Dating. A film about dating. Yes, you’ve got it. It may sound basic to you, but is it really? Writer and producer Megan Harrington, of the new film The Dating Project releasing April 17th in theaters nationally for a one-night showing, believes that, “This is a film about being human, about self-worth, and questioning what we are being sold by the popular culture.”
For single young adults, the prevalent hook-up culture makes entering into lasting, emotionally-connected relationships nearly impossible. What Boston College professor and Associate Director of the Lonergan Institute, Kerry Cronin realized in her philosophy class is that young adults do not know how to date. She wanted to address this issue by offering an extra credit project asking the students to go out on “traditional dates.” It became known as The Dating Project. She teaches the different levels of dating. When they are surprised when she tells them they need to talk to a person face-to face she questions them, “So to talk one-on-one with someone in person is more difficult than having sex with someone you don’t know in the dark?” They nod in the affirmative. Yes, it is surprising how contradictory the hook-up culture actually is. What surprised me the most and actually made me chuckle was how they were eagerly taking notes about the basics of going on a date with someone. Yet, at the same time with a heavy heart, it made me realize the social situation of our young adults today and how developing authentic relationships really is a desire of this generation.
The film follows two of Dr. Cronin’s students as she outlines the dating assignment and their amazement of how much they are looking for connection with another person but have not been taught to do so. It also follows three other young adults ranging in their 20s to 40s in different states across the country as they share their challenges of dating in a “swiping left and right” digital age. As the tagline of the movie states, this film is, “for every single person.” Each one of them shares the ups and downs of relationships and why so many of the current generation lack the desire for commitment, much less marriage. Actor and comedian Christopher Meehan and interviewee in the film states, “Why am I still single? I was not serious about being in a relationship. But now I am seriously considering it.”
What has prevented so many young adults from entering into committed relationships? Harrington comments, “People are so connected and not connected at the same time. So many young adults are lonely. We all want relationships but the superficial masks we wear on our social media platforms do not present our true selves. It’s not all bad, but it’s not the totality of who we are as human beings.”
The importance of this film cannot be understated. Every person can benefit from watching this amazingly crafted documentary, especially young adults, teens, and parents. Besides it being funny, engaging, and entertaining, the film presents a sobering reality of what a sexually free hook-up culture is doing to our youth today. It challenges all of us to help them see that relationships take time and work but it’s all so worth the effort! Hook-ups only objectify another human being leaving each person empty and unfulfilled. Relationships are meant to be beautifully fulfilling while enabling us to grow as human beings in genuine self-giving love. If young adults see this film, perhaps they may be the catalysts for change in their generation. It has the potential to create a cultural avalanche!