Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

STUDENT AND THE CITY: Is “going steady” too much to expect in college?


Student and the City is a column dedicated to asking the big questions that all college-aged students are asking. It will explore different social concepts within the younger generations regarding relationships, lifestyle, social media and more. 

Our generation follows series of couples with different definitions of what it means to date. 

Prior to the 1900s, dating was an emotionless process that women would participate in solely to find a suitor to marry. As the turn of the century turned into the ‘20s and ‘30s, universities and workplaces became more popular and gave youngsters the chance of meeting a variety of new people at the same time, according to the Encyclopedia of Gender and Society by Jodi O’Brien. This is when a more modern concept of dating came to be– dating to have fun. 

Transitioning into the ‘50s, falling in love became more important to the younger generations. “Going steady” became a popular term to define a relationship as exclusive. 

However, young people rebelled against the idea of traditional love in the ‘60s and ‘70s and embraced ideas that had been forbidden by society. According to Edmund Lindop’s book, America in the 1960s, “Sex before marriage was no longer taboo. Young people extolled the benefits of ‘free love.’” There were no longer rules or expectations for dating and “hookup culture” was born.

Over the last few decades, this culture has barely shifted. Universities still provide the same opportunity they did a century ago. Students are pooled together all over the world in dorms and classes, and social media has played a big part in this as well. 

The question is: Is “going steady” too much to expect in college?

Commitment seems to be a scary thing for many students in 2021. For some reason, committing to one person is seen as more of a burden than a goal. College is expected to be the best time of your life, as it is the last time you will not be faced with any real responsibilities or (usually) real consequences. Partying and “hooking up” are seen as essential to have a full college experience before entering the real world. Being tied down to one person threatens this experience. 

Oftentimes, the dating process is reversed from what it was a century ago. Traditionally, after meeting a person, you would go out on a first date followed by several more until you decide to either date exclusively or go your separate ways. Intimacy grew slowly throughout the relationship as the couple developed their feelings and got closer. Now, the idea of intimacy is different. Two people could have been as intimate with each other as humanly possible, but then are nervous to text each other the next day. 

Do students still go out on dates? It seems “Netflix-and-chill” has become the new expectation for the first date in our generation. Without the effort of going out, can you really expect the relationship to be exclusive one day? 

In many cases, the answer to that question is yes. Successful relationships have formed from this process. However, it often causes heartache. No matter how much time you spend with someone or how intimate you are with that person, it is not guaranteed you will receive a text or a call, or you will ever see them again. They might just not be ready for a relationship.

What does that mean– not ready for a relationship? Here are some excuses I have heard:

“I am working on myself right now.” 

“I am not over my ex yet.” 

“I am not the commitment type.”

This generation is more selfish than the previous – and this can be both a good and a bad thing. Individuals are putting themselves and their needs first now more than ever, which is important.

Many do not want to commit because they do not want to get hurt or they do not want a relationship to interfere with their college life.

As young people are focusing on themselves, “going steady” may just be too much to ask.

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About the Contributor
Julia Ahaesy, Opinion Editor, Social Media Manager | she/her
Julia is a senior studying public relations at Suffolk University. Along with her roles of co-opinion editor and co-social media editor at The Suffolk Journal, she writes weekly for her column, Student and the City. On the few occasions she is not writing, you can find her buried in the latest issue of Vogue, wandering the city, or drinking too much coffee. Native to Massachusetts, she will be joining the Massachusetts Air National Guard after graduation. She is currently studying abroad in London, England. Julia hopes to continue traveling as she explores the arts and culture industries in her future. Follow Julia on Twitter @juliaahaesy Email her at [email protected]

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STUDENT AND THE CITY: Is “going steady” too much to expect in college?