Loyola speaker discusses dating and hookin’ up
Posted by matthewtgillis on October 17, 2012
By Matt Gillis
Stephanie Atella, health educator at Loyola’s Wellness Center, hosted Hookin’ Up and Gettin’ Some, which was held on the fourth floor of the Richard J. Klarchek Information Commons at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus for a crowd of 30.
Mark Dawson, who works as a motivational speaker about such topics as healthy dating, communication, relationships, sexual assault awareness and education, and leadership, travels to colleges and universities in an effort to empower students with the knowledge, tools, and desire to date safer and become active communicators in their own lives.
Dawson believes that many of the communication problems in intimate relationships stem from the lack of available education about dating.
“We’re all trying to have relationships, but we don’t know how to,” Dawson said. “We’re taking classes on history and literature, but were not learning about how to date.”
Dawson challenged the audience to reevaluate their understanding of dating, which he thinks is based on outdated myths that we do not fully understand.
“The behaviors we engage in when dating made sense hundreds of years ago,” Dawson said. “We make up excuses to make sense of those behaviors in today’s context, but people don’t challenge those myths we’re told. Why should women be taught to be submissive in their dating lives but independent and assertive in every other aspect?”
Dawson thinks that lack of education about relationships leads to sexual violence.
“I believe that a lot of sexual assaults are done by people who don’t know what they’re doing,” Dawson said. “They aren’t taught how to have relationships.”
Dawson also believes miscommunication in relationships comes from today’s lack of face-to-face communication.
“No wonder relationships are so tough,” Dawson said. “We use to live in a world where words meant things, but now it’s hard to understand meaning through texts and abbreviations.”
Dawson discussed the importance of being mindful of the power of communication, whether verbal or nonverbal.
“The words we use at each other are powerful,” Dawson said. “But people believe more of what they see then what they hear. Become more aware of the messages you’re sending through body language and your actions.”
Dawson believes education will give students control over their relationships and foster healthy dating decisions.
“People can choose their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors in a healthy relationship,” Dawson said. “Everyone should have the choice of what happens to their body. It’s called consent.”
Dawson sees sexual assault as neither a women’s issue nor a man’s fault.
“Both genders have to take an active role in strengthening their communication,” Dawson said after the event. “It’s not a man or woman’s responsibility to say no. It’s their responsibility to ask and engage in conversation.”
One student, Erika Vigen, 21, a junior biology major, agreed that communication has a strong impact on relationships.
“Dawson was right when he said that the words we use with each other are powerful,” Vigen said. “With social media, texting, and less and less verbal communication, it makes it easier than ever to misinterpret something. Effective communication is key to maintaining a healthy relationship.”