Evolution of dating through the 20th century
Throughout the 20th century, relationships have evolved from courting and staying in, to going out and online dating. Things that are not socially acceptable today were perfectly normal back then. People used to meet up with lots of different people and tried to get to know them, but today if people go on multiple dates in a row with different people, they are seen as players.
“In the first decade of the twentieth century, men “called upon” young women whom they fancied by… visiting her home,” according to an article titled, “The History of Dating,” on soc.ucsb.edu. Usually, the parents supervised the couples during the conversations. Love was not usually a part of the equation for the upper classes because they viewed these relationships as strategic business moves. The lower classes usually left the house to talk because the woman’s families were not wealthy enough to host people in their homes all the time.
The 1920s was a time of wealth and so changed the dating game; it was seen as a matter of status. Men bought woman’s attention with gifts and, “women would only accepted date invitations from men with money,” as stated on soc.ucsb.edu.
The upper classes liked the idea of leaving the parents at home and started to rebel by going out. So the idea of “going out on a date” was born, and the idea of “courting” was dying. “By the 1930s and 40s, [dates] increasingly took place in public spaces such as movie theaters and dance halls, removed by distance … from the sheltering… contexts of the home,” according to Skip Burzumato, author of the article, “A Brief History of Courting in America.” Dates like these became more popular because of the influence of automobiles, so the men could take women to the movies, dancing, or to dinner.
World War II began in the 1940s and women became less concerned with who had money and could buy their affection. They began to be more concerned about who would survive the war and come home to them rather than status. It became evident that a lot of couples would not have a lot of time to spend together, so instead of casual dates, the concept of “going steady” emerged.
After the war ended however, courting returned to a matter of status and was used “for boys and girls to demonstrate their popularity…and be seen with the right people,” according to Margaret Mead, contributor to the article, “A Brief History of Courting in America.”
In the 1950s, going steady meant wearing his letterman jacket or class ring. Engagements consisted of diners and drive in movies. This was the first time that peers and family had more sway than the parents did in regards to their significant other.
Everything changed in the 1960s and 1970s. The Women’s Movement and the push for equality between the genders changed gender roles. “This time period is said to mark the end of the dating era, and the beginning of the ‘hookup” culture,”’ according to the article, “The History of Dating.”
Women saw themselves as more than just a housewife or a prize to be won. This philosophy and the introduction of the new birth control pill were two factors in the death of dating. “The birth control pill allowed women to have sex without the fear of pregnancy,” stated Alice Drinkworth, author of the article, “Women & Dating in the 1970s,” and without the fear of pregnancy, women had sex for pleasure, marking the beginning of the hook up/hanging out culture. Women were no longer interested in dating, and only wanted to hang out, leading to the death of formal dating.
Beginning in the 1980s, expensive dinner dates were becoming more and more popular. Women began prepping for the dinners, wearing expensive clothes, jewelry, perfume to impress the men who were more often than not paying the bill. Women also started placing their careers before their family, choosing work over their love lives.
“The world wide web was slow, but it helped redefine a new era of romance,” as technology and dating began to mix in the early 1990s, stated Brandon Alexander, in the article, “What Dating Was Like in the 1990s.” Email and chatrooms and instant messages were today’s flirting. Instead of making you a playlist, he made you a mixtape. Instead of texting, he called you on the phone. Instead of Netflix and chill, they had Blockbuster and chill.
Technology and mingling began to merge even more in the twenty first century. Online dating websites and social media have made meeting new people easier than ever. Texting and iPhones have replaced face-to-face conversations. Gone are the days of talking and getting to know people. Now are the days of swipes left, retweets, and flirty emojis.
Pop culture makes the single life seem glamorous and tell women to feel empowered when they are not in a relationship and they do not need a man and because of this trend, the popularity of dating has gone down.
Relationships used to be formally announced, but nowadays, we have “things,” which is different. Dating is formally announcing going out with someone whereas a “thing” is mutually liking someone but not committing to anyone or doing anything about it. They usually talk or text but don’t hang out.