The Dating Project: A Documentary Movie About Singleness and Dating
I saw one of the movie-makers for The Dating Project interviewed, and she says that this movie is promoting the idea that people start dating again.
The focus is on younger people, but I see this problem among folks over the age of 30 as well. If you are 30 or older now (as of April 2018) and grew up in a conservative Christian family or church, you were probably taught (and still taught) a bunch of dating concepts and ideas that have actually kept you single (see this post as an example).
I am over the age of 40 and have never married. I was engaged in my late 20s to my early 30s but broke up with my fiance. I have always wanted to be married, but I never found the right person.
As far as I could tell in seeing the interview with the woman film-maker of this dating movie, the assumption seems to be that being single is “second best” or weird.
Let me just say, as I’ve said many times on this blog, that on the one hand, while there is nothing wrong with being married or wanting to get married, that there is also nothing wrong with being single, and it is wrong to (Link): to denigrate singleness to promote marriage.
I’d like my desire for marriage to be respected, but at the same time, so long as I remain single, (Link): I’d also like myself and my singlehood status to be respected, not jeered, mocked, or put down by conservatives, who frequently shake their index fingers in the faces of singles like myself, and who write fear-mongering articles about how supposedly single life is so much more horrible than married life (see anything written by (Link): Bradford Wilcox or (Link): Mark Regnerus), all because they are worried about declining marriage rates.
I want to be married one day, and I don’t appreciate Christians telling me that my desire for marriage is “an idol” (for it is not), but I also do not appreciate Christians or secular talking heads on television news stations shaming singles for being single and for making singleness sound as though it’s a disease one should be ashamed of having.
Many times, conservatives (of which I am one) assume, quite wrongly, that any one who is single past the age of 30 is single deliberately. Especially if one is a single female past age 30, Christian talking heads will write blog posts or opine on television news programs that such women must have put career over marriage, or they are harpies who hate men – but this is usually not the case.
As a right wing (conservative) woman who always desired marriage, I find myself single by circumstance, not due to choice. I did not put career above dating or marriage, and so on and so forth. I find such assumptions, which are often held by other conservatives and by many Christians, deeply insulting and ask my fellow conservatives to stop making such assumptions.
The Dating Project Movie
Here are some links to articles about The Dating Project movie (a movie which I’ve only read a little bit about, I have not seen it yet):
The shock of reading Laura Sessions Stepp’s 2007 book, “Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both,” hadn’t worn off when I was offered the opportunity to view an advanced screening of “The Dating Project,” a film about modern relationships that will be released nationwide—for one night only—on April 17. Both are a wake-up call for Americans, many of whom are in the dark about how dramatically dating has changed.
So dramatically, in fact, that it no longer exists. Dating is officially dead.
“Dating is a drain on energy and intellect,” a young woman named Alicia tells Stepp. “We are overworked, over-programmed and overcommitted just trying to get into grad school, let alone get married. I don’t even know that relationships are seen as an integrated part of this whole ‘future’ idea.”
Enter “The Dating Project,” which conveniently picks up where Stepp’s book left off. “Our premise was to follow five single people trying to figure out dating in the age of social media, texting, hanging out, and hooking up,” writes Catherine Sample, one of the film’s producers.
.. The film is short, engaging and very well done—you will love the music, the cinematography and the dialogue. But to be honest, it struck me as immensely sad. The social environment young people inhabit feels akin to a brothel.
What they seem to know how to do best is have sex, or some version thereof. What they don’t know is Courtship 101, or how to develop an actual romantic relationship. They just skip to the end and wonder why they’re dissatisfied.
Indeed, it’s not an exaggeration to say the entire process of dating—getting excited about someone you meet and letting him or her know via flirtation, waiting for the man to make the first move and then the woman accepts and the two go out somewhere for the evening—is gone. Gone. Instead, young people text each other to come over and “hang out.” Then they get naked.
“Relationships and marriage is probably one of the most important things you’re going to do in your life, right? But people don’t spend any time doing anything about it,” notes Chris Donahue, another one of the film’s producers.
That’s because young people are no longer groomed for marriage, which is essentially what dating is (or was): a necessary selection process for the purpose of making a final choice in a mate. With that process gone, young people are lost. They forge ahead with the sex because that part’s easy. But love eludes them.
…Apparently, Cronin’s [college instructor’s] famous “date assignment” garnered enough attention to warrant a prominent place in a newly released documentary, The Dating Project. The film had a one-day screening in theaters on Tuesday. Directed by Jonathan Cipiti, The Dating Projects presents the stories of regular people and their experiences with relationships—or lack thereof.
… The Dating Project criticizes hookup culture—a society that prioritizes and socially rewards people who engage in short-term encounters based only on physical attraction.
… Throughout The Dating Project, the audience watches over a long period of time as Cecilia, Rasheeda, and Chris struggle with loneliness and dissatisfaction with romantic relationships, while tracking Chilton and Mahmood over a short period of time as they discuss their thoughts and feelings about the dating assignment.
Dating is hard, right? You seek, you don’t find … you keep seeking.
Or you seek, find, but it doesn’t end well, and you keep seeking. The scenarios are many, but the long-standing question still remains: Will I ever find that one person who is right for me?
A new documentary, “The Dating Project,” is coming to theaters April 17, to show you’re not alone in your singledom.
The film, a one-night Fathom Event follows five singles (20-somethings to 40-somethings) in their quest to find love. Kerry Cronin, associate director of the Lonergan Institute and philosophy fellow at Boston College, is our guide.
Cronin has gained fame on her campus for assigning students to ask someone out on a date.
For 12 years, she has required students to follow certain dating parameters, like asking for a date in person and no physical interaction (except an A-frame hug).
Dates with more than two people aren’t allowed, and the asker should have a plan for the date (asking the other person what to do isn’t allowed). Cronin coaches students on how to date successfully — she explains what a proper date looks like and how the dates should advance without skipping important steps to cement a foundation for a solid relationship.
…“Dating is the same kind of thing [similar to manners] — at it’s worst, it can make you feel like there are normative ways you’re supposed to act, and if you’re not doing that, you’re excluded, you’re out. So at its worst, it can be a really rigid system that only rewards people who are in certain circumstances, but at it’s best, what it can offer us are ways to navigate social vulnerability and social awkwardness.
“At its best, it can be something where you’re just saying I just want to go get coffee with you. I’m not asking you to marry me.”
The Chicago Tribune talked to Cronin and Megan Harrington, co-writer/producer of “The Dating Project” to find out why a film like this is necessary. The interview has been condensed and edited.
Q: What was the impetus for doing this film now?
Harrington: People aren’t as happy; people are more lonely and kind of just doing what they’re told romance is supposed to be and finding that it’s a little bit empty.
What I discovered along the way of doing this film is we are all in control about how we approach this (dating), how we treat others and how we’re allowed to be treated. And if we want more, then we can do that.
If we want to go out on a date, then let’s start dating in a way that professor Cronin lays it out because it takes a lot of pressure off of people. This is the script we’re going off of for this date, and now I don’t have to worry as much about what this is supposed to entail.
Q: In the film, you mention dating apps make it seem relationships aren’t big deals, but they are. Can you expound on that?
Cronin: One thing that hookup culture has done is reduce everything to just hanging out.
We never really say to each other or to ourselves what we really mean or what we want.
We’re sort of putting our own desires and longings on hold because we’re not supposed to go there, that’s “too serious, that’s too much to ask, it’s too vulnerable, it’s too awkward.”
But when we do that, we stop admitting to ourselves how things leave us feeling.
…Q: Why does dating confound so many generations?
[Note from this blog owner: Christian teachings on gender roles (i.e., complementarianism) and dating since the 1970s is just as bad and problematic, and contributes to keeping singles who desire marriage single]
Cronin: I think what’s happened since the early ’90s is hookup culture has become such a dominant social script — first on college and university campuses, but then it really took hold in the wider culture.
Hookup culture became so dominant that traditional dating really was pushed aside; I think dating really became a lost social script. I think, for older people, it became a cultural thing rather than a generational thing.
Q: You’ve been teaching this “dating assignment” for over a decade, do you think dating has gotten worse or better?
Cronin: I think it’s gotten a little bit worse in the past two to three years. I have seen a shift that more students are just opting out of the whole thing (dating) altogether — they’re not dating, they’re not hooking up as much either. But it’s not that they don’t want to. They just can’t see their way forward at all.
I feel really sad about that. I think it has to do with the extended adolescence trend that’s going on, and I think a lot of our really productive conversations about sexual assault are also scaring a lot of people off of dating. That to me is a conundrum.
(Link): Christian ‘Married People’ Privilege – Most Marrieds Remain Amazingly Blinded to Christian Discrimination Against Singles Or Write Unmarrieds’ Concerns Off, As Though They Are Nothing Compared to Marriage/ Parenting.
(Link): “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” – one of the most excellent Christian rebuttals I have seen against the Christian idolatry of marriage and natalism, and in support of adult singleness and celibacy – from CBE’s site
(Link): Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church?by Gina Dalfonzo