What dating process would give rise to companionate marriages? [Blogathon 11/12]

This post is number eleven of twelve for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon.  I’m responding to comments in the “Go Ahead, Tell Me What’s Wrong with Homosexuality” thread all day.  You can read an explanation of the Blogathon and a pitch for donations (even if you’re religious) here.

Ok, I’m one post from the end of the Blogathon, so I’m allowed to go off the deep end a little, right? In the last post, the Alan Jacobs quote suggested that Pride and Prejudice might be a good model for a romantic culture where intimate partnership isn’t limited to eroticism.  I think I’ve come up with another model that might be a little more adaptable to the modern age:

The college admissions process at Olin College of Engineering.

No wait, hear me out!  Olin uses a more conventional application process to winnow their pool to about 240 high school seniors and then requires them all to spend a weekend at Olin building things.  Also there is another round of interviews, but the admission decision is mostly based on your ability to take pleasure in solving problems and creating things with a group.

I’ve been using an OkCupid profile to go on dates in DC, and I find the interviewing-each-other-over-coffee model weird and stilted.  It’s certainly not a good proxy for what a relationship would be like.

Wouldn’t it be more fun to go out and build a trebuchet, or visit banks and then go to a park and discuss how you’d coordinate a break-in?  And just like at Olin, that discussion might be a good proxy for your ability to work with this person on other projects, like running a household, raising children, or taking over the world.

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as a statistician for a school in Washington D.C. by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • http://kpharri.wordpress.com/ Keith

    Brilliant idea!

    In fact, you may have hit on the paradigm that makes churches successful social venues. People go to church with a clear purpose and topic set out for them. As a result, social interactions don’t seem forced, because they’re not the central focus.

    When I was a Christian, most of my social life developed in the church setting. Even now, at the ripe old age of 38, and a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, my two longest lasting friendships both have their origins in a church social group.

    Coffee-table dates, then, are just too sterile. Too obvious.

    Why aren’t there dating sites that actually arrange interesting activities for their customers? Send them on a hike, or to the pumpkin-shooting contest (I hear they have trebuchets there!)?

  • Dave M

    People do not have the time, they need fast food-style dating to make up for Wall Street and the one percent’s destruction of the family unit so CEO’s can have another new house and sports car each Xmas. Sorry, America is ruined for dating, marriage and children; no one can afford to take time off for these things when you have to work 90-120 hours a week just to keep up with the bills and inflationary costs of food, gas, power and everything else we consume which is driven up in price every year to give rich people more money. Maybe if we all moved to China, a nation concerned with creating jobs and the poor, we might be able but as it stands here and now Americans are forced to forgo anything they might want.

  • Dave

    So, there is in fact a new dating startup that’s trying to make that concept work, called HowAboutWe.

    • Dave

      Just to add — I don’t work for them or even have any clue if their website is fun! Just find it interesting that such an approach exists.

    • leahlibresco

      Beat me to mentioning it, Dave. I tried it a couple of months ago, but most of the dates were “How about we… grab drinks,” which really misses the point. I posted a couple “How about we… go to this debate about the existence of God at Georgetown” type things and got no takers.

      • R.C.

        Clearly this is an indicator of your vocation to consecrated religious life.

        (I kid, I kid.)

  • AshtaraSilunar

    …Now I totally want to call my boyfriend and say, “Let’s go build a trebuchet!”

    My problem with the over-coffee model has always been my introversion. Most classic-first-date small talk questions are things that I consider, well, boring. The classic do-not-discuss topics like religion and politics are usually a lot more interesting.

    • Mike

      I agree! But nobody likes or can handle the inevitable tension that arises when interesting topics like religion and politics are brought up. But the unexamined like isn’t worth living, so sometimes you just have to forge ahead. And sometimes you have to know when to keep quiet.

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