Letter from the Editor: The value of casual dating, be brave, be a friend



DSC_4879The upperclassmen of Franciscan can recall with mostly apprehensive emotions the infamous “No Fear November” that struck fear in the hearts of students of all ages.

For those of you who don’t remember, this was when Student Life encouraged a month-long open-hunting season for men to ask women out on a date. I remember the entire attempt failing miserably, and it is now recalled with cringes and slight horror. Following this failed attempt at bridging the chasm between men and women on campus, it also seems to have sown the idea that a casual date is just as dreadful.

As someone who has been in a relationship for four and a half years, engaged for nearly one year and is currently planning a wedding, let me be the first to tell you: there is nothing wrong with casual dating.

Please don’t freak out. I didn’t say serial dating, casual sex or playing with the emotions of every person of the opposite sex on campus. Casual dating simply means asking a person in whom you are interested out for a coffee, to a movie, to Mass and breakfast and so on, with only the intention of getting to know the other person better.

Think back to the movies from the ‘40s and ‘50s when the young man would come to the door, take the girl out for a soda and a movie, return her before 10 p.m. and then that was that. Scandalous, I know.

What made me begin to dwell once again on my true feelings for the dating life on campus was when I read an article published by the Cardinal Newman Society titled, “Faithful Campus Life Leads Students to Better Marriages at Franciscan University.” It applauded the amount of marriages that find their start here on campus.

“For Franciscan, strong residence life policies, an emphasis on virtue and the beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage and family have proved a winning combination,” reads the article.

While the article pointed out some lovely things about student life here on campus, it missed the strange epidemic that seems to be affecting most people on campus: not wanting to date someone unless they are THE one.

From my personal observations, students on the campus of Franciscan University are so focused on getting married and having babies that they don’t ask anyone out for the fear that they aren’t “the one” with whom they want to spend the entirety of their lives. While this seems to be an excellent over-compensation for our society’s modern mentality of “sleep with, then discard,” many people still overlook a great piece of the puzzle: friendship.

Honestly, sometimes you have to ask someone out on a one-on-one date to really get to know the person and become true friends. Joint commitments with the other’s households are nice, but it is hard to get to know the person if you don’t have the opportunity to converse.

I cannot begin to list how many females with whom I have spoken on campus who have never been on a date in their lives. I am not talking about never being in a long-term relationship. They have never been on one, singular, solitary date.

By not taking the chance of asking someone to go bowling for an afternoon, you have just missed the opportunity to get to know the other person. Who cares if the person doesn’t repay you by a relationship, marriage, kiss or whatever? Even if you find you are not meant to pursue a further dating relationship, you have, at least, gained a friend.

It is one thing for your parents to have set strict “no dating” guidelines in high school, but it is very different when you are an adult out in the real world and are too afraid to be friends with a member of the opposite sex because you think a date equals a marriage proposal.

It doesn’t matter if these casual dates are not in the Frannie Dictionary—add it to the new edition of this imagined dictionary. Be a friend, be brave, and cherish the people around you.


  1. My Dad was our HH advisor for Salt of the Earth and he encouraged the casual dating. This is healthy in developing wholesome friendships/relationships with the opposite sex. This was back in the late 80’s…

    1. Would you mind if I asked for a covenant for Salt of the Earth?

  2. It is a problem of semantics. “Dating” has become such an abused word and concept. To the larger society it is synonymous with the “hookup” and is rightly rejected as such. What the author is describing is absolutely true and good. Every successful marriage is at its core a friendship. That friendship is broadened, strengthened, and beautified by the exclusivity of the marriage sacrament into something unique and Holy.

  3. Lauren, thanks for this awesome article! Honestly, I am so glad that when I first started out at Franciscan in 2011, swing dancing was a huge deal on Sunday nights-it was a way to get to know many different men in a casual, lighthearted setting. As funny as it is, in the many relationships I developed, I never thought of it as “dating” (haha especially because I thought I would enter a convent) when I would have tea with one guy or take a walk with another guy-I was developing friendships with many different guys I knew! I don’t know if this is still a thing, but when I was a freshman, different men’s households would have “date days,” where each household member would ask a woman to an event that they would all go to together, like Mass and breakfast, a symphony concert, bowling, etc. Those were pretty cool because they allowed a fun, casual way to get to know another person (who you may or may not know super well) in a lighthearted, Franny-friendly setting :)

    You know what ended up happening in my life? I entered a serious dating (code word: for discernment) relationship at the end of my freshman year-after being super close & having spent much time as friends with a guy one-on-one, we got engaged 5 months later, and married right before Junior year. And now we’re loving the married alumni life after 2+ years of marriage!

    Like you said, even if a “date” doesn’t end in a marriage proposal, you gain a friend, and I think everyone could benefit from some good friendship with members of the opposite sex-because men and women can (and should) be friends! :)

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