Dating in the 21st Century

Dating involves the process of getting to know a prospective partner without feeling rushed into a commitment. The forms of dating have changed over several generations with the transitioning of family values and social trends. As time elapsed, people began to change their ways of interacting with the opposite sex. From drive-thru movie theaters to social media, people have found plenty of ways to attract the perfect mate.

How Your Parents Dated

Between the years 1920 to 1945, dating became more informal than ever before. For the first time in human history, dating required no chaperones to supervise the interaction between two people. Both parties did not require a formal commitment to engage intimately with one another. Prior generations relied on the community and church to establish the dating rules, including the level of intimacy shared between two people. For instance, a man drove his date out to a social venue where it required money, usually at a public dancing event or movie theater. Society frowned on the man coming into the woman’s house for the night. This changed with the invention of the car, which enabled couples to have more privacy and intimacy. This led to the formation of “petting” parties, a new kind of dating that allowed two people to get to know each other before making a commitment. Petting parties turned the focus to success and popularity without emotional involvement. Before this type of dating became popular, couples courted for the sole purpose of finding the ideal mate.

During the 1930s, people started to engage in “steady” relationships that involved casualness of dating instead of marriage searching. A steady relationship generally lasted anywhere between one week to a couple of months. This short-term bond involved meaningful rituals, such as the sharing of class rings and jackets. These same practices carried over several decades later. During the 1950s, men and women married each other during their early twenties. The rise of feminism drastically changed early marital practices during the 1960s. As women became more empowered, they shifted their attitude towards their own independence. As a result, more women attended college to jump-start their careers.

Between the years 1960 to 1972, youth culture developed a more liberal approach to premarital sex. Couples could easily get their hands on birth control. In fact, more than two million women were using the birth control pill only three years its release. The average first intercourse experience for males started at age 16 and age 17 for females. During the 1980s, an estimated 80 percent of males and 65 percent of females engaged in premarital sex. While some people still engaged in formal dating practices, the majority continued to enjoy informal opposite sex interaction. Dating no longer involved courtship and marriage as its primary focus. Chivalry became a thing of the past, and people continued with their noncommittal approach to dating. It still involved face-to-face interaction until the technological revolution of the late 1990s to early 2000s era.

How Your Friends Are Dating

To older readers, the above scenario may have a distant familiarity to how they met their significant other. Younger generations, however, may feel that old-fashioned dating restricts their ability to find the “one” in the modern world. Traditional dating has changed drastically over the decades, with many teenagers adopting the “going steady” approach. They may meet their boyfriend or girlfriend through a mutual friend at a social venue similarly to how their parents met. However, their approach to dating and commitment may not hold the same value as in the past. Older adults have also lessened their commitment to stable, long-term relationships by replacing them with casual encounters at the local bar or nightclub scene. While there is nothing wrong with this shift, many feel that it has robbed many people the opportunity for finding the “one.”

Many people have kept the traditional mindset, except they have transitioned to other venues of meeting people. For instance, many have turned to technology to find their special someone, usually through online dating and social media websites. Others have stumbled across advertisements of social events geared towards dating and building chemistry between two people. All of these options have expanded the horizon of finding prospective partners, including those looking for short-term, long-term, or casual relationships. These platforms may present benefits and pitfalls not found with the traditional dating approach. It all depends on the honesty and trust shared between both people.

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