Dating in the “Modern Age”
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Dating in the “Modern Age”

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

By Dr. Jeff Crowe, Director of Psychological Services

modern datingTwenty-first century dating has introduced a variety of new potential opportunities to meet others through the internet, and our students may be particularly drawn to online dating and social media. Dating is an important developmental experience for our students and it’s important to teach them how to make good decisions in order to effectively and safely navigate in a complex social world.

The explosion of social media and online dating has created a special opportunity for us to be incognito social coaches.  We can use dating scenarios to teach students how to recognize nonverbal cues and read body language, how to present oneself in an honest yet flattering way, and how to follow the unspoken rules of social interaction. We can also help students practice navigating networking sites and communicating socially in this realm of virtual interaction.

Here are a few examples of ways that we can coach some of our students through the process of online dating:

  • We can work with students to create honest yet advantageous profiles for an online dating site. This allows for conversations about how to present oneself in social settings, what topics are appropriate for small talk and how to make personal introductions.
  • We can sit with students as they scan the profiles of potential partners and help them explore and articulate what they are attracted to in others. We can also teach them firsthand to identify red flags and how to steer clear of danger.
  • We can teach students how to make appropriate posts on social media sites, such as Facebook, and the differences between Facebook “friends” they actually know well, and “friends” who are just an unknown name.
  • We can help students craft initial communications to other young men and women. We can catch awkward social communication as it happens and explore what a student was thinking or what prompted them to write in that way. We can also attend to anxiety that arises in social settings, help students recognize and verbalize it, and ultimately work through it.
  • If an online relationship evolves into a face-to-face meeting, we can instruct and support young adults to proceed safely and cautiously, as well as informing students of the very real risks of unsafe dating behavior.

After the initial communication, we conscientiously step back, in order to maintain boundaries and allow students the privacy and independence to navigate their own relationships. We create a safe space to discuss these developmentally-appropriate and pertinent issues. This is a golden opportunity to teach social skills in a way that is applicable and important in our students’ lives.

Newsletter Articles – September 2014

romance and respect

Most of the relationships in our lives are built on shared interests, similar experiences, and, most importantly, mutual respect. Respect is equally as important, if not even more so, in our romantic relationships. I’m sure we’ve all had that one relationship that wasn’t necessarily bad, but still made us feel unfulfilled on some level. Usually, it’s a lack of respect from one or both parties that makes the relationship suffer, which is why it’s important to always remember to have respect in any relationship both for yourself and for the other person.

First Date

That stomach-churning, nerve-inducing, awkward yet exciting day is here. Yes, you are indeed headed out the door for your first date. Here are some tips for your date to run a bit more smoothly, make a great first impression, and find out if you are truly compatible. These tips will keep your date fun, smooth, and memorable.

dating

I see dating like training wheels for a romantic relationship. Once we get comfortable with each other, we can be more serious. When those wheels come off, we will either fall or take off. Getting to know someone in a romantic way helps me to determine if it is a good fit for our personalities. I look for compatibility and good communication skills. It is very similar to hanging out with a friend, but having a romantic twist. There may be flirting, asking about what they want out of life and seeing how much that matches my own life purpose.

different levels of friendship

Young adults in CLE programs have a wide variety of experiences in making friends. For some, past social interactions were limited to being with high school peers during class with little to no socializing after school or on weekends. Other CLE students created and maintained friendships from elementary school, and easily make friends when they come to CLE.

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