The annual Kerry Cronin dating talk has been a staple event at BC for the past several years. It never fails to pack the lecture hall to full capacity with eager students, most of whom are freshmen. Full of jokes, casual tone, and ability to connect with students, Professor Cronin engaged the audience in conversation regarding dating, a topic she says is often avoided within the BC community.
With humor, Cronin was able to speak on a level that BC students can appreciate. Her witty comments allowed her to make a connection with her audience. Per Cronin, a BC student falls into one of three categories when it comes to dating: the “pseudo-married couple”, the “opting out” person, or the “hooker-uppers.” The pseudo-married couple, according to Professor Cronin, has the issue that “people hate them. People harbor deep resentment.” People who opt out refuse to date, and this prevents the deeper connections that dating creates. The final group, those who hook up, are those who participate in sexual activity “without any perceived emotional connection and without any perceived notion of a follow up.” The issue with this is that someone may “not know what he or she was thinking or feeling.”
After spending some time on the definition and types of romantic relationships, Cronin reached the crux of her talk: the dating assignment. It seems like everyone at BC has heard of this assignment, but the assignment itself challenges 21st-century dating culture. Dating today has become so complex that many students opt out altogether due to preconceived notions of the difficulties that it brings. Yet Cronin provides another opinion on dating.
For her, dating is a positive way in which we discover our true selves. In one of the most revealing quotes of the talk she says: “dating should be free so you can learn to be free and to reveal yourself. You find out who you want.” This quote shows the true purpose of dating. We can find out more about ourselves, and who we truly are at the deepest level. Of course, this is not possible until you give of yourself to someone else, which is one of the most difficult things to do. Dating allows someone to explore who they are, and to connect more deeply than they would in a simple surface-level friendship. This, argues Cronin, is what BC has lost to the hookup culture and lack of true dating.
Cronin ended her talk with a beautiful quote from Pope Francis: “The worst thing is not failure or rejection. It’s not seeing joy, despair, glory, suffering, sadness of another human being.” This is what dating allows us to see. We see the glory and joy of another person, and we also see the suffering and sadness too. We allow ourselves to share in each other’s sufferings and crosses when we make space for dating, and our hearts are filled with the joy of sharing life’s highs and lows with another person. After all, God made us to be in union with one another: “The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.” (Genesis 2:18). We are made for one another, and dating should foster love and openness of the heart. Dating challenges who we are at our inner core, and allows us to turn into who we want to be, contrary to the current dating culture we live in. May we foster the relationships that build each other up, and seek out not only the glory, but also the despair of another person. As Cronin concluded, “keep making space for dating.”