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Dating up a storm: BYU coeds more busy with pastime than most, study finds

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27 2008 12:11 a.m. MST

Students Marie Sykes and Darren Jaeckel chat at BYU. Students interviewed said church leaders encourage them to date - and so they do.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

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PROVO — Students at Brigham Young University are dating more than young men and women at other colleges but are also refraining from sex, according to a study.

There is, however, a whole lot of kissing going on at BYU, said students interviewed in the Cougar Eat in the Wilkinson Student Center.

"There are people making out all the time in the dorm lobby," said Alayna Angelos, 19, of Boca Raton, Fla., a freshman majoring in communications.

BYU students have as many dates in a month as do women in four years at a mainstream college, says now-retired BYU professor Bruce Chadwick. He taught sociology at the university for 35 years and did a survey on dating and marriage at BYU.

According to a national study previous to Chadwick's survey, students at other colleges have pretty much ceased dating and are simply hanging out and "hooking up," which can be anything from kissing to having sex — all with no commitment.

At BYU, students hang out but opt for a "NCMO session" as opposed to a "hook-up." NCMO stands for "non-committal make-out" and is simply kissing someone, then saying adios, students say.

"It's a church member's way of doing a 'one-night stand,"' said Andre Abamonte, 21, of Atlanta, Ga., a sophomore majoring in psychology. He added he has never personally participated in a NCMO.

Chrissy Barnes, 20, of Spokane, Wash., a senior majoring in political science, said most people she knows at BYU have done a NCMO at least once or twice.

Dane Erickson, 18, of Dallas, Texas, a freshman taking general classes, said, "It is going on at BYU. I'm not one to judge though."

The survey revealed BYU students hold marriage to be extremely important and see the dating process as the road to that goal, while refraining from high levels of physical intimacy.

"Parents who send their kids to BYU ought to be relieved," Chadwick said.

While 60 percent to 70 percent of unmarried college students say they have had sex, at BYU the percentage is 3 percent to 4 percent, he said.

Dating is a huge pastime at BYU, whether it be formal dates, group dates or simply hanging out in groups.

The survey states that at BYU, 23 percent of the men and 19 percent of the women claimed having five or more dates per month. Thirty-five percent of the men and 27 percent of the women had at least one date a week.

"I've certainly gone on more dates than my friends at other colleges," said Jake Corkin, 18, of Denver, Colo., a freshman majoring in business. He says he goes on about three dates a month.

Some BYU students interviewed said they got burned out on dating. "And dating before your mission is wasting money on someone else's wife," Erickson said, quoting a friend's FaceBook page.

The students interviewed said church leaders encourage them to date — and so they are.

Abamonte said his mission president encouraged the returned missionaries to get married as soon as possible "because he didn't want us breaking the law of chastity."

But Abamonte said he hasn't had a date since he returned from his mission two months ago. "Getting married is a big responsibility," he said, adding he plans to graduate before finding a spouse.

Chadwick said more BYU students are following the national trend and delaying marriage until after college.

"The tragedy of that is the lost opportunity," Chadwick said. "There are 15,000 members of the opposite sex at BYU who embody all the traits you have on your list."

If the graduate moves to an area that doesn't have a high number of LDS people, "the pickings are a whole lot slimmer," Chadwick said.

BYU students list religiosity/spirituality as the No. 1 trait desired in a spouse, while most college students put that at the very bottom of their list.

Chadwick's study can be found in the December issue of BYU Studies, Vol. 46, No. 3. For information, go to http: byustudies.byu.edu/.


E-mail: astewart@desnews.com

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