TODAY   |  April 04, 2013

Is traditional dating dead?

The traditional, one-on-one dinner date is long gone for most young adults today. From texting to group outings, casual is the name of the game. Psychiatrist Ish Major and author Donna Freitas talk about navigating this new relationship landscape.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning on "today's" relationship. couples connecting in new ways. as we mentioned a new minutes ago, the cdc says young women are waiting longer to get married or living with their partners first. turns out, these days casual is the name of the game . the pick you up at 8:00 date is long gone. so is dating dead?

>> from glee --

>> i don't know what's going to happen in the future, i know i want to be with you now.

>> i want someone who wants to hang out all the time and thinks i'm the best person in the world and wants to have sex with only me.

>> reporter: dating is a far cry from what it used to be.

>> nowadays, people want to hang out and everything is a lot more casual.

>> a new generation, coming of age with fewer rules.

>> dating as we're supposed to know it is essentially dead so that actually we're living in a post dating world where the old rules and guidelines no longer apply.

>> the post dating world is what we call our modern era . now there's a million ways for that guy to get to know you better without asking you on a date.

>> reporter: dates are out and group hangouts are in. to get to know one another, many embrace social media .

>> people also falling for each other over technology. so everything from texting and instagram to gchat and e-mail.

>> and as many delay marriage, exp ear experts say there's less drive to couple up early.

>> traditional dating was the beginning of looking for a husband and wife. if people aren't going to get married until their late 20s, what are they going to do dating early on? it's going to set up things they really don't want to have happen for a while. they want to get their life going before they quote, unquote settle down.

>> you need to forget all the rules you know. forget what it means when he does xy and z and trust it's going to go in the right place.

>> donna is the author of "the end of sex." and the relationship expert, good morning to you both.

>> good morning.

>> i have to start with you, with a book title like that, you get the first question. young people , confused about intimacy, unhappy. explain first what exactly is hook-up culture?

>> well, it's -- let me differentiate between a hook-up. people tend to think of a hook-up as this very liberating thing. it's a brief sexually intimate encounter. anything from kissing to sex as most students will say. but a culture of hooking up is where the hook-up becomes the norm. to the point where young people don't see any other option.

>> but there are people out there, young people who want the old dating culture. what happens to them?

>> well, i wouldn't say they want the old dating culture.

>> more traditional.

>> they want the option to date in a pretty old school way. so most of the students i talked to say that they like having the option to hook up, but they wish it wasn't their only option. and the reason why they don't date even though they really wish they could is because they don't have the skills. and they feel like no one else wants to.

>> let me bring you in on this, is hook-up culture a bad thing? is it damaging? or is it just the next thing in relationships?

>> you know, it's potentially damaging. i think you're right, it's the natural evolution of things. the culture changes and it could be potentially damaging because people aren't ready for the disconnect that comes with that instant emotion. okay. and whether it be a feeling of rejection or not unfulfilled, there's surprise on the back end where this is going to be a quick fun thing. but wow, now i feel bad.

>> true, though, people are getting married later in life now. could this just be that phase in life that fills the space for some people?

>> i think so. it's a natural progression of things. but, however, if that's not your natural progression how you want it, you can opt out.

>> how would that work? how does someone opt out of hook-up culture? you say the people who do have trouble getting out or finding that alternative. how should they go about that if they don't want that lifestyle?

>> well, i think that's the million dollar question in a lot of ways. what's amazing is that you have so many young people who are saying they don't like living in hook-up culture and they wish for a way out but they can't see that way out. and they also believe they're the only one that feels that way. and so one of the first things i usually tell them is you are so not the only one that feels that way. all of your peers feel that way but they're afraid to say something too. know you're in good company. know if you go and ask someone out, they're probably going to be excited about it.

>> you have some good tips for people who want to build a healthy relationship. you say they should set boundaries, be selfish, and establish transparency. what do you mean there?

>> absolutely. sharer beware. this is an age of instant information. everyone's got tons of access to you. it's not dependent on the amount of likes or re-tweets you get. set those boundaries, be selfish. if you want somebody to love you and only you, that's totally okay. if you want to do the hook-up thing, that's okay too. know what you're getting into. and be transparent. tell the person, hey, i know this is nuts, i know it's overwhelming. if you're not into it, it's totally okay. now you've set the stage.

>> donna, very quickly. you say you're hopeful despite everything we've just said. why?

>> well, i am. because when i talk to students and young people about this topic, i see so much yearning and so much launch for love and something other. and so, you know, just what, you know it's just said about how young people need to think about what do i want and how can i go about getting it? and remember the fact they do have a choice and they can make choices on their own. they don't have to go along with what they see is what everyone's doing.

>> we appreciate your advice and input on this. good to see you both.