New psychology class could offer relationship advice

Courtney Kerrigan

Course defines the ‘hook-up,’ other new relationship terms

“It’s complicated” – that’s the typical and oh-so-familiar phrase that many couples use to describe their relationships, or lack thereof.

But while both men and women search for a solution to the confusing terminology, the psychology department is offering a class in the spring that may provide some answers.

Sex and Romance in the 21st Century centers on the study of different relationships that occur today, said Manfred Van Dulmen, assistant professor and creator of the class.

The class is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 11:15 a.m. in Bowman Hall and is worth three credit hours.

It not only focuses on marital and dating relationships, but also other experiences such as “hooking up” or “friends with benefits.”

“A number of courses at other universities teach around personal relationships and focus more on marital relationships,” Van Dulmen said. “What I wanted to do was have a course that expands beyond that and reflects the sort of broad array of experiences in relationships that people may have right now.”

Van Dulmen said he will discuss psychological theories and ideas that help students understand why people enter into certain relationships, both positive and negative.

“I think it will help students understand relationships that they may have or other people around them may have,” he said.

The class is open to anyone, as it’s not limited to psychology majors or upperclassmen.

He added that students interested in being psychologists or therapists in the future will benefit significantly from the class, as the coursework will help in dealing with relationships.

Students will also look at romantic experiences that may be linked to future romantic relationships, and how these experiences are rooted in past relationships with parents and friends.

“Until maybe 10 years ago, most people thought that adolescent romantic relationships were short lived – that people really saw it as something that happened in movies or novels, but not that it was a real thing with real implications,” Van Dulmen said.

The class stands as a lecture class, but Van Dulmen said there will be some guest speakers, video material from TV and movies and possible discussion with students, although the size of the class may reach 400 students.

“This is a topic I’m very excited about because I study this area,” Van Dulmen said. “I haven’t taught a course like this, and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this.”

Although Van Dulmen admits he has not taught undergraduate students in a few years, he has instructed graduate statistics courses in his six years at Kent State.

“We hope that this will be a course that will get some people excited about psychology or studying relationships.”

Contact features correspondent Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected].