A college course teaches students to date. Fun & sad.

Summary: Humanities departments are working to remain irrelevant in the 21st century. Boston College’s innovative philosophy department teaches students to date! Sadly, that is irrelevant. The reason why reveals much about our situation.



A fun story resurfaced again in the news, again. It has it all: coed sex, oldsters’ advice about the good old days and our Highway to Hell, a demo that the Humanities are usually dead time for undergraduate studies, and How We’ve Changed. Let’s cut through the journalist nonsense and learn from this story.

First, let’s set the stage. Kerry Cronin is a Fellow of the Philosophy Department at Boston College (and Associate Director of its Lonergan Institute). Most journalists falsely describe here as a professor. Boston College was founded as a Roman Catholic college providing a Jesuit education. Now it dances, implying to parents that it still does while assuring students that it doesn’t (see here).

Cronin is famous for giving extra credit in her philosophy course to students who ask someone out on a first date, which she began doing a dozen or so years ago. She provides rules and guidelines – a thousand words of instructions for attempting this lost art form. For those that do not want to spend $65,000 (plus expenses) for four years to gain these insights, there are many YouTube videos of her lectures (the first date, “Level Two Dating“, “Hanging Out and Hooking Up.” She has an M.A. in Philosophy is presently a doctoral candidate in education (research in “moral reasoning”).

She wants students to relearn behaviors of the past – simpler and better times. Journalists love stories like this. Stories about Cronin pop up every few years. Here’s a Boston Globe article from 2014; here is a similar Globe article this week. Articles about “those darn kids” have been a standard recourse of journalists for slow news days back to the 19th century.

Those familiar with run-of-the-mill humanities academics instructing us about life will suspect that she is making all this up. Her qualifications to teach this appear to be nil. As has been pointed out many times, many of her beliefs are wrong. Behavior of young people has not changed that much during the past few generations. Here is a debunking by Eliana Dockterman in TIME.

The real story

“She isn’t trying to bring back dating, she is trying teach how to get a plate of pasta and a tiramisu desert with a girl’s hookup.”
Comment about Cronin by Damn Crackers at Dalrock’s.

Since cheap and easy contraceptives and social changes liberated young people from oldsters’ control, cisgender sexual patterns have changed little. Cronin ignores the big change. The changes that transforms the relationships of young men and women. We now have decade of serial monogamy before marriage, high rates of divorce followed by more serial monogamy – plus decreasing rates of marriage.

Dating was the process of getting to know someone before making a serious commitment to lifetime bonding. Men paid for dates to demonstrate their ability and willingness to support a family (their role as provider). That is in the dustbin of history. It is as relevant to our society as a young man hunting a deer with a knife to become a full adult.

See the median age of first marriage (from the Census). Men buying women dinners for a decade or more makes no sense in our society, for many obvious reasons. Dating was a first stage to courtship (see Dalrock’s incisive analysis). Cronin is in effect teaching students a once vital skill, like weaving baskets from reeds.

Median Age of First Marriage 1980 to 2017

Wise words from a real professor of the humanities

For a better understanding of the situation of young men and women, I recommend turning to Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind. Published in 1987, it provides more timely analysis than you will find in most newspapers.


Closing of the American Mind
Available at Amazon.

Students do not date anymore. …They live in herds or packs with no more sexual differentiation than any herds have when not in heat. Human beings can, of course, engage in sexual intercourse at any time. But today there are none of the conventions invented by civilization to take the place of heat, to guide mating, and perhaps to channel it. Nobody is sure who is to make the advances, whether there are to be a pursuer and a pursued, what the event is to mean. They have to improvise, for roles are banned, and a man pays a high price for misjudging his partner’s attitude. The act takes place but it does not separate the couple from the flock, to which they immediately return as they were before, undifferentiated.

Women are still pleased by their freedom and their capacity to chart an independent course for themselves. But they frequently suspect that they are being used, that in the long run they may need men more than men need them, and that they cannot expect much from the feckless contemporary male. They despise what men used to think women had to offer (that is partly why it is now offered so freely), but they are dogged by doubt whether men are very impressed by what they are now offering instead. Distrust suffuses the apparently easy commerce between the sexes. There is an awful lot of breaking up, surely disagreeable, though nothing earthshaking. Exam time is a great moment for students to separate. They are under too much stress and too busy to put up with much trouble from a relationship. …

The problem …is that they have no common object, no common good, no natural complementarity. Selves, of course, have no relation to anything but themselves, and this is why “communication” is their problem. Gregariousness, like that of the animals in the herd, is admitted by all. Grazing together side by side and rubbing against one another are the given, but there is a desire and a necessity to have something more, to make the transition from the herd to the hive, where there is real interconnection. Hence, the hive – community, roots, extended family – is much praised, but no one is willing to transform his indeterminate self into an all too determinate worker, drone or queen, to submit to the rank-ordering and division of labor necessary to any whole that is more than just a heap of discrete parts. Selves want to be wholes, but have lately also taken to longing to be parts.

This is the reason why conversation about relationships remains so vacuous, abstract and unprogrammatic, with its whole content stored in a bottle labeled “commitment.” It is also why there is so much talk about phenomena like “bonding.” In the absence of any connectedness in their souls, human beings seek reassurance in fruitless analogy to mechanisms found in brutes. But this will not work because human attachment always has an element of deliberate choice, denied by such analogy. …Friendship, like its related phenomenon, love, is no longer within our ken because both require notions of soul and nature that, for a mixture of theoretical and political reasons, we cannot even consider. …

Romantic love is now as alien to us as knighterrantry, and young men are no more likely to court a woman than to wear a suit of armor, not only because it is not fitting, but because it would be offensive to women. As a student exclaimed to me, with approval of his fellows, “What do you expect me to do? Play a guitar under some girl’s window?” Such a thing seemed as absurd to him as swallowing goldfish.


Dalrock’s analysis

Hat tip to Dalrock for Cronin’s work. See his analysis her shtick: Casual dating and serial monogamy as lost virtues.

A commenter watched her video about “Level 2 Dating.” He said it advocates being the chaste boyfriend. Dalock gave a harsh rebuttal to that: “The folly of the celibate boyfriend.” Also see…

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about women and gender issues, about romance, and especially these…

  1. A look at America’s future after marriage becomes rare.
  2. Modern women say “follow the rules while we break them.”
  3. Forms to sign before having sex. Progress or madness?
  4. See universities’ programs to regulate sex. The apps are amazing!
  5. The unexpected response to the sexual harassment crisis.
  6. Second thoughts about romance in the #MeToo age.
  7. Look beyond the stories to see how we define harassment.

Two books by Professor Regnerus that help explain the situation

Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying (2011).

Strongly recommended: Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy (2017).

See my posts about Cheap SexMisadventures of a young woman in modern America. and Cheap Sex is the Inconvenient Truth in the end of marriage.

Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying.
Available at Amazon.
Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy
Available at Amazon.


18 thoughts on “A college course teaches students to date. Fun & sad.”

    1. I would respond to Allie this way:

      Imagine if women focused their femininity on cooking, cleaning, looking neat, staying in shape, being kind and gentle, and raising children, instead of being mean, bitchy, fat, rude, and trying to get men to destroy each other just to put their dicks in them.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        An answer to you:

        (1) Because once the two kids are in school, running a household is a part-time job. Once the kids are gone, it is not even that.

        (2) In our economy, most wives have to work outside the home to maintain a middle class lifestyle.

        (3) Women are as smart as men, and a life constrained to those things would blow the mind of any above-intelligence woman.

  1. I value your posts and often share them on social media. However, I really urge you to make an arrangement with a friend who will proofread your posts before yoy publish them. The innumerable typos threaten to make you seem like a crank or drunk to the uninitiated.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Please gives some examples. I ran this through MS Word, which should pick up most spelling and grammar errors.

      As for the rest, these posts take a lot more to write time to write than most of what you see on most websites. Anyone who dismisses them on the basis of spelling, rather than content, is inconsequential in my opinion.

      More broadly, I share T.E. Lawrence’s view of such things. As a genius and a scholar, he is a fit model for emulation. I recommend reading his sarcastic replies to the publisher’s proof notes to Seven Pillars of Wisdom. For example, the publisher complained about his various spelling of the same person (Sherif Abd el Mayin):

      “Good egg. I call this really ingenious.”

    2. Are you saying he’s a crank because he probably hasn’t been on a university campus since the Reagan administration but thinks he has a pulse on the contemporary dating patterns of college students? Or are you saying it’s the oafish spelling errors he routinely makes in the one and only language he speaks that makes him look like a crank? No one’s perfect oss.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “he probably hasn’t been on a university campus since the Reagan administration but thinks he has a pulse on the contemporary dating patterns of college students?”

        So you think astronomers travel the universe? If you read these posts, you’ll see I usually cite reliable sources — not personal observations. As I did in this very post. That’s quite a reading Fail.

        “the oafish spelling errors he routinely makes”

        I suggest that you no longer read the FM website. Life is short, and you seem unable to absorb the info here.

      2. Larry Kummer, Editor

        On reflection about SoSoHa’s comment —

        SoSoHa gives us a remarkable display of ignorance. My posts here are almost all presentation of data and analysis of it. I seldom – very seldom – rely on my personal observations.

    3. From the essay.
      simper and better times

      Should be “simpler and better times”.

      cheap easy contraceptives

      Should have a comma between cheap and easy. Other than that I didn’t see anything for a grammar/spelling nazi to chew on.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor



        Omitting commas between adjectives is a common stylistic trope. It worked for Henry James.

  2. The Man Who Laughs

    I looked at a couple of her videos. I caught the one on Level 2 dating, and for some reason the first thing that came to my mind was a piece by Dalrock called “Don’t Be Her Celibate Boyfriend”, which is sort of what she seemed to be teaching, at least to the guys. I agree that this stuff is useless or worse. The second thing that came to my mind was that I have outlived my time, but I guess we all do if we live long enough.

    She’s a long way from the aging hippie who taught my college philosophy class back in the days. Then again, what the aging hippie taught wasn’t of much practical use either.

  3. http://alaindebotton.com/

    Alain De Botton has a lot of good advise about the perils of love, why we fall in love, why we fall out of love, and how to make a relationship last, I learned a good deal about myself through his work. Philosophy has a lot of condensed wisdom in it, and as you said its free!

  4. Due to a WordPress system problem, a batch of comments were lost in the trash, including this one.


    LOL, that is hilarious. Feel free to drop me a note at ossicle at yahoo dot blahblah.

    Larry, my suggestion is offered in good faith, and I recommend that you take it in the same. But no, I’m not going to go through a selection of your posts and adduce evidence to convince you. If you care, then have a literate friend do exactly that, and judge as you will.


  5. Probably a coincidence, but I find it interesting that the years where the median age at marriage was the lowest coincided with our (USA) mid-20th Century peak of economic and political power (1940-1970).

  6. “Men paid for dates to demonstrate their ability and willingness to support a family (their role as provider). That is in the dustbin of history. It is as relevant to our society as a young man hunting a deer with a knife to become a full adult.

    See the median age of first marriage (from the Census). Men buying women dinners for a decade or more makes no sense in our society, for many obvious reasons. Dating was a first stage to courtship (see Dalrock’s incisive analysis). Cronin is in effect teaching students a once vital skill, like weaving baskets from reeds.”

    And this is why most of us as soon as we turned 16, we got jobs, bought clothes, learned to play instruments, learned to drive, got drunk, them got sober, pulled dumb stunts, etc. Of course at the beginning it was because we wanted to get laid, but later because we wanted to show how far we would go for m’lady. Because if you were 16 and you didn’t have a car, the girls would sense it and go with Chad and his beat up Pinto.

    And yes Mr Kummer, dating is becoming very archaic indeed. Because if you simply want to see a girl naked, you don’t have to pay for a date. All you have to do is check out sites like Periscope. Apparently there’s ladies willing to get naked for you and thousands of other pervs in front of a camera, and for a few likes in return. Screw chivalry, because it was the women who killed it in the first place.

  7. In the 1920s, many colleges were still divided into male and female. Yes, many universities were created for joint education. However, some colleges were opposed to boys and girls studying together, up to the 60s and 70s – these include Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth.

    At first, young men and women interacted only through closed student associations – they are still called, respectively, fraternity and soriti. Each of them had a name consisting of two or three Greek letters, and their common university life was called “greek life”. The fact is that initially the philosophy of uniting into brotherhood and sisterhood was based on common interests, ideals and goals, according to the Greek system of “Athenian ideals of friendship.” The entire social structure on campus was determined by the official “parties”.

    Any such “party” took place with a load of all sorts of formalities in the form of official speeches and other rituals. Since it was not very fun, and alcohol at any such events was strictly forbidden, the students drank away from campus: at concerts, in jazz clubs and at a party.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “Since it was not very fun,”

      What’s your basis for that statement? I know people who attended Cornell in that era, and they said it was a blast. In some ways, superior to the system as it was in the early 1970s when I was there. My guess it was far superior in most senses to the present system, in which a large fraction of students are alone and alienated.

      Also – your comments were eaten by the Akismet spam filter, for the usual inexplicable reasons (I pulled it out). Comments are impossible without it, but it is software – not magic – and makes mistakes. I deleted your duplicate comment.

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