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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dating at Dartmouth: Polling on Love at the Big Green

The Dartmouth polled students on their views of romantic relationships and dating culture on campus.


Polling all undergraduates, The Dartmouth asked the student body about their current relationship status, views on the D-Plan and how it impacts relationships, flitz habits, use of the matchmaking algorithm Marriage Pact and feelings about Valentine’s Day, among other topics. The following four sections detail survey participants’ responses. 

Section I: Relationship Status

All students were first asked about their romantic relationship status and perceptions of others’ relationships. A majority of respondents, 57%, identified themselves as single, whereas 28% reported being in an exclusive relationship. The other two options, ‘It’s complicated’ and ‘Hooking up,’ each applied to 7% of the student body. As a whole, the vast majority of the student population reported being single, with nearly twice the amount of single students as those in a relationship. 

When asked what relationship status they have identified with for the longest time at Dartmouth, 19% of participants replied ‘hooking up.’ Comparatively, 25% of respondents answered that they have identified as being in a relationship for the longest time, and 56% of students replied that they have been single for the majority of their time at Dartmouth. 

Survey participants were also asked what type of relationships they viewed to be most prevalent on the Dartmouth campus. The majority of participants, 59%, responded that hookups appear to be most prevalent, while only 11% of respondents said relationships seem most prevalent. An additional 30% viewed hookups and relationships as being equally prevalent on campus. This highlights a discrepancy between the actual and perceived relationship culture at Dartmouth: Many view hookup culture as the norm, while in reality it only applies to a small portion of the population. 

When asked whether the D-Plan negatively impacted their romantic relationships, a majority of the student body (52%) agreed that their relationships were affected, while 13% of students disagreed. The other 35% were ambivalent. 

Students were then asked about their experience either sending or receiving a ‘flitz,’ a term that refers to a flirty email sent by Dartmouth students to someone of romantic interest. Flitzes sent to romantic partners were more prevalent than those sent to acquaintances or strangers: In 34% of responses, participants said they had sent a flitz to a person with whom they were romantically involved, while only 27% of responses indicated having sent a flitz to an acquaintance or stranger. 30% of respondents said they had never sent or received a flitz. 

Section II: Relationship Status by Sexual Orientation

Next, what does the data reveal regarding the dating scene at Dartmouth for LGBTQ+ students? 

Subtle differences exist between straight and LGBTQ+ students in regard to their relationship status. For single students and those in relationships, the difference across sexual orientations was negligible. 59% of straight respondents reported being single, compared to 55% of LGBTQ+ respondents. In addition, 31% of straight respondents reported being in a relationship, compared to 25% of LGBTQ+ respondents. However, nearly twice — 9% to 6% — as many LGBTQ+ students reported their current relationship status as complicated, and almost three times as many — 11% to 4% — reported their status as hooking up. Although the magnitude of these gaps is not large in percentage points, it is large proportionally. Given the relatively small size of the hookup population at Dartmouth, these data may be indicative of differences in dating culture across sexual orientations.

When it comes to perceived relationship status prevalence, the story is similar: The majority of straight (61%) and LGBTQ+ (57%) respondents viewed hooking up as the precedent at Dartmouth. However, while LGBTQ+ students report hooking up almost three times as much, straight respondents viewed hookup culture as more prevalent overall. The next section will talk about the results of the matchmaking survey Marriage Pact for students regardless of sexual orientation.

Section III: Marriage Pact

Last month, over two thousand Dartmouth students signed up for Marriage Pact, an anonymous matchmaking service used by colleges across the country. After filling out 50 questions on each user’s demographics, plans for the future, preferred values in a partner and more, Dartmouth Marriage Pact’s algorithm held the promise of making the most compatible pairs possible, according to The Dartmouth’s past coverage. When students were surveyed, however, it appeared the algorithm was far less successful than anticipated.

The initial popularity of Marriage Pact at Dartmouth was clear: Only 30% of survey participants did not participate. As for the remaining 70% of respondents who participated in Marriage Pact, 27% of them knew their match, while 43% were matched with a stranger. 

When it came to actually meeting up with their match, 50% of users did not contact or respond to a message from their match. Of the remaining 50% of respondents who did contact their matches, nearly half of them met in person. The prevalence of “ghosting” was low: Only 6% of survey participants reported contacting their match but received no response in return.

Of the students who participated in Marriage Pact, only 16% were satisfied with their match. 34% reported being “somewhat satisfied” with their partner, while the majority of participants (roughly 51%) were dissatisfied with their match. Despite these somewhat discouraging numbers, only 6% of respondents answered that they were unwilling to use Marriage Pact again. 

Section IV: Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, survey respondents leaned into the holiday more than not. The majority of respondents, 56%, indicated that they had some plans. Of those with some plans, 52% (29% overall) report plans with their friends, 46% (26% overall) report plans with a significant other, and 1.3% (0.7% overall) report plans with a hookup partner.

However, when asked to what extent they generally enjoyed Valentine’s Day, the plurality of the student body (38%) reported ambivalence. 33% of students agreed that they enjoyed the holiday, while 29% disagreed. 

To all who are celebrating, congratulations. To those who are not but wish they could, The Dartmouth wishes you the best of luck this coming spring.

Methodology Notes:

From Thursday, Jan. 25 to Sunday, Feb. 4, The Dartmouth fielded an online survey of Dartmouth students on their opinions and experiences with relationship culture at Dartmouth. The survey was sent out to 4,447 undergraduate students through their school email addresses. 391 responses were recorded, resulting in an 8.8% response rate. Using administrative data from the College’s Office of Institutional Research, responses were weighted by class year, gender and race/ethnicity. Weighting was done through iterative post-stratification (raking). Survey results have a margin of error ± 5.0 percentage points.