So, you don’t have money to spare for either a dating coach or a matchmaker. Now, what?! Fortunately, there is a cheaper alternative…. dating classes. For adults, there are a number of inexpensive online classes through Udemy, and dating workshops through organizations such as Datingworkshop.org. These courses offer the advantage of being cheap, flexible to fit into your schedule, and provide short-term targeted skill building. For college students, a number of Korean and American universities now offer courses in dating.
South Korean Universities: With its tradition of focussing on education, it’s not surprising that almost all major Korean Universities offer dating courses; in contrast, there are only a few American colleges offering a formal dating class. Ever academic-oriented, dating courses at the Korean Universities are extremely popular. In the Wall Street Journal article “Failing at Love? Maybe It’s Time for Classes”, Sociology Professor, Hew Chang Duk, confessed to being shocked when he stepped into the classroom on the first day of his dating class. Like a sold out arena for rock concert, the classroom was packed with more than 250 students sitting at their desks or on the aisles, clearly way over the room’s seating capacity.
Why are Korean Universities Offering Dating Courses?
Duh…clearly these universities recognize that their students lack the dating skills necessary to develop long term relationships. Lee Myung-gil, a 39-year old dating coach, echoes this belief, explaining that Korea’s obsession on education is to blame for their young adult’s lack of important social skills. This obsession on academics had left young students without important skills required in a relationship including an inability to express their feelings to another person. Myung-gil who charges $275/hour for his coaching services said, “It’s no surprise those kids have no sense at all about dating when they got to college”. More importantly than the fact that young Koreans do not know how to date is that this shortcoming has resulted in lower marriage and birth rates that could eventually result in the extinction of the Korean population. Recognizing the importance of encouraging Koreans to marry and propagate, the Korean government has already spent $137 Billion over the past 13 years, offering low-interest home loans to newlyweds, and cash payments to new parents. Despite governmental efforts, Korea’s marriage rate is still at a 45-year low, and Korea ranks last in developed countries for birth rates. It’s no wonder Korean Universities are trying to use education as a way to spur relationships!
What type of Content and Assignments Are Taught in these Courses?
So, how do you teach a dating class? What type of assignments and content does one do in dating classes? Certainly, it won’t be solving math problem, or writing essays on Korean history! Dating classes in Korean Universities provide both academic learning about love/dating such as the chemical basis for attraction, and practical skills in the form dating exercises like how to ask someone out or how to carry on a conversation. For example, at Dongguk University class, “An Introduction to Dating”, the final exam questions were: (1) How long does the feeling of love last? and (2) What part of the brain produces dopamine? Answers to both at the end of this article! To encourage eye contact and just knowing how to have fun, Professor Duk will often award bonus points for laughing and making good eye contact during exercises. Other professors teach how to “chit chat”, how to ask someone out, etc. One of the most popular assignments at Korean Universities is for a student to go on a “fake date” with another classmate that is paired randomly. Each university puts their own spin by having some restrictions on the date such as limiting the amount of money spent on the date or requiring the date to last at least four hours. To verify the dates took place, students must use pedometers and take selfies on their date.
Like any college class, dating courses have assignments, tests, and projects. Should a student flunk, at test, miss too much classes, or fail to turn in papers, they will not pass and must retake the course. Not surprisingly, some students will actually flunk the class in order to retake the course after a breakup, or for more ongoing relationship advice! Now that’s a cheap way to get dating advice!
Students Reaction and Success:
It appears that most students have found the dating course to be helpful with building confidence, learning basic social skills, and finding love. One junior at Chungang University, Jeong Hoon, found that the dating course helped him learn how to express his feelings. Another student, Lee Jun-hee, who took a dating course on an exchange program at another Korean college was able to use her new knowledge and confidence to ask out a longtime crush who is now her boyfriend. Said Lee, “The class became a practice session for me”.
Like any other course, the dating course does not always ensure success in the real world. Take for example 24 year-old student, Jeong Hyun-seok who tried to use his new dating skills on his “fake coffee date”. Applying the lessons he learned about being a good conversationalist, Jeong listened intently and asked follow-up questions with his date. To his dismay, he noticed that his female date began rolling her eyes after a few minutes. Said Jeong, “I aced the test, but that got me nowhere near a girlfriend”. Perhaps, Jeong hadn’t heard of the famous quote, “‘A-students work for B-students at companies founded by C-students.” Maybe dating courses are like any other college course, that is, top grades don’t necessarily translate to success in real life! Jeong might not have gotten a girlfriend, but didn’t he learn yet another important lesson about dating?…that rejection is part of the territory!
Dating Courses in the United States:
Across the globe, some American universities offer dating courses similar to the Korean dating courses. One notable dating course was created by Boston College Professor Kerry Cronin. Here’s a great article about Professor Cronin and her class. As a Professor teaching her freshmen students how to live a meaningful life and become the person they aspired to through works from the Great Philosophers (Aristotle, Plato, Descartes), she observed the irony of the situation. While her students could easily master the complex work of the great philosophers, they were woefully unprepared for everyday life. Professor Cronin suspected that while prepared academically, her students were unprepared for actual real life experiences because they never tried to do anything that remotely was out of their comfort zone. So, in 2005, Cronin gave an assignment to her freshmen students that required them to ask out someone to an “old fashioned” date. What did she mean by old-fashioned date? For one thing, her students could not use today’s modern-day form of asking someone out, texting. Rather, students would have to ask a date in person. In addition, no phones could be used during the date, and the date had to be between 60 and 90 minutes. The goal of the assignment was not to necessarily find true love, but to make a true connection with someone, face to face., or to learn that rejection will not kill them.
Cronin theorized that her student’s fear of rejection and vulnerability was so great as to stop them from acting upon their desire. By requiring her students to do something that required courage and entailed possible rejection, Cronin hoped that her students would see that they could handle rejection. Discovering that they could handle rejection would then embolden students in feeling comfortable doing “scary things” outside the classroom which would then help them become the person that they aspired to be. Cronin also hoped to teach her students that their current form of seeking connection, i.e., “hookups”, was the result of not only the proliferation of social apps, but also their real fear of being vulnerable because “real” dating requires an emotionally connected relationship.
Bill McGarvey, author of “The Freshmen Survival Guide”, eloquently wrote, “That lack of courage was reflected most acutely on campus in the hookup culture that had largely replaced dating, an experience that students found satisfying in the short term but ultimately left them unhappy and wanting”. The subsequent popularity of this freshmen Philosophy assignment spurred Cronin to develop a dating course that explored underlying issues of relationships and practical help for being able to be intimate with others. Cronin’s course was actually made into an award winning documentary The Dating Project in April 2018. This documentary follows the stories of several Boston College students and Cronin’s class along with single people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
P.S.: The questions and answers to Dongguk University final exam questions : (1) How long does the feeling of love last? (Answer: 900 Days), and (2) What part of the brain produces dopamine? (Answer: the hypothalamus.)
****Cocktail Chatterers, do you think that colleges should make a dating class mandatory?****
Let us know in the comments below