Dinner ended; he had to go pack for his trip. I asked casually when I was going to see him again.
He sighed. “That’s a loaded question.”
I asked what he meant, because I thought the question was fairly straightforward. Then it came. The story. The long, boring, aggravatingly rehearsed and condescending story…”
Then college junior Marguerite Fields was describing another failed relationship with a non-committal man in her winning essay, “Want to Be My Boyfriend? Please Define,” in the New York Times 2008 “Modern Love” college essay contest. The Times had invited college students to submit their personal stories of dating, love and relationships to better understand how love is perceived by digitally-mind Millennials. If you want to learn about love in the modern era, why not ask those early 20-somethings who are entrenched in it every day?
The more than 1,200 essays submitted from 365 schools – 700 essays came in on the last day, in typical college fashion – were both “overwhelming and eye opening” according to the Times staff, so much that they once again asked college students to submit their stories of modern love three years later. The winning author will receive $1,000, and his or her essay will appear in the Times tomorrow.
The top Modern Love columns from 2008 are currently posted on www.nytimes.com. They are honest, witty and depictive of a generational shift in what is perceived as “normal” in the dating scene.
“With so many avenues for communication, one might expect an onslaught of romantic soliloquies, but that isn’t the case. Casual is sexy. Caring is creepy. You don’t want to show your hand, and you certainly don’t want to fall in love. At least until you do, and by then it’s too late.”
Joel Walkowski, “Let’s Not Get to Know Each Other Better”
“The Internet was more than just a direct wire to the world. It had become a vehicle for my desire to be loved.”
Roger Hobbs, “Instant Message, Instant Girlfriend”
These excerpts, along with the stories yet to be published this year, prove that modern love is difficult to define and even more difficult to navigate, just some of many challenges Catholic singles face, no matter what their age.
CatholicMatchers, how do you describe modern love? How has the 21st century version of love, dating and relationships affected your experience on CatholicMatch?