Wait to date

The toxicity of SPU’s dating culture

Annie Symons, Features Editor

Illustration by Caitlyn Schnider

You are in a gorgeous white gown walking down the aisle towards the love of your life. The train of your dress cascades behind you, catching the flower girl’s rose petals in its delicate stitching. You are almost to the front, reaching for your partner’s hand…

Then you wake up to a blaring alarm for your 8 a.m. class as a single, unpartnered individual. And you should thank your lucky stars for that.

The environment of Seattle Pacific puts immense pressure on students to partner up as soon as possible. Christian universities notoriously cultivate the ‘ring by spring’ ideology and inadvertently encourage students to only date a person if they see them as potential marriage material.

I often struggle with deciding what to eat for breakfast, much less who to spend my entire life with. Why must we be under so much pressure to date ‘the one’ when some of us can barely get to class on time?

You shouldn’t date to marry someone, you should date to get to know someone.

A casual approach to dating should be celebrated rather than criticized. Not only do you have the opportunity to meet new people and hear about their lives, but it relieves the immense societal pressure on SPU’s campus to find a life partner before earning your diploma.

If the person sitting next to you in UCOR asks you to get a cup of coffee after class, do it. A steaming americano and a couple hours of pleasant conversation never hurt anyone. Even if a romantic spark isn’t established, dating is such a simple way to find new friends or study buddies.

By definition, a date can be merely a social appointment or engagement. This may be a reflection of the English language’s shortcomings; a more specific word might be a bit more helpful here. Nevertheless, a date is a one-on-one interaction with another person, romantically-charged or not.

If I visit a museum with my roommate, take my little brother to the movies or schedule an office hour with a professor, each of those scenarios hypothetically qualifies as a date. I wouldn’t feel pressured in any of the aforementioned situations, so why are romantic dates always viewed as more stressful?

In the United States, 2021 saw the average marrying ages for men and women as 30.4 and 28.6. SPU students in their late teens or early twenties feel so rushed in their quest for a life partner, but the average American is waiting ten more years to settle down. So, if a dinner date at Gwinn doesn’t go as planned, don’t fret. Other people will come along in time.

Before someone even considers searching for a serious dating relationship, they need to make sure that they are a self-sufficient, functioning individual. A romantic partnership will never work unless the two parties have their own identities apart from the other person. While they should be an important part of your life, a partner should never be ‘your everything.’

As college students, we have bigger and better life events to worry about than dating—even if it doesn’t seem like it. Earning a degree, moving into an apartment or finding a dream job sounds much more appealing than getting ready for a first date and pressuring yourself to find out if your companion for the evening is marriage material.

Casual dating is not an invitation for people to take advantage of you, and it’s certainly not promiscuous. It’s a chance to release any built-up pressure about finding your perfect match and learn more about yourself in the process.

To anyone who worries about being single or not being ready to date romantically, I implore you to enjoy it. Take your time. A single relationship status presents a prime opportunity to become more self-aware and discover what you’ll hope for in a future romantic partnership.

Who wants to get a cup of coffee sometime?