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“I think what’s missing for young adults is the comfort of knowing what comes next,” Cronin says.

“Years ago you didn’t have to think, ‘Do I need to make a sexual decision at the end of this date?

The man who would be my date for the evening was already two drinks in, and he greeted me with an awkward hug. This particular gentleman didn’t turn out to be my soul mate.

Pennacchia was raised Catholic, but she’s not limiting her dating prospects to people within the Catholic faith. “It has shaped how I relate to people and what I want out of relationships, but I’m thinking less about ‘Oh, you’re not Catholic,’ than ‘Oh, you don’t agree with economic justice.’ ” For Pennacchia, finding a partner is not a priority or even a certainty.

“People talk [about love and marriage] in a way that assumes your life will turn out in a certain way,” she says.

’ The community had some social capital, and it allowed you to be comfortable knowing what you would and wouldn’t have to make decisions about.

My mother told me that her biggest worry on a date was what meal she could order so that she still looked pretty eating it.” Today, she says, young adults are bombarded with hyperromantic moments—like viral videos of proposals and over-the-top invitations to the prom—or hypersexualized culture, but there is not much in between.

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