Boston College theology and philosophy professor Kerry Cronin was celebrating the end of the semester with her graduating seniors when she asked them about their romantic lives. She was shocked to hear from her beautiful, intelligent and outgoing students that dating was something straight out of the dark ages, and she began asking students around campus about their participation in hookup culture.
Today, Cronin teaches a class in Boston College’s Perspectives Program and speaks at colleges across the country with her famous “Bring Back the Date” talk. Last semester, I received a Facebook invitation to her talk at Georgetown from my best friend at Boston College. I’d never heard of Kerry Cronin before, but I was told I absolutely had to meet her.
In her talk, she divided college students into three categories:
1. The pseudo-married couple: the couple that excessively uses “we” among other annoying couple habits.
2. Hooking up: the people playing along with the social script of partying and the idea that whoever cares less wins.
3. Opting out: the people that are too busy, too picky, too ambitious, too something to date.
At the end of the talk, Cronin gave the crowd an assignment, one that she mandates for students taking her class at Boston College. We had two weeks to ask someone on a date. The first two of Cronin’s 10 rules were this: We had to ask someone that we were legitimately interested in, and we had to ask them in person. Cue the hyperventilation. I always struggled with self-confidence and shyness. After taking up rowing, ending a toxic friendship, studying abroad and entering startup land, I’m the most confident I’ve ever been — except when it comes to the opposite gender.
I’m a self-proclaimed introvert. I tell my friends I don’t know how to socialize, flirt or put out the vibe with guys I’m interested in. I also have a running spreadsheet of goals I want to accomplish and I — in Cronins’s words — opt out of the dating game because I’m not looking forward to a difficult conversation later. I’ve had friends tell me I’m “so lucky” I’m single because I don’t have to consider a significant other in my future plans. They’re right. The whole world is open to me, and being single is one less factor as I navigate the job hunt.
On the other hand, I’ve never been on a date. (High school doesn’t count.) Cuddling with my reliable yet meaningless hookup, I thought, “I would love real cuddling in a real relationship,” and everything that comes with it. As Cronin finished her talk, I asked myself, “Can I do this challenge?” I want to be someone who isn’t afraid of anything, so my answer is yes, I can and yes, I did.
We’ll call him Frosted Flakes since I’m trying to be a “cereal” dater. FF and I were working on a group project in Lauinger Library — brutalist design and memories of equally brutal all-nighters echoing in the room are clearly the stuff of romance novels. Since we are both foodies, I already decided we would go to China Chilcano if he said yes. As I got up to leave, he asked if I wanted coffee. For your enjoyment and mine, here is the train wreck that followed:
Me: Will you go on a date with me?
FF: Like for coffee?
Me: Yeah, sure, coffee … or a restaurant. There’s this restaurant I really wanted to try.
FF: Is this real?
Me: Yeah, do I sound like I’m lying? I’ve never asked someone on a date before.
FF: To be honest, I’m dating someone
Me: Okay … Well, I asked you because of this challenge from this talk I went to about how no one dates in college and we had two weeks to ask someone on a date…
FF: Oh, so this WASN’T real?
FF: My heart felt all warm!
Me: I need to go to Safeway now. [exit and proceed to relay the hilarity to my Uber driver]
As far as rejections go, it could have been worse. The most excruciating feelings in the whole transaction came from the wondering — “Should I?” and “What if?”— and the moments right before the question as I visibly shook with anxiety. Immediately after the rejection, I was proud I asked and felt a new level of confidence. The world didn’t end. My ego wasn’t bruised. My friend later said to him, “I heard she asked you on a date,” and he politely denied it. For the rest of the semester, he acted like nothing happened.
If you have a group-project crush, just go for it. If your crush says no, the world won’t end. Your ego might be bruised for a day and he will probably act like nothing happened. I thought that the first time was the hardest, so I resolved to become a serial dater. Here’s to asking the next guy and to a semester of laughable attempts at serial dating. Now, who will you ask?
The Georgetown Cereal Dater is a Senior Washed-Up Girl in the McDonough School of Business. Her favorite cereal is Sprinkles Cookie Crisp but French Toast Crunch is a close second. If you can think of a college crush archetype for her next ask, leave a comment!
The Cereal Dater is a senior in the McDonough School of Business. Resurrect the Date appears every other Friday.