On a day marked by flowers, chocolate and romantic greeting cards, the Love and Fidelity Network is trying to bring back authentic relationships, especially to college campuses where dating seems to be a thing of the past.

“We’ve heard from students so many times over the years that most people on campus — those engaged in the hookup culture and those who have already chosen to forgo it — simply don’t know how to go on a date,” Caitlin La Ruffa, Love and Fidelity Network executive director, told CNA Feb. 9.

“Instead,” she explained, “romantic relationships on campus tend to take two forms — anonymous hookups where attachment, communication, or care are against the ‘rules’ or co-dependent serially monogamous pairings where ‘the relationship’ is defined long before suitability of the partnership has been assessed.”

“Going on casual dates — which allow a person to express an appropriate level of interest and to begin getting to know another person and opening themselves up to be known — runs radically counter to both of those trends.”

Spanning from coast to coast, the Bring Dating Back campaign is being hosted at 36 college campuses this week leading up to Valentine’s Day, including several Ivy League schools such as Yale, Harvard, Brown, Princeton, and Columbia. That number grew from some 30 campuses participating last year.

“We wanted to build off the success of last year’s campaign and give students practical tips on how to navigate romance on campus without having to participate in a ‘hook-up culture’ that is increasingly being understood as what it is — unfulfilling, dehumanizing, and, frankly, less fun,” La Ruffa said.

The Bring Dating Back campaign is being run by the Love and Fidelity Network, a national program aimed towards teaching college students about the integrity of human sexuality, the importance of marriage, and the special role of the family in society.

On participating campuses, student groups are hosting special events leading up to Feb. 14, all dedicated to teaching students how to date casually instead of just “hooking up.”

Some campuses are screening classic romance films, hosting speakers, or holding workshops all while canvassing their campuses with posters in both English and Spanish offering students light-hearted advice on how to bring back dating.

“This year our focus with the posters is a message of encouragement aimed at assuaging some common sources of anxiety around dating — that it’s way too complicated, or it’s going to be awkward, or it’s ultra old-fashioned or just plain scary,” La Ruffa said.

One of the posters features a Victorian-esque couple exchanging greetings while a nosey bystander gasps in disbelief with a caption that reads, “It’s not that old-fashioned.” Below we see the modern-day alternative with a guy and girl sharing some frozen yogurt with a dating “pro-tip” to “Keep it casual. Think fro-yo, not filet mignon.”

The group compiled a full list of tips with advice from how to ask someone out (“Relax. They’re human too”) to how to treat a date well (“Don’t expect to spend the night”) to how to have a great time (“It’s just a date. Have fun”).

At University of Pennsylvania, recent Harvard grad Rachel Wagley, a Love and Fidelity Network alumna, will give a talk on dating. The Providence College Ambrose Society is hosting a student-led discussion about what love really means. Some students at Brown University are hosting a screening of the Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck classic, “Roman Holiday.”

The Love and Fidelity Network began in 2007 in Princeton, N.J. to challenge the poor treatment of sexuality, marriage, and family on college campuses. The group now boasts a presence on 38 campuses.  

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