“Hillsdale is just obsessed with dating,” Kaitlyn Zellner, a counselor who works for the college, told me.
When I asked for feedback on this article, I received over a dozen pitches from students and alumni offering to share the intimate secrets of their love life.
Money magazine ran an article a few years ago analyzing how college male-to-female ratios affect their dating cultures. After comparing the dating scenes at many universities with different male-to-female ratios, the author concluded that female-dominated colleges tend to be very crowded, while colleges with more men have a scene. more traditional dating.
The results may seem a little counterintuitive – aren’t men the ones who go after one night stands more often? – but it’s not about desire. It is a question of economy. When the dating market has more options for men, it’s easier for them to go the easy way: forget about the coffee date, fall in bed. But when fewer women are available, they may be forced to buy a few slats.
My friend Renee Dodson, a fourth year student at Georgia Tech (63% male, 37% female), explained it to me this way: “People want what they can’t get – that goes for girls. and guys. Whenever there is a shortage of something, people work harder for it.
But what are the meetings like at Hillsdale, a university with not only a balanced male-to-female ratio, but also a predominantly religious student body?
Associate Dean for Women Rebecca Dell said academics and culture are driving the dating scene far more than the male-to-female ratio, which is split exactly in the middle. The college’s website reports that Hillsdale’s student body is 49% male and 51% female, but Dell said this semester it was 50 to 50.
You would think that the dating culture would also be divided: half of the students go online (off campus, of course), half of them have coffee at Checker Records. But this is simply not the case. There is something different about the culture of Hillsdale.
Sex still does happen, which Zellner and Director of Health Services Brock Lutz have acknowledged, but more and more students seem to be navigating the dating scene – or giving up dating altogether.
“I think a lot of our students are actually afraid to engage or reach out to the opposite sex in a casual way because they are very protective of their hearts and want to live their relationships honorably. “said Lutz. “This is obviously a good thing, but I think it can keep people very cautious, maybe too cautious, and can lead others away from just knowing other people of the opposite sex, which could turn into A love relationship.”
The deep desire for romantic companionship coupled with the fear of failure, a phenomenon resulting from unwilling will relationships students call “hillsdating,” perhaps the result of a high performing student body and spiritually. serious.
Elder Luke Miller, who is currently engaged, said Hillsdale’s culture means “it’s really hard to go out casually, but it also makes emotional and spiritual intimacy a lot more central.”
But the best intentions don’t always achieve the desired results.
“I think the Hillsdale culture takes relationships so seriously that it can either prevent people from reaching out or stifle a young relationship with a lot of serious expectations,” Elyse Hutcheson said. “Sometimes I think people take getting to know other people too seriously, especially if they come from a very conservative background where finding what works best for you through multiple casual relationships. is despised. “
Second-year student Katie Dimmer agreed that Hillsdale students value intentional relationships, but added that the fear of ruining everything doesn’t always come from internal pressure. On a small campus, it sometimes seems like everyone is watching, she said.
“It’s really very ‘high school’ most of the time here,” Dimmer said. “Everyone’s eyes are always on you, and if one person knows it, then everyone knows it. “
She said she would never feel like she has the “social ability” to approach someone she cares about. He could say no. He could tell his friends. She should explain everything to her friends. Can flirting just be flirting, or should it be the next topic of conversation over dinner in the dining room?
Dani Morey ’17 – who has been dating her boyfriend, also a former student, since the summer after her freshman and sophomore – said the community near Hillsdale can both strengthen and stifle relationships.
“One of the things I love about Hillsdale is how close everyone is, so everyone cares about each other and is involved in each other’s lives. However, I think it’s damaging when applied to relationships. When you are having a bad time with your partner, this is not the time when you want mutual friends to text you trying to act as a go-between because they think you are taking a break, ”he said. said Morey. “Ever since he left college, and even when he graduated and I was finishing my senior year, it was like the unwanted third in our relationship had finally left us.”
She also said she worried about the “public relations side” of her relationship. Would people find their dates romantic enough? Would people think they were fighting unless they made a public appearance at AJ’s Café for a date with ice cream? (Maybe they should try the birthday cake flavor.)
The entire atmosphere can seem overwhelming at times, but some students can put pressure on themselves.
“The dating scene in Hillsdale is not at all healthy,” said Kathryn Wales, part-time teacher at Hillsdale Academy, after 30 seconds of talking about dating at college. “A lot of the girls I’ve met think that if they’re dating someone, it really has to be their husband. They’re not having sex. If it’s obvious, you should date a lot. people, you learn a lot about yourself.
Senior Patrick Lucas, who said he was gay and never had a date in Hillsdale, told me he’d like to go out on a date or two, but focus on meeting a loved one is an abuse of her little time here.
“This is not the purpose of college,” Lucas said. “It’s about finding the good, the real and the beautiful, not finding people who are looking for them as well.”
A handful of students, including Morey, have reached out to express their frustration at the pressure they feel to get a “ring by spring,” a term ubiquitous in many Christian colleges – and little used anywhere. elsewhere.
Senior Chandler Ryd, who is engaged to senior Lara Forsythe, said students should take dating seriously, but they shouldn’t take themselves seriously. Because he wanted to be intentional in his relationships, when he first heard the term “hillsdating” after arriving on campus, he decided to be careful to avoid it.
“People told me about it, and I thought, ‘This is stupid. I don’t want to do this. You have to work to discern what the relationship is, ”said Ryd.
Elder Mehgan Cain said students should relax both themselves and their relationships.
“I think a lot of Hillsdale’s students tend to take themselves a little too seriously, which causes them to take dating too seriously,” she said. “As children between the ages of 18 and 22, we haven’t even met the majority of people we will know in our lifetime, but so many people are determined to find a soul mate here. It’s just not for me. I think dating someone in their early 20s should be less stressful and more relaxed.
Wales said the Hillsdale community provides the perfect environment for healthy dating, but students could manage it better.
“I wish there was a way to inspire everyone to agree to relax about dating,” Wales said. “If you realize that you are not compatible, do not blame the Holy Spirit for it.”