Looking for Love

Tulane students cope with new dating culture

The prevalence of dating apps and hookup culture is a different landscape from the dating experiences of previous generations, but many students are still seeking serious and long-term relationships.

On college campuses around the country, students are swiping right, going out and hooking up. In a survey conducted by The Hullabaloo, however, 49 percent of students reported being in a serious relationship since starting college. More than half of these relationships lasted a year or longer.

“I’m not into the whole hookup scene that’s very popular here, so when I got more serious about finding a real girlfriend, I found it pretty accessible,” senior Dan Zucker said.

That is not the case for everyone, and the changing culture around dating makes college relationships challenging to navigate. While 65 percent of respondents said that they are seeking relationships, almost half of respondents said they have been unable to find a serious partner while at Tulane.

“I feel really hopeless at this point, and doubt I will find anyone,” freshman Sarah Jones said. “Yes, I am a feminist … but I want to find a husband, and I feel like that’s not going to happen [at Tulane].”

In the past, college campuses served as an expected place for relationships and marriages to form. Facebook data scientists conducted an analysis of profiles in 2013 that found around 28 percent of married college graduates, aged 25 or older, attended the same college.

Senior Russell Muller said he feels that college no longer serves that purpose.

“I don’t think that is true anymore … college is a different place now,” Muller said.

Many attribute this cultural shift to the rise of dating apps and hookup culture. Swiping is no longer just a way to enter residence halls or Bruff Commons — it is a hallmark of a new age of dating on college campuses.

Of the 524 survey respondents, 60 percent said they turned to dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr and others. These apps use the “hot or not” concept to match mutually-interested people for hookups or more serious connections.

A large part of the current college dating scene revolves around sex and casual hookups. 83 percent of survey respondents said they have been sexually active during their time at college, and 78 percent said they have engaged in at least one hookup.

“It seems like people would rather have something quick than work at something that is going to be better,” Muller said.

According to an ABC News article based on the study “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right: College Women on Mating and Dating Today,” 91 percent of college women say “hookup-culture” defines their campus.

Hookup culture or “just having fun” sexually is what some professionals believe created a generation incapable of love. Casual relationships often carry a stigma of being “bad” or “unhealthy” for reasons like increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and infections or that it may lead to depression or low self-esteem.

“[Dating] is very superficial …,” graduate student Ben Batalla said. “I think people aren’t sincere and clear about what their intentions are.”

Counseling and Psychological Services Director Donna Bender said she believes that casual sex itself is not inherently harmful, as long as individuals understand their needs.

“Some students that engage in hookup culture may feel fulfilled while others may feel that something deeper is missing … some people decide to stay single forever and some go the route of open relationships,” Bender said. “Whatever choice you make is okay, as long as it feels fulfilling to the person. Relationships are dynamic and the way we feel can change from month to month and year to year.”

Bender said any relationship, open or exclusive, is centered around consent and open communication. While some students believe they will not find “the one” in college, most are open to meeting new people and finding a relationship, whatever its form.

Leave a Comment