courtship

“I blame Steve Jobs and the invention of the smartphone!” That’s what my dear friend, E, shouted as we discussed the latest in my personal life during Scandal’s commercial break. I’d shared with her that a new guy, whom I’d named the “Texting King,” had fallen into the Black Hole of Dating after one too many iMessage exchanges without phone calls or dates. The last thing I need is a text buddy.

“Technology has killed courting (or as my mama would call it, “coatin’”), Alisha,” E said, “It’s not the same, and you need to write about it.” I took her up on the offer, but Alex Williams, New York Times writer, beat me to the punch (Ah, the struggle of writing in an online world).  In yesterday’s edition, he wrote, “The End of Courtship?,” which took a deep dive into the slow demise of traditional courting and dating through the eyes of millennials. Mr. Williams, you obviously know my life, except I’m not a millennial anymore.

Professional twenty-somethings, mostly women, gave their perspective on dating, suggesting that the days of “dinner and a movie” are long gone. They’re receiving invitations to “hang out,” rather than go on a date … and via text message and tweets.  He writes:

“It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.”

How dreadful. Thankfully, I’m fortunate, and apparently, old enough to have grown up in an era where real dates are normal. I’ve been on a range of dates: to the movies, dinner, outdoor concerts, out to shoot pool, long walks, etc.. They were formal, planned, and carefully thought out and some were spontaneous. As we become more inundated with technology, however, I’ve also come across some men whose idea of getting know you is engaging in heavy text conversation ONLY to delay spending real-time. When and how did that happen?

In my mind, too much e-communication in the beginning of any ‘ship is a no-no. That text you send me in the middle of the work day meant to be funny and sweet means nothing when I don’t know you well enough to know your humor or “get you.” It can cause confusion and sometimes “LOL” isn’t a cure-all.

After finishing Williams’ story, I had to answer his question. Is courtship dead? No, and neither gender “killed” it. We both play important roles in what we attempt to deem as appropriate in courting and what we are willing to accept.

What courtship is, though, is lazy, lacking creativity, and afraid.

We’re hanging out, instead of dating because “hanging” sounds less intimidating, as if a first date is a marriage proposal, instead of a starting point. We’re shocked when “hanging out” leads us to the Friend Zone. We haven’t seen people in our lives date properly. Real dates only happen on TV. We think that knowing someone via social media is the same as knowing who they really are, so we dismiss the value of face-to-face interaction. We are too busy, supposedly. We don’t have enough time to spend even an hour to have a meaningful conversation with someone we’re interested in.

We’re afraid of rejection and would die on the spot if a request for a date was denied over the phone, so a crummy text will have to do. We don’t want to come off as “thirsty” when we suggest to guys the proper way to initiate, so we text back, “Sure, what time?” We think courtship and deep pockets are one in the same. We’d rather have expensive dinners where we check our phones constantly than quiet time at a coffee shop or bookstore. No way he’s spending a heap of money on you when he doesn’t even know if he really likes you. Yes, it costs to date seriously, but we forget that getting to know someone is priceless.

So considering all of that, we’ve all got some work to do, internally even. While every person does not partake in this new culture, it’s very easy to unknowingly follow suit. Dating shouldn’t become the floppy disk of relationships. If you’re uncomfortable with something, speak up for change. And if change doesn’t transpire, there’s always that “moving on” thing.

119 Comments

  1. Smilez_920

    Simple: to me while courtship is changing it hasn’t died. People ( especially women) stop sticking to their standards . Most men who approach you in life just want to get in your pants, so all this courting your expecting from them , isn’t going to happen, they’ll just text never call etc… The men who are really interested will make an effort even if their not phone people. Most of the issues I hear from women about ” weird” communications/ lazy courting techniques ; usually their dealing with men who just aren’t that into them, but still want to get something out of them.

    As far as creativity goes, everybody’s so busy trying to express strangers and twitter followers that they think a guy taking them out to lunch or to grab a cup of coffee is unexceptable and every date should be 200 plus at a resturant some rapper named in a song.

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  2. I thought that this NYTimes piece was horrible. And no – it’s not that this is not your life because you might be a little older. It’s not the life for all millennials either. The piece is written as if women are something that dating and courtship just happens to. Like we have no role in how we are treated. If a guy doesn’t treat me the way I like, I tell him how I like to be treated. If he still doesn’t comply, then I’m done. On to the next.

    What’s worse is that the show cites GIRLS, and those couple of random professional women as its only sources. While I think GIRLS is a great show, I’m so perturbed that it is being received as the cultural norm for 20something women. Dunham’s show reveals one set of experiences — not ALL the experiences.

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    • Thanks for reading! I agree with you. I didn’t like the GIRLS reference, as I’m much older than the characters. I watch the show faithfully, but I don’t think this is the case for every young woman or young man.

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  3. Curls&Swirls

    Speak the truth, shame the devil lol It’s sad because the bare minimum seems to be what is excepted and expected in today’s society…especially in the dating arena. I find that sometimes there are men with a sense of entitlement and that their presence alone should be sufficient enough for a woman….uhmmm no. “We’re hanging out, instead of dating because “hanging” sounds less intimidating, as if a first date is a marriage proposal, instead of a starting point.” Very true. I call this generation the “gimmie” generation because so many people want specific things but don’t want to work to get it…

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    • On second thought texting is not a bad idea. Consider it a pre date, date. A way of getting to a person and feel them out before you go out on a date. A step in the courtship process not meant to replace a date but to see if it is worth continuing the process. No one like their time or wasted.

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    • JaeBee

      Why not call instead? Hearing someone speak is probably much more helpful in terms of making a decision about whether it’s “worth it” to continue on in the process of getting to know someone.

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    • Some people are not big on talking, there not bad people just not the type who engage in small talk. The conversation has to very structured and informing with an ending in sight.

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    • A pre date, date? Some people don’t like to talk on the phone? That type of attitude is part of the problem. Texting can never replace real conversation. Ever. I’m not about to sit and tell you my whole life story in a text message because you’re “not a phone person”. Thats some fragganackle bullshyt. Sorry. Too many things get lost in translation. Especially when you’re first making someones acquaintance.

      The problem is people do not want to take 20 minutes on the phone to have a conversation. Nor do they want to spend 2 hours on a date getting to know someone. Its lazy and its really annoying when you’re out there trying to meet someone you have a connection with.

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    • No one is say that texting should replace conversation or dating just a new first step in this tech age of ours in getting to some one if it advances you have a real interest if it does not than you saved time and money.

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  4. Smilez_920

    1) in 2013 can we please stop saying technology killed courting. Men who really are interested in your court, men who aren’t don’t .

    2) what technology has done is give some women who won’t accept that he’s not into her , hope. I get it texted you 3 smiley faces in a row even though he hasn’t returned your phone call in two weeks, it must be love -_- . Just because you follow him on twitter and fb doesn’t mean you know him, so be easy.

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    • I agree. The article should be re-titled “Thirsty Women Ruined Courting for Themselves.”

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    • Right, because women are to blame for everything. BOTH sexes need to step it up!

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    • No, because parched women are willing to accept undesirable behavior from men. Most heterosexual men are willing to do whatever it takes to be with the women they truly desire.

      Not all women are parched but extra-thirsty women do exist.

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    • Smilez_920

      @pink.
      1) it’s not a blame game and while both sexes have issues , it seems when it comes to courting women are ended up with the short end of the stick.

      2) I think once women understand that a man ignore or being wish washy with you , isn’t him being secretly into and not being able to express it, there is not super secret code , he’s probably not that interested in you. That doesn’t make you a bad woman or catch, just need to move on and ignore the jerk.

      3) I don’t think women who end up these situation are thirsty , just misguided .

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    • That sounds like slut shaming to me!

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    • binks

      LMAO…I totally agree with you and pinklipstick227! If a man wants to court you, wine and dine you, and be in communication with you if he likes you then HE will. If he doesn’t than he doesn’t, I swear these days to many women are accepting any old thing and ignoring MAJOR red flags. For example, my friend was supposed to have a date with this guy she met online but he didn’t show, she tried calling him and texting him but he didn’t answer until he text her back the next day saying something like “are you up for something today?…”thank god she had the sense to tell him off, it is not about the tools of communication per se but THE communication itself so no technology isn’t killing courting rituals but as other have said low standards are.

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