It is hard to argue that dating has not greatly changed over the past several decades. Generally speaking, long gone are the days when a young man courts a lady in her home, having tea with her parents or being chaperoned on a walk (and no holding hands!). Today’s generation lives in an age of technology, freedom, and individuality; whereas, previous generations focused more on personal interactions, reliability (on one another), and marriage (as the end result of dating). In this paper, I will talk about some of the main ways in which dating has changed over the years, including some of the major cultural influences.
According to an article on boundless.org, one major shift in dating is the fact that acts of courtship (and even private acts, such as hugging) use to be mainly conducted in public places (e.g., family porch), but eventually it moved more to public places (e.g., going to movies, dinner, concerts, etc.). This gave couples more freedom and anonymity, away from the control and prying eyes of family members ad the surrounding community (Burzumato, 2007).
Another factor that has influenced the dating scene over the years is the rise in popularity of “public advice” literature on dating (Burzumato, 2007). Psychologists, sociologists, movie stars, and other public figures all of a sudden became authorities on relationships. In contrast, prior to about the 1930s, people oriented themselves according to family traditions and advice from family members. What was an was not “normal” was determined by past generations and local communities, so people were much less likely to be influenced by outside forces.
Dating has also changed a great deal in that it has become much more casual, including what it means for the present and the future. For example, it use to be that sex before marriage was greatly frowned upon, but today it is much more acceptable. In fact, people use terms such terms as “friends with benefits,” casual dating, open relationships, and “booty call” have all become a part of mainstream culture. People are much more open to dating multiple partners, without feeling like they have to commit to any one of them. Dating no longer means (necessarily) that the two individuals want to marry; instead, people think more about enjoying themselves in the moment (versus thinking about the future). A somewhat related issue is the fact that birth control is readily available today, which is something that was much more limited in the past. As a result, women had higher chances of becoming pregnant, which meant that people were more likely to stay together. Today, it is much less “taboo” to be unwed and have children, or to get divorced with children.
Technology has also had a major influence on dating in the recent years. It is not uncommon for people to meet online and even continue their relationships online. In this way, the definition of what a relationship is or what dating is has changed. People remain connected over Skype, text messages, emails, telephone etc. This allows for people to remain much for anonymous and private, which is drastically different from the way people use to date in the past. In the past, when such technology was not available, people would have to communicate in person or maybe via letters, which (at least in my opinion) made the interaction much more personal and “real.” It is much harder to lie or say something mean face to face than it is in a text message or email.