What is dating like at Lancaster Bible College? The previous article in this series looked at LBC’s dating culture from the male student’s perspective. Is the dating culture any different from the female student’s perspective?
Senior Andrea Smith, who recently got married after dating throughout Bible college, said she sees a lot of pressure to date at LBC.
“Both my parents graduated from Bible college,” she said. “I was talking to my dad halfway through freshman year about how stir-crazy people seem to be about dating and finding somebody. He described Bible college like a pressure cooker. You have all the stress of strange deadlines that don’t apply any other time in your life, and a bunch of people told a godly marriage is the way to the ideal Christian life. (You have) all these hormones and emotions, and a time limit of four years.”
She added, “All these at the same time, make (the pressure to date) way more intense than it would be outside the college setting, and a lot more intense than it could be otherwise.”
Senior Madelyn Schwartz agreed.
“There’s a pressure in college to date, and I think that’s on LBC’s campus as well,” she said. “I thought it was just a Bible college thing, but I’ve been told it’s a stage of life thing.” She continued, “and in a college environment, you have people around that are in relationships or people that are making jokes. I remember coming for orientation (and someone joking) that you could meet your significant other here, and that put me in a mindset that I don’t think was a healthy thing.”
Schwartz explained she found the jokes about going to college to get married particularly unhelpful.
“It sounds like a joke,” Schwartz said, “but for people who are self-conscious or nervous about (dating), those jokes tend to be harmful. I understand why people make them and generally they can be funny, but with any joke I think there’s a negative aspect.”
She explained those jokes may serve as a sort of social pressure on students to date, but she felt the most pressure she felt was self-inflicted.
“‘Why is everyone else (dating) and I’m not?’” she said. “That kind of thing.”
Senior Courtney Martin offered a slightly different perspective on the pressure to date. She explained that she does not see much pressure on people other than the question of whether a person is dating someone or not.
“That’s just a Christian culture thing,” she said. “I can’t say when I go home that I’m not asked the same question ten times…. The social pressures are no different than Christian culture in general.”
Martin explained her perspective is slightly different because she started her college career at a secular university.
“There, everyone was just (dating) for fun,” she said. She explained she found it odd to move from that environment to one where everyone was focused on meeting “that one person.”
“I don’t know that it is a good thing that we identify by our relationship status or who we are dating, when all of us have God’s calling on our life,” Martin said. “It is an interesting transition (to see) people who are intentionally dating, but then they get so wrapped up in that that we are examining the culture of it. (We start to think) something’s weird here.”
Junior Kate Ray also agreed students can focus too much on dating.
“I’ve heard some of the girls in my section say they just want to find a boyfriend,” she said, “and I think, ‘you are here for academics, dating shouldn’t be your goal in going to school.’ Granted, I’m sure I said the same thing (in the past).”
Smith, who previously served as a Community Assistant and Resident Assistant at LBC, stated she had to have similar conversations with girls in her dorms.
“People who arrive at LBC are excited about the possibilities,” she said, “and they tend to think, ‘I just met a guy and it’s love.’ Let’s have some conversations about identity first because that doesn’t sound healthy.”
She explained that when she served as RA she sat down with the freshman in her section and told them, “No matter what anyone says, you don’t have to date freshman year. Do not date people you meet during Weekend of Welcome (orientation), do not date the RA who leads your group during WOW, do not date a senior.”
She then told the freshman, “‘to be fair, I broke all of those… but it wasn’t because they weren’t true, it just happened that way.’ It can happen to anyone any way. God knows what he’s doing.”
Ray stated the Christian nature of LBC changes relational dynamics.
“LBC has a distinct faith aspect that other colleges don’t have, and most couples here have a sense of responsibility and accountability,” she said. “When you have faith, relationships look a little different…. I think LBC standards help with rules and guidelines about PDA (public displays of affection), and though sometimes it seems annoying they have good intentions.”
Martin encouraged freshman entering LBC not to be discouraged by the pressure to date.
“(I’d encourage) not letting the pressure get to you,” she said. “It doesn’t define who you are in the long run…. I (also) don’t think it is wise to date freshman year. My roommate (Andrea Smith) did, and it worked out well for her… but freshman year so many transitions are happening into adulthood that the added pressure just isn’t wise.”
She added, “It takes people a while to catch on to any place, not just LBC, so be aware that you might have to have tough conversations, clarifying conversations…. (Like) ‘Well, we sat together twice, and you thought we dated, but no, we are just friends.’”
Schwartz said her overall experience of dating at LBC has not been negative.
“From being in a relationship, I’d say (LBC’s dating culture) is more neutral,” she said. “Depending on how you do it, it can be positive or negative…. I’ve had a positive experience…. I’ve seen how it can be negative, but not from personal experience.”
Schwartz added, “I used to hear this advice all the time and I’d get angry … but, honestly, be okay with where you are, your relationship status and in your relationship. That doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to move toward a relationship or further into your relationship, but know there’s a time for everything and most people don’t end up single… Know God is in control, and serve him wherever you are.”
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