Somethings in the air dating game

Married with Secrets takes an in-depth look at what happens when happily ever after goes horribly wrong when husbands and wives embark on secret lives that take them down dark paths, leading to devastating results.Homicide Hunter is a non-fiction investigative series of murder cases told through the personal experience of retired detective, Lieutenant Joe Kenda.In the land of emoticons and abbreviated IM-speak, guys and gals say it’s much easier to be themselves.“The psychology of [courtship] hasn’t changed that much, but the details are different.” —Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University and a nationally recognized expert on interpersonal relationships “I know a lot of people at school who started off relationships through Instant Messenger,” says Knihnicki, who plans to pursue a Ph. in social psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.And while this was the couples’ third or fourth date—the years have tattered details—there would be several more dates to come before the two would share their first kiss.

On the other hand, there are still an awful lot of norms that apply to the process—rituals about meeting each other’s friends, about spending time together, about sharing rooms.

In fact, the informal tone of courtship among 20-somethings makes “the date”—nervous hand-holding in cinema light, toe-tingling good-night kiss under the stars, anxious anticipation of that next-day phone call—seem Capraesque if not cliché. “There were exceptions, but for the most part, relationships and dating were very casual affairs when I was at school,” says Epstein. For those far removed from today’s dating scene and from the 20-something age bracket, this may sound more like a course in conceptual art.

Instead, for many college students, scripted romantic concepts—boy-meets-girl, boy-pursues-girl, boy-marries-girl—have metamorphosed into relationships defined more by a nebulous, less goal-oriented “closeness” that ranges from one-nighters to monogamy (with very little, it seems, in between). “People just hung out together, met up at parties, grabbed a cup of coffee, that type of thing. But for college-age Generation Y’ers, this is the new vocabulary of courtship and the jargon of the modern and, of course, technologically savvy, dating scene.

Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University and a nationally recognized expert on intimacy and attachment in interpersonal relationships, says that while the formal rituals of the past are losing their relevancy for today’s young couples, the underlying psychology of courtship has remained relatively unchanged.

“I think there are still norms for courtship and there clearly is still a process going on,” says Reis.

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Ask Joan Knihnicki ’03, the self-professed “love goddess” and former author of “Sex and the CT,” a wink-wink, half-humorous, half-serious advice column in the Campus Times, if she and her former boyfriend ever went on a “date,” and the response, while somewhat of a semantics issue, does offer insight into how college courtship has changed. There was a fuzzy boundary between friendship and romance.” Hanging out. While much sociocultural analysis ink has been spilled on the “hookup,” the 21st-century version of “free love” that can include anything from a night of dancing and drinking to, shall we say, heavy petting, many Rochester students (in an admittedly small sample of those willing to discuss their love lives), say just as common on campus is the philosophical inverse, the pseudomarriage: A couple trades in a comfortable friendship for a monogamous domestic partnership, sharing everything from deepest thoughts to Douglass Dining Hall meals to an unbearably small dorm room bed in Tiernan or Lovejoy.

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