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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