“The Dating Project” Documentary Offers Hope for Catholic Singles

It’s not exactly a secret that many singles are not happy with the way their dating lives work. Depending on what season of life you’re in, there are many different reasons for this discontent.

Yet, even among singles of different age groups and walks of life, there is a lot of common ground when we look at why dating is so hard in our day and age. The new documentary The Dating Project from MPower Pictures, and Catholic and Christian production companies Paulist Productions, Family Theater Productions, and Pure Flix Entertainment, explores these common pitfalls.

I’m not usually a big fan of documentaries myself. Typically, if I want to learn something factual on a subject, I’m all for a little research and reading. I prefer to save my viewing time for something a little more entertaining. But I was pleasantly surprised to find this film engaging and interesting as it explored its factual subject matter of modern dating issues.

It begins with a challenge

It begins with a challenge

The film begins at Boston College. In a lecture, philosophy professor Dr. Kerry Cronin speaks to her freshman class about the “hookup culture”. Young single people (especially on college campuses) are more apt to make out and even have sex with virtual strangers in a party setting than they are to go on an actual date.

Both in her classroom and to the camera, Dr. Cronin discusses the vagueness of this term “hookup” and its results for our modern dating relationships.

Dr. Cronin is famous on the campus of Boston College bcause she assigns her students a dating project. They are to ask someone out on an actual, real date. She sets down parameters for the date’s casualness and to make sure real “get-to-know-you” conversation happens. Then, she sets them loose to go do it.

I’d heard that the challenge was a part of the film’s contents before I watched it, so I wasn’t too surprised. What did surprise me though was the studen’ts reaction to the dating project.

The film focuses on two particular students in Dr. Cronin’s class. Throughout the documentary, filmakers explore how foreign the concept of traditional dating has become among people of this age group.

I had no idea that our society had gotten to this point where young singles don’t even go on actual dates anymore. It can be tempting to think that the problems with the hookup culture don’t extend to those who’ve made it past college graduation. But this film looks at the problems that our society’s views on romance can cause for those of other demographics as well.

The single life beyond college

The single life beyond college

The documentary only spends part of the time examining Dr. Cronin’s dating project on campus. It also follows three other single people in various stages of life: a 20-something woman, and 31-year-old woman, and a 40-year-old man.

Interviews and discussions with these people offer a look at the pitfalls that keep singles from dating. Past hurts, lack of hope for finding someone decent, and patterns of irresponsibility have led them to their current unfulfilling life.

The woman in her twenties talks about her frustrations with finding someone. She speaks about her past bad experiences that color her expectations now. Mentioning conversations with her girlfriends, she emphasizes how common pornography use is among men. The reality of many men’s pornography addiction leaves her with a low hope (or interest!) in finding a man who practices chastity.

The 31-year-old woman often works 70-hour weeks. Though she attends a church, she feels the lack of relationships and fellowship in her life. She talks about her past falls into bad relationship patterns and the difficulty of finding a man who isn’t only after premarital sex.

Read more: 3 Reasons Why Single Catholics Should Be Involved in Their Parish

Finally, the filmakers shine a light into the life of a man in his 40s. His experience as a commercial actor often shows itself in his light and humorous manner. He talks about his own struggles to be the kind of mature and responsible man who could ever be a good husband. This man also shares about how he has self-sabotaged his relationships in the past.

After discussing romance in the lives of these three singles, the film offers some insight into just how these problems and discontents arise. Filmakers give some suggestions for how the whole situation of a modern single can be improved.

Hope for the future

Hope for the future

The stories in this film are not at all just doom and gloom! Despite the focus on the difficulty there is in finding a good mate. 

In the case of the three post-college people, the film checks back on in them at various points in their journey. Viewers see their outlook improving as they start to work on the trouble areas they’ve identified in their love lives.

The college kids with the dating assignment begin to see the wonder of actual dating as they carry out their assignments.

Personally, one of the most poignant parts of the film was an interview with the 40-year-old’s elderly mother. She reminisced about the romance and love of days past, when her late husband swept her off her feet.

We can’t go back to what was good of dating in the past. However, The Dating Project’s honest look at where we are today offers some valuable insight into just how we might set about remedying the problems today’s singles often face.