Dating discussion focuses on cyber flirting, technology

Shelly Le

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Last Monday, April 23, Sharon Kaufman-Osborn, a counselor at Whitman, hosted a discussion focused on questions surrounding dating, relationships and self-confidence.

Credit: cade beck

Students met at the Glover Alston Center in the evening to express their frustrations with the Whitman dating scene. The event, which was organized by junior Resident Assistant Lillian Bailey, created a forum for students to discuss the difficulty of navigating relationships within the realm of technology and a small campus like Whitman.

“I think more people are scared to take a risk because there’s a high likelihood that a person [I like] will be in the same class as me and there’s little privacy in that,” said sophomore Becca Peterson-Perry, who attended the event.

The discussion was centered around the acronym “D-A-T-I-N-G”: Desire; Affection; Trust, timing and technology; Intimacy; Knowing what you want; and Getting it.

Kaufman-Osborn noted that Whitman’s small community often makes it difficult for students who wish to keep their relationships private.

“People are concerned about how to reach each other, and if they do connect, how to do so without everybody knowing,” she said.

Anonymous flirting sites such as likealittle.com and whitmanencounters.com have grown in popularity in the past year and a half and have been an outlet for students to express their frustrations and relationship desires.

“I think sometimes it’s cathartic for people to express themselves in a safe way,” she said. “However, these websites that allow people to interact anonymously still doesn’t accomplish what people want, which is some kind of connection.”

Kaufman-Osborn further noted that the difficulty of college dating lies with the different kinds of connections that students want with other people and the mistranslation that often follows.

“One of the challenges is that people want different kinds of connections and often don’t know what they want, or pursue one kind of tactic in order to get something else,” she said.

Kaufman-Osborn also highlighted the challenges of creating a meaningful connection with another individual amongst the rise of other forms of technology such as texting and Facebook.

Credit: cade beck

“There’s an immediate response with these new forms of technology and often these responses get misread or people are not as thoughtful as they might be,” she said. “There’s this immediacy, but it doesn’t really enable people to learn the skills that they might need to have relationships.”

The discussion also touched on how students in relationships often find themselves in relationships without fully developing their own self-worth.

“Part of the challenge is getting people to look inside themselves,” she said. “We have to look at . . . ‘Am I treating myself with compassion?’ It’s really hard to develop a relationship if we’re carrying around shame of ourselves.”

Peterson-Perry felt that this aspect of the discussion was particularly important for Whitman students.

“You see people who are only in relationships because they’re afraid to be alone or it’s comfortable,” Peterson-Perry said. “When SKO talked about that, I thought it was really fitting, especially considering how overcommitted and overbooked a lot of Whitman students are.”

 

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