask” than the actual date. But, almost to a person, they’re glad they did it, even if in most cases it doesn’t lead to any big romance.

Heaven is calling: Encountering Jesus in real time

When Jesus encountered people in the scriptures, some responded positively, others negatively. For some, it wasn’t just a one-time experience but a process of growth as a disciple/witness for Jesus. Let’s follow St. Peter’s journey.

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

The first encounter, according to St. John, was not a positive one between Peter and Jesus. When Peter’s brother Andrew brought him to Jesus, the Lord indicated Peter’s future role by changing his name from Simon to Cephas or Peter. The future disciple’s response was to return to what he did best: fishing.

Jesus encountered Peter a little later. Jesus asked him to put out into the deeper water even though he hadn’t caught anything hours before. After the miraculous catch of fish, Peter recognizes his sinfulness and asks Jesus to leave him. Instead, Jesus invites him to leave his occupation and security to become his disciple. Peter accepts.

Other significant encounters follow. Jesus stretches and hones Peter from a fisherman to a fisher of men — from a brash, put-your-foot-in-your-mouth person to one who was willing to surrender to the Lord’s will. Along the way Peter failed many times. He sought to distract Jesus from his prophetic destiny as Suffering Savior before denying Christ all together. At each step, there is a significant encounter with Jesus.

Finally, Peter’s transforming encounter occurs after the resurrection — again at the place of his first, positive response to Jesus: the Sea of Galilee. Again, there is a miraculous catch of fish and the recognition of Jesus as Lord. Taking Peter aside, Jesus asked him probably the most challenging questions of his life. Three times he asked Peter: “Do you love me more than others?” In spite of all Peter’s failures, the Lord invites him into the intimacy of love.

Peter’s response was sufficient. “Lord, I know you love me unconditionally. But at the moment I love you as a close friend. I hope to love you one day the way you love.” The first invitation — “Come, follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men” — now becomes an invitation to follow Jesus to the cross in total surrender of his life in witness for Christ. All this as a result of Peter’s continual encounters with Jesus.

Our lives are filled with many encounters with Jesus. We are aware of some, but not others. Our response to some of these were positive, others negative. Yet Jesus was persistent, never giving up on us, even when, like the Prodigal Son, we ran away from him. But hopefully there was an initial encounter in which we experienced the certainty of his love and the invitation to become his disciple. Even then, our journey was probably not straight but crooked with many ups and downs.

Our past relationship with Jesus is very important, but more important is how attentive we are in our current encounters with Jesus. How conscious are we of our last encounter? How prepared are we to answer the most important questions in our lives, when at the moment of death, Jesus asks: “Who am I to you? Do you love me more than others?”

These encounters are part of the growth in holiness we are called to by virtue of our Baptism. This is God’s will for each of us: Be holy as I, the Lord your God, am holy. Let’s reflect on Pope Francis’ words:

“Let us be infected by the holiness of God. Every Christian is called to sanctity and sanctity does not consist especially in doing extraordinary things, but in allowing God to act [through these encounters]. It is the meeting of our weakness with the strength of his grace, it is having faith in his action that allows us to live in charity, to do everything with joy and humility, for the glory of God and as a service to our neighbor. There is a celebrated saying by the French writer Leon Bloy, at the end of his life, who said: ‘The only real sadness in life is not becoming a saint.’”

The last encounter I desire with Jesus is to hear him say: “Well done, good and faithful disciple; enter into the kingdom prepared for you.” On the other hand, the encounter with Jesus I do not desire is to hear him say: “Depart from me. I do not know you.” The difference will be my attentiveness and positive responses to the different grace encounters between now and then.

BISHOP SAM JACOBS is Legatus’ international chaplain and the former bishop of the Houma-Thibodeaux diocese.