In theory, this detachment could allow both parties to walk away unscathed, but in reality it seems to leave students emotionally dulled or depressed about sexual intimacy and romance. Out of 99 students who wrote at length about romance, 64 understood romance as primarily talking: talking for hours upon hours, in a beautiful setting. Any talk of sexual intimacy, even kissing, was virtually absent from their descriptions.
While long-term relationships are still found on campus, students typically admit that they formed after a one-time hookup morphed into a serial hookup, which eventually led to a commitment — even though most wish they had started with at least one sex-free date. When I interviewed students at seven universities, almost all of them said they wished that they could go on an old-fashioned date or that someone would ask them out. I was often tempted to say something like: “I know you think nobody dates here, but they want to. When you leave this interview room, there will be someone else outside waiting to see me. If you think they’re cute, ask them out.”