The Enemy of Courtship and Dating

November 6, 2009 | NeW Staff

One topic I often hear addressed by college women–both in NeW and beyond–is what has happened to dating?  What about the days of our grandparents and even are parents, where a young man called your home phone (taking the risk of having to talk to your big, scary father) and asked you for a date?  He’d show up on time, you’d go to the diner downtown, maybe going swing dancing afterwards, and then he’d drop you off at 10 o’clock sharp.  The next night?  Well, you might even have a different date on Saturday.  Gentleman number two might take you to the college football game.  Dressed in your team’s colors, you’d share a box of cracker jacks, he’d buy you a coca cola, and you’d wave your team shaker and bask in your team’s victory.  When the game was over, you’d say goodnight at your doorstep.  No long-term commitments were made, but both young men treated you like a lady.  They were each polite: opening doors, showing up on time, and paying for your meal.  They knew that in order to have a date with you, this sort of behavior would be expected and demanded.

Well, I think we can all say that sort of dating is long gone.  No longer do young men and women go on casual dates.  What’s worse, I fear, dating altogether is dying.  The new fad?  Hooking up and “hanging out.”

Ladies, it looks like we can identify the culprit.  David Brooks in a recent New York Times opinion column, discussed the undeniable influence of cell phones on relationships.  He cites cell phone technology as the source for the decline of traditional modes of dating, pursuit, and courtship.  He writes,

“Technology, especially cellphone and texting technology, dissolves obstacles. Suitors now contact each other in an instantaneous, frictionless sphere separated from larger social institutions and commitments.”

What a world we have entered into.  You and I all know Brooks’ assessment is so true.  Texting, in particular, has become the easy option for both guys and gals.  You can play it “cool” far too easily.  You can reach someone in an instant, without traditional barriers.  It has made dating all too impersonal and hooking up the easy solution.  Brooks goes on to describe cell phones creating social lives equal to economics:

“They are free agents in a competitive arena marked by ambiguous relationships.  Social life comes to resemble economics, with people enmeshed in blizzards of supply and demand signals amidst a universe of potential partners.”

This description is grim but accurate.  How can we stop it?  How can we as young women begin to change this cultural trend?  Well, for starters, demand respect.  We have enabled young men in their casual pursuit of us (if you can even call texting to “hang out” a pursuit).  Ladies, I have a challenge for you.  I know it’s hard, being the blackberry addict that I am, but it’s vital if we want to save traditional dating and relationships.  Don’t text back.  It will only serve to lessen and weaken any chance of a stable, committed relationship.  We are ladies, and our actions should reflect this.  Giving into “courtships” centered on texting and technology will hurt both you and the young man you are interested in.
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