Across the nation, at Christian colleges far and wide, you can hear the hum. The hum of a single thought that will end up becoming a kind of dating and flirting flurry that was previously unmatched.
Ring by spring.
As graduation looms ever closer, these young adults are realizing that they may never again in their lives be surrounded by so many eligible single people with similar beliefs. Slowly, excitement turns into infatuation or panic as either they find someone… or they don’t.
There’s a reason that wedding season starts immediately when college semesters usually end and ends as school starts in the fall, right?
We aren’t here to throw shade at people who did this, and hey, if you met your current partner in college, good for you! You largely avoided the tediousness of online dating, and hopefully, found someone who makes you very very happy. Congratulations, we are truly happy for you.
It’s just interesting how different cultures view dating, engagement, and marriage, and this is one tiny subculture with a whole lot of influence. Jokes abound about ring by spring and MRS degrees in religious circles, but outside of that, it’s largely unknown. The secular world doesn’t seem to have a true equivalent, though there is a Hallmark movie from 2014 by the same title with a somewhat different take on the concept.
Different Christian colleges have different takes on this culture, from glorifying it, to saying it’s toxic, to simply using it as the perfect meme material. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s here and isn’t going away any time soon.
So, how does this play out in the real world?
Why people love ring by spring
There are a lot of reasons people aren’t looking to do away with the concept of ring by spring. For one, when it works, it can make some pretty cute stories. Young couple exits college and enters “adulting” together, buffering risks and carrying each other through the storms of life as a 20-something, and 15 years later they can show their kids where they hung out with friends on-campus, the classroom where they met, and pictures of them graduating together.
Many colleges capitalize on this. For example, at the evangelical university I attended, part of the welcome weekend festivities included a speech to new students about how their future spouse was probably in that very room, and to parents about how their future son- or daughter-in-law was probably in that very room.
Still, some people love it, and we all probably know a few couples who got together this way and truly did get a happily ever after.
But… what about when they don’t?
Panic and meat markets
People talk about dating apps being meat markets, but ring by spring creates a very similar type of urgency and wanting to just go out with someone, anyone, who is reasonably attractive and eligible. What started as a joke when students were underclassmen slowly turns to urgency as graduation draws near, and they must leave the relatively safe, limited bubble of young, single Christians.
It gets crazy out there.
Have you ever been hit on with your significant other right next to you? Or literally holding your hand?
It happens, and yes, it is awkward.
I’ve even known girls to start getting hit on with engagement or wedding rings on their fingers.
The expectations surrounding ring by spring can also lead to people who don’t meet their perfect match on the college campus to feel less-than, as though somehow it’s their fault that they didn’t graduate engaged. Even for those who don’t consciously buy into these expectations, it can be easy to get caught up in the flurry of it all.
Suddenly, a relatively harmless expectation can turn toxic. Some people get so desperate they harm platonic relationships that could have otherwise been really helpful. Others end up fearing they will never find love at the ripe old age of 22. Ring by spring makes them feel like they are running out of time, even though they have their whole lives ahead of them.
We are all for people doing what makes them happy, and if you really want to find lasting love in college, go for it… just remember that your life is far from over, non-romantic relationships are important too, and there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t find love at the same time as people around you.