Let’s Go Back to 20th Century Dating Culture

Emilia Caney, Opinions Editor

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Once upon a time, a girl would be asked out in person on a date. If she said yes, and her dad consented, the two would pick a public spot for the date, such as the movies, dinner, or the mall. The girl would obsess over the date until the day arrived, not knowing what to wear. She’d be nervous and ask her friends for advice. Finally, the day would come. Her date would pick her up and even open the car door for her. They would go out. It would be awkward at first, neither of them really knowing what to do, but soon they’d get more and more comfortable. Eventually, they’d be smiling and making each other laugh until their stomachs hurt. They may subtly touch hands and share a heartfelt look. Then, her date would bring her back home, open the car door for her once again, and walk her to the door. They would hug and say goodbye, standing there for a few seconds, waiting to see if one of them would make the first move, and then it would happen. The first kiss. Butterflies would spill into her belly. The kiss would end and her date would depart almost hesitantly. She’d linger on her doorstep beaming. She would head inside, flop down on her bed, and lay there, reliving the whole date. Once she would come back around, she’d scream into her pillow and call her best friend, giving her all the details. The end. Now, here we are in 2018, where 90% of the events in this story are just a legend and are rarely seen except for in John Hughes movies from the 80’s or some sappy Netflix original movie that makes your heart melt.

Before cell phones and Social Media, dating was just that. Dating. There was no “sliding into DMs” or up on their story. There was no swiping left or right. There was romance. There was going on real dates. There was building something with someone you’re interested in. There was creating a connection not just based on looks and common interests, but their personality, and that spark and those butterflies you feel around them. While this still exists today, it’s so very rare. We’ve entered the Hook Up Era, where finding someone that wants a meaningful connection seems bleak. Dating doesn’t really even exist anymore.

The road leading to “dating” has changed so much. It starts by “hitting someone up” on some social media platform. Most commonly, you talk for a few weeks (even days), and you’re almost immediately flirting (if you think they’re “hot”, of course). Rarely is a friendship built first to help you see if the person is someone you really want to be with. Plus, you’re probably only talking to this person for their looks, not what you truly know about them. This can lead to the compliments. For most guys, their idea of complimenting a girl is calling her “hot” and “thick” and other grotesque words. It’s rare now to find a guy who calls a girl “beautiful” or compliments her eyes or smile. It’s all about how someone looks, not about what’s on the inside. But likewise with girls, many look for muscles and abs, not respect and brains. Above all else, you never know for sure if that person is talking to just you. Talking or dating, or whatever you choose to call it, is so superficial in this day and age, and this leads to so many people becoming insecure and getting hurt if someone doesn’t want to talk to them.

Another reason that the aspect of dating has dissolved is that many lack respect. No one cares about how anyone feels anymore; it’s all about me, myself, and I. For that reason, people are primarily concerned with their wants, causing cheating to be a common occurrence and loyalty to be a diamond in the rough. We have generations of people wanting what they don’t have and being unhappy with what they do. People constantly getting “played” and manipulated for one’s personal gain. Getting cheated on can damage someone’s emotional and mental state and completely ruin their next relationship. It can create trust issues, and even commitment issues. Being “ghosted” (when someone you’re interested in suddenly stops talking to you for seemingly no reason) can also really break and hurt a person. Just as everyone being so superficial can lead to insecurity and getting hurt, being cheated on or ghosted can lead to the same place. It can leave you wondering why you weren’t enough for that person. What did you do wrong? What could you have done differently?

The lack of respect, lack of commitment and the emotional baggage we carry as a result has led us to a new time. It has opened the doors for the Hook Up Era consisting of one night stands, friends with benefits, and broken hearts. In the 21st century, no matter the age, it’s so hard to find someone who actually wants something serious. Whether it’s due to being cheated on, hurt too bad (maybe numerous times), or just preferring to have someone new every other week, people just want to hook up with no strings attached and no feelings. Although, in many of these situations, people end up “catching feelings” and this leads to the cycle of heartbreak and trying to heal. The rise of online dating and dating apps haven’t helped this problem; apps like this make it easy for people to lie about who they are, what they look like, or what their intentions are (which allowed the creation of Catfish: The TV Show on MTV). While sometimes dating apps can lead to true love, a majority of the time, it just leads to confusion, trust issues, and heartbreak.

Although this new Hook Up Era has made it difficult for many hopeless romantics to stay positive and “love love”, love still exists and always will. That “Once Upon a Time” story still happens. Not all boys have bad intentions. Not all girls are superficial. Some people, especially in high school, don’t know or understand what needs to happen in order to begin a relationship and keep it going and strong. Remember, if you lose feelings for someone, instead of cheating, break up with them. It’ll be hard at first, but it’s better than destroying the person. If you truly like someone, don’t try to make them jealous, just be honest with them. Honesty and loyalty are two of the most important parts of a relationship. The best advice though? If you truly want to find love eventually and stay happy? Don’t give up just because someone hurt you in high school. High school will mean nothing and it will be over in four years. In the real world, there are still people who are looking for love and are willing to open up to you and make you happy. Yes, it can be more difficult to find your happy ever after, but when you do, it’ll be worth it.