Was Dating Better Then Or Is It Better Now?
20th Century vs. 21st Century
February 20, 2019
Let’s Go Back to 20th Century Dating Culture
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.
Let’s Stay With The 21st Century Dating Scene
In this day and age, it’s become common to find a significant other by scrolling through an app or trying to start a conversation in someone’s direct messages on social media. Because it’s not the romantic dating scene of the 1950s, people believe that meeting a future partners in this way makes it less meaningful. In reality, all history is heavily romanticized and often inaccurate. Committed relationships and serious dating still exist today and are now more open, equal, and unbiased.
In the Baby Boomer Era, teenagers dated because it was enjoyable or because they wanted to get married. Although this seems like a pleasant thought, would you as a teenager in the 21st century want to get married young and be in a completely serious relationship in high school? I would think not, seeing that 2 of 3 high school students enroll in a four year college according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many students want to live on-campus, study abroad and find a stable job before even thinking about marriage. In the meantime, tons of students are so busy that a serious relationship is almost impossible. Relationships today seem feeble, and almost a joke half the time, but with all the pressure on millennials currently, it would be difficult for them to be more than little flings or nonchalant relationships. “How nice it is in 2018 for girls and boys to go un-escorted to dances and proms. I wish things like that were acceptable in my day, I didn’t have a date to prom and never went,” Barbara Romashko, a Baby Boomer said.
Due to millenials lack of time, hookups have become more accepted. How people believe this “hook-up” culture is ruining the importance of dating. However, “hook-ups” have been occurring since the beginning of time. It’s just that now people are a lot more open and careless about it.
The lack of time that keeps single people from finding love and gravitating towards hookups causes them to seek out a convenient way to meet people. This is when social media comes into the picture. Since social media is so commonplace in our society and so many people use it on the daily, it’s second nature for people to rely on it.
It’s common to think that social media is ruining dating culture. To some people, getting to know someone through a screen makes it difficult to truly get to know them as a person. Social media, however, can be a good start because it can allow people to get to know each other a little and connect before they know they want to go out on a first date. Some special examples of social media made to meet people are dating apps, like Tinder and EHarmony. There are some members of society that think dating apps promote scamming and cheating because of how easy it is to connect with people. However, there are many different types of people on these apps. Not all the individuals have bad intentions, and some really do want to find love and serious relationships. The desires to cheat and scam are wants of specific people and can’t be blamed entirely on online-based dating as a whole.
Similarly, gravitating towards hook-ups cannot be blamed on an entire generation. It is up an individual person to make that decision whether they want a serious commitment or not. It is up to us to build strong relationships, and wait for someone with the same values and mindset that wants the same. We can’t blame the wants of a specific group of a singular generation for changing the dating climate.
Despite making causal dating more acceptable, our generation is also responsible for making widely positive aspects of dating more acceptable. Sure, many people want to go back in time and date in the picturesque 1950s. This is a fantasy because looking back on the past centuries and even sixty years ago, dating in the United States was extremely prejudice. People weren’t allowed to date anyone of any other ethnicity or religion. In the “good ol’ days” the LGBTQ+ community was in-hiding or extremely scrutinized by society. If you were a gay man, you were expected to be with women, and had to live your whole life in the closet or be shunned by everyone you knew. If you were women you had to get married and have children, and could hold no career and fulfill personal aspirations. Would you rather date in the open and expecting community today or the prejudiced past centuries?
Chivalry being dead is actually better than it still existing. Our society isn’t concerned with honor anymore and that’s okay. Do we really want to go back to the days when women were considered broken dolls if they slept with someone? A system where men were only kind to women because they were fragile, dumb and inferior to them? Chivalry was just another norm that was completely based on stereotypes, always needing to be tended to. Women are considered strong and independent now. They stand up for themselves and aren’t under the weight of “superior” men like they were years ago in today’s society. The belief of men being so strong and mighty also hurt the relationship. “We have better communication, men are less pressured into keeping emotions bottled up so now we can work through problems instead of having affairs, or leaving someone. I feel like communication is valued more now and easier to achieve when two people truly care for each other,” Samatha Grunden, a junior stated.
We think of men being so kind and gentlemen-like back then, but in reality blatant sexual harassment was common then. Abusive marriages, and even relationships were very real, and people, especially women had to keep their mouths shut about it. Today, with the #metoo movement, people can speak out about their experiences and find help. Women were often blamed for being harassed, for example, the clothes they were wearing were to blame for mens’ obnoxious behavior. According to Yale Law School, “The law assumed that women in fact wanted the sexual advances and assaults that they claimed injured them. Unless women could show that they had performed an elaborate ritual of resistance… protection was further violated by the fact that prosecutors and judges relied on all kinds of race – and classed based assumptions about the ‘promiscuous’ natures of women.” Men, back then were considered “kind” and “respectful,” however, men today are much more reluctant to harass women due to the prosecutions of sexual assault in recent years. Now those who sexually harass others, men and women, are facing the consequences.
Marriage is also considered a waste of time because divorce rates are so high. Divorce rates are high because people don’t have to be stuck in unhealthy and loveless marriages anymore. Many people were stuck, and couldn’t get out of marriages back in the day. Marriage isn’t corrupt now but it’s just easier to get out of.
Would you want to live in a society that gave you a prejudice limit to the people you could date? A society that oppressed women, didn’t stand against abuse, and pressured young people to be married? Yes, social media has a bad reputation, but it has a bad reputation because of the few people hurting others by using it. It’s convenient in the long run. The 21st century is the time where both people in a relationship are considered equal, anyone can love anyone they want to love, and there’s no pressure to be in a relationship if you aren’t ready and want to follow and achieve more important dreams before settling down.