By Emma Whitaker | Reporter
Baylor has long had a reputation of a “ring by spring” culture. Many students push back against this stereotype, and many believe the dating culture is changing dramatically.
“Since dating has become more social media based, I feel like the dating culture is much more casual than it used to be, even within Christian, conservative circles,” San Antonio freshman Donese Cole said.
San Juan sophomore Michael Salazar said he feels the changing culture has inspired people more to put themselves out there.
“I feel comfortable, casual, when going up to meet someone, without it seeming formal at all,” Salazar said.
Yet, some students still feel the ‘ring by spring’ influence of the past. According to College Station junior Grace Wall, she still feels like ‘ring by spring’ exists, even if people aren’t aware of their mindsets.
“I feel like ‘ring by spring’ is still a thing. I don’t date much because I don’t really like the dating I’ve seen at Baylor. I think the “ring by spring” culture produces pressure in a relationship. It’s hard to know if people have the end goal of marriage that I might not be ready for,” Wall said.
Junior Texas A&M student Noah Jeter explains that A&M’s Christian culture has a “ring by spring” mentality similar to that of Baylor’s.
“I have four close friends getting married within a short time period of one another,” Jeter said.
Unlike Baylor however, A&M seems to have its own collegiate dating language, and it begins with the word: “Howdy.”
“Dating in Aggieland in my experience is pretty relaxed. You could just be walking around campus and see someone you find attractive and instead of the awkward conversations or having to think of something crazy creative, you just open the conversation by saying “Howdy,” and if they say howdy back you see where things go. If things are going well you take them to Freebirds or Double Dave’s or something. It’s a very laid back, friendly thing and people are very genuine and nice most of the time. It makes dating and searching for your significant other a lot less intimidating in my opinion,” A&M junior Coby Chambliss said.
Spring sophomore Emma Vollands’s boyfriend attends A&M, so she said she is easily able to compare to two dating cultures.
“I find that at A&M the dating culture is more casual, and there is less pressure when going on a date. At A&M I feel like there are a lot of people that would say they want to get married, but in the future, or down the road, kind of thing,” Vollands said.
Yet, the “ring by spring” ideology travels across state borders and specific school traditions. Tanner Sanderford, a junior at King’s College in New York City, explains that Baylor is not the only school that seems to marry off students young. According to Sanderford, the “ring by spring” phenomenon may be more of a private Christian school normality, than it is a Central Texas, Bible Belt normality.
“There’s a saying in my school that especially applies to outgoing seniors — “ring by spring.” A lot of people who’ve been dating at my school for years will often marry. It may seem like they’re marrying young, but for New York, it’s very pragmatic. Marrying allows students to rent out one-bedroom apartments instead of two,” Sanderford said.
According to University of Texas junior Taryn Cook, even students who were not Christians have been influenced by a Bible Belt culture. According to Cook, many of her friends do not want to live with someone before marriage, simply because they grew up in an area where that was shamed.
“I think dating is definitely just as prized here, as something people strive for, but I think the process of it and what dating looks like might look a lot different than what it might look like at Baylor,” Cook said. “I think ‘talking’ is a big thing down here. People have someone that they’re like hooking up with and talking to, and that happens for a long time before anything is actually serious.”
Cook explains how sometimes the Christian community within a college, Baylor as well, can be different that the overarching collegiate dating culture.
“But within the Christian community, there is a lot of variation in what dating looks like,” Cook said. “Especially since there are variations in when people came to their faith. If they just became a believer in college, then their dating habits that were developed in college kind of come into their dating habits as a believer in college. Whereas people who were believers there whole life or in high school approach dating differently. But I think “ring before spring” is definitely something people more role their eyes at here. I think dating is more casual here, and it’s definitely not viewed as a means to check out someone for marriage, but more of a ‘Oh, I like this person, I like spending time with them,’ and then you definitely don’t have to put a label on it, unless that’s what both parties want.”
According to Austin junior Lena Lee, many Baylor students would prefer a continually more relaxed dating atmosphere, similar to that of University of Texas.
“Many of the Baylor students I have met come from southern, traditional households, so that is the kind of relationship they are looking for. They seem to have expectations for the future like get married after college, have a blue collar job, have a white picket fence,” Lee said.
According to Cook, a student’s perception of their school’s dating culture directly correlates with the groups they are in, and the people they experience within their university. In a large collegiate community, many dating cultures are sure to exist.