Boston College ‘Dating Project’ Professor Kerry Cronin’s Teaches about True Friendship


Lucy Stefani '21, News Editor

On Friday, March 1st, Dr. Kerry Cronin, a philosophy professor at Boston College, spoke to upper school students and parents about friendship and dating. Students seemed charged up with the relevancy of the topic to real life situations. Abby McAvoy ‘19 said: “The most important part of her speech to me was to have the three conversations with someone this year: I love you, I’m sorry, and thank you. It helped be reflect on the friendships I have and how grateful I am for them as well as how to make myself a better friend to others”.

During the school day, Dr. Cronin spoke to upper school students about friendship. She said that it is so important to learn how to be a good  friend in middle and high school because how we manage future relationships are connected to how we manage the ones we have right now. She spoke about three distinct types of friendships. The first is a friend of utility, or a person you’re friendly with because its convenient to get along. This is a person who does the same activities as you or in the same classes, so you have a casual friendship. The second type is the most common among teanagers and young adults: the friendship of pleasure. This is a person who you enjoy being with. You share each other’s humor and always have a good time together. However, the third and best kind of friendship is the friend of the good. This is a friend who sees all the good, bad, and broken parts of you and loves you still. The friend of the good  puts you above themselves and contributes to making you a better person.

Dr. Cronin says that to find a friend of the good, you have to become a friend of the good. This is challenging because to do this you have to open yourself up to the possibility of getting hurt. Such vulnerability is scary for most people. We need to have courage, which Dr. Cronin clarifies as not the absence of fear, but rather the wisdom of knowing what is worth fearing and what is worth pursuing. The only thing worth fearing, according to Pope Francis, is becoming the kind of person who is incapable of being a good friend. Dr. Cronin left us with a challenge: to try to find at least one or two friends of the good while at Montrose by waking up to the joy and beauty of another person.

During the evening of Dr Cronin’s visit, Montrose parents and students gathered to watch a documentary called The Dating Project, which featured Dr. Cronin’s dating assignment, an assignment she requires of her freshmen at Boston College. They have to ask someone on an “old fashioned” date. The only rules are you have to ask them in person, you can’t use your phone during the date, and the date has to be between 60 and 90 minutes. The goal of the assignment is not to necessarily find true love. It’s more about about making a true connection with someone, face to face. The documentary interviewed students who were participating in the dating project. Most were terrified of the idea of asking someone out, but after doing it, they had a new found confidence in themselves. The best part of the assignment though, was after the date when the students talked as a class about their fears going into it and what they learned from the experience. Opening up to each other in this way helped build foundation of new friendships. Montrose alum and current Boston College junior Molly Cahill ‘16 participated in this dating assignment in her freshman year and she says (molly quote) This inspiring film hopefully opened up a dialogue between mothers and daughters about dating and relationships that will benefit students as they enter college.

Mrs. Dehrendorf, Dean of Students & Director of Student Life, said: “Dr. Cronin’s message to our students aligns perfectly with our mission at Montrose as it emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships with others built on trust, courage, strength and hard work. We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to pair our sponsorship with the Elizabeth Schickel Foundation which supports programs with a very similar emphasis on strong character development.”

Dr. Cronin’s talks inspired and challenged students to seek genuine friendships. When asked what the most important thing she learned from Dr. Cronin was, Anna Sheehan ‘21 said, “You must be the kind of friend you want to have”. It also helped parents talk to their daughters about dating in the modern world, an especially important conversation for students of an all-girls school. Overall Dr. Cronin spoke to everyone’s deep desire for human connection, whether it be through friendship or a romantic relationship.