“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.

  • 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.

  • sydnielianamosleySydnie

    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.

  • 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…

  • Tonton Michel

    I blame the economy.

  • Tonton Michel

    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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