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  • Writer's pictureDr. Tarra Bates-Duford

Dating Then & Now

There is no denying the process of dating and establishing romantic relationships have changed significantly over time. In the past courtship has been the formal manner in which relationships began and developed. When viewing dating from an historical perspective many daters met through family members, friends, or a by chance meeting. Unlike dating of the past, a considerable amount meeting and dating occurs online (think back to 1989, online dating wasn’t even possible). With the advancement of electronics many people often do not have to leave their home to meet and date someone new. Meeting and dating is also not confined to someone’s general area but can spread out to other states and even countries. Dating has become global instead of just local! However, like most things that become more technology based it also becomes less personal and more impersonal. A lot of what made dating special in the past no longer exists today as daters attempt to view, compare, and rate profiles based upon visual images rather than the content of personality.

Here are a Few Ways Dating Has Changed Over the Years:

  • Meeting in person is becoming rarer and rarer. Face-to-face conversations are no longer the norm and often talking on the phone takes a backseat to text messaging and emails. There is more indirect contact than there is direct contact.

  • Dating online allows daters to be more deceptive in their interactions with one another. It is easier to lie successfully online; you can lie about your age, profession, can post an old picture, or hide being in an existing relationship or marriage.

  • Dating now allows daters many more opportunities to date multiple people. In the past it was much harder to successfully carry on multiple relationships behind the back of one’s partner.

  • Courtship played a dominant role in dating. Many people would go out often and spend time together rather than talking for an extended period of time online. By spending time together and having more direct contact daters acquired a better understanding of their partner’s likes, dislikes, personality style, and general compatibility.

  • Past dating also allowed daters to obtain more valuable accurate information about the person they were dating or interested in. This is true because daters typically knew someone who knew the person they were dating or were introduced to them by a friend, acquaintance, or family member.

  • Deception surrounding relationship status, occupation, personality type, age, etc., is greatly reduced when meeting and dating was done in the past. Daters couldn’t hide behind created profiles and misleading information.

  • Men behaved more chivalrous in the past then they do now. Most men no longer feel the need to pull out a lady’s chair, open doors or give up their seat for women as they did 20 years ago and women no longer expect them to.

  • More thought and consideration was placed on when and if the couple’s relationship should move in a sexual direction.

The Process of Dating Now:

  • Singles that work extensive hours or varying hours can now meet others in spite of their hectic work schedule.

  • Daters can conduct a background check on the single they are interested in; they can also engage in an image search of the singles profile picture.

  • Communication is conducted more impersonally than impersonally, i.e., internet, emails, and text messages. As indirect communication continues to rise so does the likelihood of misinterpreting a message or other misunderstandings.

  • For the average 20- or 30-year-old, a traditional date includes using a smartphone app to locate someone of the opposite sex whose physical appearance is appealing, texting him or her, meeting in a bar, mumbling through conversation with the person in between texting friends, and then possibly returning to the other’s apartment for a late-night tryst.

  • It is now more socially acceptable for women to be single and remain single. The stigma of being single post thirty has all but disappeared and many women don’t feel the traditional pressure from family and friends to marry young and start a family.

  • Older singles tend to seek and develop relationship with partners much younger than they are.

  • It is not uncommon for men to date younger women, however, many women are now dating and marrying younger men almost as much their male counterparts.

  • The decision to have sex is not as weighted as it was in the past. Daters are now engaging in sexual behaviors and acts with individuals they just met or do not know very well.

Individuals in their mid-30's and up often fare little better when it comes to dating and relationships. Many of those in their 30’s and up understand the concept of dating, most have been in serious, long-term relationships before, and are aware of the impact infidelity and deceptive behavior can have on an individual’s self-esteem. Therefore, they are more likely to be authentic and transparent in their romantic relationships.


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