During the course of our interviews with more than 30 local college students, IWF found some interesting trends.  We summed it all up in this 3-minute video, but the brief clips don't tell the full story.

I was impressed with the honest, thoughtful respsonses we got to many questions, including:

  1. What do you think of Valentine's Day?
  2. What's the dating life like here on campus?
  3. If you could change anything about how dating works here, what would you change?
  4. Has dating changed recently, or at least for our generation?
  5. And a lot of "How so?" questions and follow-ups.

We ended up talking with the students at length about the hook-up culture.  But not because we brought it up.  We said "dating," and then many students went there. We weren't looking for a particular reaction from the students; we just came ready to listen (and armed with a camera).  In most students, I saw a clear-eyed, level-headed maturity about the complexity of choices in the world of dating and mating.  That was encouraging.

We could have explored many more angles of the topic of dating.  Several students pointed out that the strains of college life (being busy and broke) limited their investment in relationships.  A few mentioned career-mindedness and, naturally, a desire to avoid the confusion and sometimes heartbreak that comes with dating. 

We spoke with a handful of students about feminism, and its possible impact on the dating culture.  The answers were a mixed bag, including mostly "I don't know."  A couple people noted that "feminism" itself was not an easily defined term.  Most students agreed that gender roles have been evolving, and that that has had both positive and negative effects on relationships.  In a couple interviews, IWF asked about feminism, and that's the moment when the students brought up the "hook-up culture."  That's telling.

But as Charlotte mentioned, I saw nearly a full-out rejection of the false promises of shallow promiscuity.  Just as interesting as what was said was what was not said: None of the students said they felt sexually repressed or needed to hear more about orgasms at campus events.

In fact, the only time I heard the word "trapped" – which certainly conjures up a feeling of repression – was in reference to the hook-up culture itself, where according to my interviewee, women don't know how or when to say no. 

But we can be hopeful for today's youth generation – sometimes called "Millennials."  After watching a pendulum swing from their grandparents (WWII vets) to their parents (post-free-love Boomers), today's youth understand that relationships require sacrifice but can be enormously fulfilling when they are respectful and geniune.

Happy Valentine's Day.