Is Courtship Dead? And If It Is, Is That Really Such A Bad Thing?

January 22, 2013  |  

According to the New York Times, dating is now dead. R.I.P dinner and a movie:

Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.”

The Times piece then goes on to say that non-committal activities like ‘hanging out,” have replaced actual dates and courtship. According to the article, dodgy economic prospects, which makes it impossible to afford dates; changing economic dynamics between the genders; online dating including texting, emailing and social networking and the rise of the “hookup culture” are to blame for the disappearance of dating. To illustrate the demise, the Times article uses the anecdotal story of a Shani Silver, a young woman from Philadelphia, who was supposed to go on a date with a guy she met on OkCupid, but turned him down when, on the night of the date, he sent her a text message, suggesting that they met up at a local Pub where he was already having drinks with his friends.

Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”

I think that Silver was right to reevaluate her expectations from this “date.” There is no doubt that dating has changed over the time. But so what? Flowers, a classy dinner of poorly seasoned crab legs and cheddar bay biscuits at Red Lobster, the latest action movie you had no desire see but your date really wants to see it so whatever – while traditional of courtship – wasn’t all that fantastic as The New York Times has waxed nostalgic it to be. Personally, I’ve hated dating in the traditional sense of the word. For me, it always felt like being on job interview where the lady with the navy blue suit and a notepad, sits behind the faux-wood finish desk and in her polite, yet almost deceptive tone asks you probing questions like: where do you see yourself in ten years? and describe your strengths and weakness and can you explain this gap in employment?

And then you, in your equally uncomfortable outfit, which you would wear outside of this interview, have to somehow come up with answers that are some version of the truth but also paint you in what you think is a favorable light. I have done that many of times – in both interviews and on dates. The older I get, the more life gets hectic, the harder the hustle gets and I am more filled with “things to do.” This means that my time is extremely valuable. Therefore, when I go out, I’m going out to have a good time – not to determine if a good time is to be had. So yeah, I like having my “friends.”

And that brings me to a larger point about this fear of change, even when the traditional wasn’t necessarily great to begin with. Back in the day, it was socially frowned upon for a woman to date multiple suitors at one time or even have a sexual relationship outside of marriage. Today, women are encouraged not to settle, to sample what’s out there and cultivate relationships around their likes and desires before jumping into a relationship. And that’s not  even mentioning the power imbalance, which used to accompany traditional courtship. Do you know how incredibility and advisably unsafe some of the courtship rules of old were? While it may be proper for a man to abide by the old fashion way and pick you up for a date, it certainly isn’t advisable in this day and age. So, in that sense, modern dating has become more empowering and meaningful for women than ever before.

Also there is something to be said for the way in which technology has made our traditional dating rituals more inclusive. While it may seem unlikely for lots of folks to think of finding love and connecting with people behind a the keypads on a computer or smartphone, some people, who might be shy or awkward socially, will often use technology to engage potential partners comfortably in ways they could not physically do publicly. Of course, there is always a chance of running into a few catfishes in the virtual world however it sure beats running into a few turds in real life.

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  • heyheynow

    I am not a fan of new dating rules….guys these days want to hang out at the house first or some crap like that to see if you deserve a date….wtf? this whole friends first mentality is just straight laziness Guys don’t want to pursue anymore they don’t want to impress…hell buy a groupon or a living social deal I don’t mind at all but please take me out on a date. Our first date should not be you coming over to kick it we can save that for date 4 or 5…hell coffee is even acceptable but this texting crap nawwww

  • Wizdom

    two things. 1 I’m so glad im married a wonderful man and don’t have to put you with this worthless orgie scene cesspool called dating! YIKES! no courtship? I don’t think so. but it’s not surprising looking at the sex and moral less driven society we live in.

    2 nd thing. Thank God Im a Muslim. Courtship is non- negotiable in our faith. for those who are practicing. And there’s no sex before marriage sparring everyone too much heart ache, babymama drama and death threats.

    I pray for all the good people in our society to find other good people to share their lives with cause this is some scary ish. Allah must be very patient with us…

  • Stanley Dada

    I knew this was coming from somewhere.

  • Candacey Doris

    If he would rather text or FB chat instead of meet up with me and go DO things then he’s not the one for me. Call me crazy but i like interaction. It doesn’t have to be formal, but i’m not going to spend my time hanging out with him and his boys all the time. He wouldn’t want to hang out with my friends always, right? Ok.

  • Senait Ashenafi

    Dating been dead and gone. I haven’t been on one in years. I’m not feeling the modern dating scheme so dating is so over for me. Smh.

  • hollyw

    I just recently became exclusive with someone I actually met on OkCupid and I will openly admit that after a year of online dating, the only reason I found mild success was because I stopped being so casual. Yes, the dating arena is undoubtedly changing. However, women’s standards shouldn’t. Ive been told this foremost by men. Don’t let the “meet ups” get ya! There’s changing in social norms, then there’s human nature.

  • pickneychile

    It may be dead for some people, but my husband courted the mess out of me. He did stuff that I thought only my parents generation and those before would have done. We are still dating to this day and I don’t particularly care how outdated or old school we may seem.

  • I definitely feel that the romance and courtship has gone out of relationships, and that it’s not a good thing. A large part of the problem is that to a degree, we as people (and especially women) have been socialized to not expect much from each other in relationships, or to put up with certain behaviors that are problematic (or just plain annoying) and accept them as “normal”, because that’s just the way that things are now. Yes, things have changed drastically since the dating days of yore. Change can be a good thing, and no one denies that some aspects of the courtship ritual were not always beneficial. But there is something about the courtship ritual that cannot be replaced by texting, Instagramming, or Facebook interactions. A guy who checks his phone every five to ten minutes is a major turn-off for me, as is one who invites me out to every event by means of a text (unless that’s just how our relationship is, but I even prefer my friends to call me). I like actually going out on a date, seeing the way that people interact with those around them, noticing their vocal patterns, mannerisms, etc. The decline in actual human interaction accounts for why so many people today don’t always know how to behave on a date, or even in social settings with other people. I prefer a guy who actually wants to go out on dates to different places, and wants to get to know me. I do not want to tell my kids that Daddy proposed to Mommy via text message and that she accepted it. Just sayin’.

    • chanela

      it’s so funny how people will put up with the silliest things when it comes to “hook ups” but they’ll get a divorce in a SECOND over snoring,a small argument, wife gaining 4lbs. smh

  • Tia

    This article is wack! What REAL person wants to be in a relationship where there’s no real connection? I thank God for sending me an awesome man who believes in dates and truly getting to know the person he’s dating. He calls just to hear my voice! Thank goodness he doesn’t believe this mess!

  • JustSayin

    I laugh… because the same women that don’t value dating and getting to know one another are the same exact women I run into that complain about not having a man, being undervalued, disrespected or give it up to quick. The courting is a step… times have change and the way courting is done has changed but there is no better form of communication than verbal and in person. Because; words only hold 40% of the power. So; I am laughing… because these women that go for facebook admiration and the amount of instagram likes will be positing some negative, “I hate him so much right now” message soon enough. And; I will be laughing at that too!

  • York

    BOOOOO to the New York Times for writing that drivel! It was either written by a woman with low standards or a lazy man!

    Ladies, stop letting men use the economy as a reason for not treating you appropriately! Either he learns how to play the game and gets the coinage for it or he needs to sit his hindparts on the sidelines until he figures out how to get his money up! Ain’t no kid standing in front of a 75 cent video game putting in 50 cents and expecting the machine to take pity on him, so why do we give so many passes??

  • Blackhawk

    I think the new era dating game benefits men more, than women. I never met a woman who doesn’t want to be wined and dined, which is cool but the only problem with that.. women today will let a guy wine and dine her and she’s not even into him. No man wants to take an L on his wallet like that no matter how deep his pockets are, so the hook up culture minimizes our risk. Also some single men like me date multiple women at a time, so it definitely benefits me. The old way of dating benefited women more than men.. thus the complaints from women today.

    • Nikki

      Not all women want to be wined and dined. Granted, I am young, but I never allowed anyone to wine and dine me because my grandmother taught me that men expect things when they do things like that. Whenever I went out on dates, I paid for my food and he would pay for his until we decided on if we were going to be exclusive or not. My husband is the ONLY guy that has spent money on me while we were out. Now, I have gotten Valentine’s day, birthday and “just because” gifts before, but that was their choice.

      • Blackhawk

        Nikki I respect that.. with me its not even about paying for a date because i don’t think that i ever not picked up the tab on a date. And your husband should spend money on you and make you feel special because ur his wife. Its just funny to me that some women expect the same treatment when we just met.. i’m like i don’t even know u. I’m not doing all that and u are not even my girl. When a girl tell me a man needs to do xyz just to talk and get to kno each other, i just tell her it was nice to meet u, but its not going to work.

        • Nikki

          Lol Well, that’s what I mean. I was just using meals as an example. When I was just dating someone, I was just getting to know them, so I didn’t want them to pay for anything. That way, if we didn’t hit it off, he didn’t feel like he wasted his money. I have 4 older brothers, so I would listen to them talk about how they felt after taking a girl out on a few dates and ended up not even liking her. But you are right, I read some story about a girl that would go out with guys for meals. She had a meal plan or something and she didn’t have to buy lunch or dinner for a while lol

          • Blackhawk

            U were smart to learn from men that you could trust that would keep it 100% with u. Girls like u definitely stand out from the rest, especially if ur attractive, dudes be like i’m not playing around with this one.

      • Miyako

        Same here. I don’t want to be wined and dined, and refuse to hang out with men who I know want to date me, but me, not them. I, too pay for my own meals.

        • Nikki

          I think that’s the smart way to do it. You never know how these men will act. Some guy told my friend that if he took her out to the movies, she better give him some 0_o. This was in college, so I know he was old enough to know better! lol

    • York

      Man, I ain’t fenna front, wine and dine me to get on my good side lol. But I have enough good sense to not accept it from someone I’m lukewarm about…I wish every woman acted on that moral but at the same time, men need to turn up the intuition and wise up to the disinterested users.

      • JaneDoe

        Girl high five

        • Blackhawk


      • Blackhawk

        I’m not mad at u baby… i’m sure its still a couple of dirty old men who would love to wine and dine u lol. Seriously though… think like a man for a sec and tell me how does the old way benefit us.

        • York

          It doesn’t benefit any man who wants to spread his attention among many women….and that’s certainly not the man I would latch to. If a man is seriously interested in a lady, he will act accordingly. Casual acquaintances get the 2 for $20 all day every day. But a man should naturally invest more in somebody who is more than a passing fancy-IF he wants her to take him seriously. It’s not too much to ask.

          • Blackhawk

            I’m talking about first dates, not someone i’ve been seeing for awhile gotten to know and determined if this is something that i wanted to pursue on another level. I’m talking about the chick that i just met at the sports bar last sunday. She may be cute but a casual date, hang out , hook up is all she’s going to get from me in the beginning. My main focus is to see if we can even vibe like that, the last thing i’m thinking about is trying to wine and dine this girl that i don’t even kno yet. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

            • York

              I can understand if you’re talking first date. But after a few it’s time to step the game up,at least let her get an appetizer lol. The article was about courtship, it ain’t always gonna be first date time.

  • Babydoll 70

    Yes courtship is dead and it’s so very sad.

  • TeahMonae

    This is exactly why Manti Te’o thought he was in love with a girl who didn’t even exist.

    • bluekissess

      The girl did exist. She was apart of identity theft.

    • hollyw

      EXACTLY! He went to school in my hometown and is a prime example of when online dating goes wrong…

    • anonymous

      good response

  • Just Peachy!

    Yes, call me old fashioned but I refuse to let technology rule my social interactions and I simply don’t want a man who can’t relate to me otherwise. Now sending a text here & there is not bad in and of itself but when you use it most of the time to communicate???? So much can get lost or misinterpreted that way. Or online dating-all the time.We are really starting to become disconnected as a society as a result of abusing our technological advances.

    Some people don’t know when to turn it off or to step back from it like say a few moments. When you do get a date in the traditional sense the rudeness ensues by texting and updating Facebook or answering every single call that comes in. It is just a sad.

    • York

      Unless a man has children I take off MAAAD points if he more than glances at the phone on a first date. Hell, I’m dating a man with a few kids and even he has enough sense to cut the phone off or apologize if he needs to take the call even when we’re just chilling! If Facebook is more important than me then that’s who you need to be dating lol

    • bluekissess

      Totally agree. It’s like we’ve become lazy. Whatever happened to laughing in a cafe sharing a milk shake.

      • Blackhawk

        U sound like a good girl.. i don’t see why guys are not asking u out, especially if all u just want is a lil conversation a guy to share a milkshake with. What dude would say no to that?

        • chanela

          that’s why they don’t ask her out, cause she’s a smart

          i got insulted once by a guy who did all this mess. he called me a little girl and stuck up for not considering his house at 11pm a date. smh so many girls are accepting it and not asking for more than a movie and a lay that so many men think something is wrong with the women who actually have respect for themselves. smh

      • Senait Ashenafi

        Ha! I know right. Girl you ain’t gonna find a man that does that these days. To them that’s “lame”. Smh.

        • Blackhawk

          I’m not trying to be funny, but guys won’t even take u to get a milkshake.. wow U might need to move asap.

      • Nikki

        Hmm, I want to do that now. I have to find a milkshake place around here….

    • chanela

      seriously! people can’t sit down to dinner without taking pictures of their food and putting it on instagram. i’ve seen two people on a date and texting and on facebook the ENTIRE TIME. they even ignore the waitstaff because they’re too busy on their phones. smh

  • Thank goodness I don’t have date in today’s world. Suddenly meeting up on a date is passe, WTF? How do you get to interact with someone and gauge how your personalities mess if you don’t actually spend time together in which you are fully clothed? Witty Facebook exchanges can not replace realizing that he has a lisp or that her laugh is extremely obnoxious. You can only figure that stuff out by verbally communicating with someone. What has the world come to? Shoot me and my husband still go out on dates.

    • bluekissess

      First, congratulations. Secondly, I’m a tad bit jealous but, in a playful way. So, awesome. I’m still in the “single” arena. I’ve been picky. I’ve talked to guys who would text one way and didn’t know how to talk on the phone. They don’t even ask to go out on a date. I don’t ask for much. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just a place for no distractions just interpersonal communication.

      • You have to be straight up with men early on. They get a feel for what kind of woman you are and what you will let them get away with from jump street. So if all homie is doing is texting then you send him a text that says “I’m not really much of texter call me in an hour.” This sets the expectation on his end that he is going to have to pick up the phone and actually use it to place a call.

        If you’ve been talking (on the phone not texting) for a couple of weeks and the only invitation he’s extended to you is to come over and watch a movie. Turn that ish around and say “Tonight’s no good for hanging out, why don’t we grab bite to eat or something Saturday?” If he don’t step up to the plate after that cut his azz loose. A man into you will take your lead and do what he has to do to gain your interest and to be in your presence. And those are the ONLY men you want to spend any time on. Good luck.

        • JaneDoe

          That’s pretty good advice if I do say so myself.. I’m gonna try that turn around

        • intelligent chik

          that’s really great advice!!! some tips i will actually use…thank u:)

        • bluekissess

          I’m alreay knowing. I always keep my scissors handy. Good advice

    • SheBe

      You said VERYTHING I wanted to say. Hubby and I still go on dates as well when we can. I’m glad I’m out of the market as well. Courtship is seen as cheesy and a waste of time? No thanks.

  • Na Na

    Womp, womp, womp. No wonder men and women are socially screwed listening to advice like this.

    • ieshapatterson

      Makes sense.people are now breaking up with each other over text,it’s now okay to have one night stands,with little to no protection and now they brag about who they sleep with.

      • sweettea

        that crap is only acceptable when you make it acceptable. I got marrird 10 years ago. and all of that was prevalent then too. I refused to put up with it. You don’t have to settle for rudeness and neglect