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Dating: A Cumulative Practice

Dating has been around for quite some time, but today Dating is different and more advanced then ever before. Throughout all of the readings I have done on this topic, I have realized that not a single author has a clue what the standard is for Dating today. Maybe it is because all of the authors have been inactive in the dating game for quite some time and do not realize the complexity of dating as it is today. Through thorough research and personal experiences of myself, my family and my friends, I will prove that dating today does have a set standard. The practice today is cumulative, in which seemingly the best points of dating in the past decades are put together while the restrictions of these philosophies are not put into practice.

In the past dating actually did not exist. Instead of taking someone out on a date, a male caller came to the female's house to sit and discuss topics with her and her family. More likely than not, the parents, or whoever was in charge of these young Adults, would choose their life mate for them. The daughter's parents also had the power to decline any male caller they did not see fit for marrying their daughter. This type of relationship was the standard for the day, and the decision on the man the woman would wed, would be based on more material reasons than love. Reasons like financial aspects of the parties, political status, religious views, or family heritage. Love seemingly, was only considered in certain circumstances.

Today, this type of relationship is almost non-existent. However, when a relationship reaches a certain level, sit-downs with parents and gaining valuable experiences and lessons through them, are not uncommon. I have been dating my girlfriend for almost a year and a half and in that time I have developed a personal relationship with her entire family and her with mine. I feel it is necessary for someone to develop a strong relationship with their partner's family because it makes the entire relationship easier on the couple.

"From Front Porch to Back Seat: A History of the Date, " an article written by Beth Bailey explaining the evolution of Dating, shows how each generation had their set values for relationships. After the "male-calling era, " finally came the origination of the date. "Dating, which emerged from working class urban culture, became a key ritual of youth culture in the 1920s and was unquestionably the dominant form of 'courtship' by the beginning of World War II" (370). Dating was based on the popularity of the female and material possessions of the male (370). A teen girl was considered "popular" if they were seen with multiple partners and were considered unpopular if they were seen with only one (a basis revealing that one was not adequate enough in certain categories to be seen with more than one boy) (371)."

The term promiscuity would be what that system would be referred to as today, but with more unkind words. Young Adults today do have promiscuous attitudes towards sexual relationships and what not, but most feel it necessary to play hard to get. A method founded on the principle of two sayings: "Less is more" and "You always want what you can not have." Others, who find the reckless attitude straining and difficult, or those who find comfort in a partner, choose to exclusively date a single person and look for love. The dating experience of the pre-World War II era and the famous "necking-grounds" invented by Lewis B. Simon in 1930 can be found in society today very easily, but what a girl would be considered popular for back then, she would attain another label today.

Bailey also shows the relevance of magazine articles on dating in the past and how young females used these clippings for advice on boys, Sex and relationships (371). An excerpt from Mademoiselle's college issue in 1938 shows what young adult females were thinking back then: "She must be attractive if she can rate all that attention" (371). Advice such as this was dished out in various publications at the time and was a mainstay for young women.

The World Wide Web is this generation's magazine article. By simply typing the word dating into a search engine, a person can come across thousands upon thousands of results ranging from dating tips, to experiences, to the new fad: E-Dating. E-Dating is signing up for an on line web site and having your personality matched with the most compatible partner. It is the simple way of cutting out the small talk and the ever long search for that perfect person and sets you up with your "dream date." Although these sites are not fool proof and not everyone finds that connection they were looking for. Basically, the Web is an advanced form of what young Adults were reading in magazines in the 1930s.

"Get Your Hand Out of My Pocket, " by Darryl James outlines his views on one of the most debatable dating topics today: Who pays. To him, he wants a clear cut outline before he goes out on the date of what is going on: "Being single and dating gets rough enough without all the confusion of financial expectations" (377). James has no problem paying, as long as he knows upfront. Referring back to Bailey's article, she states that after World War II when going steady became popular the boy had to pay for the girl when they went out but "the girl had to help her boyfriend save up for big events by budgeting 'their' money, even if it meant sitting home together" (372). Going steady referred to seeing exclusively one partner and showing they were now a couple by certain tokens, such as a class ring or varsity jacket.

So who pays in today's society? Sueann Allen writes an interesting article and touches on the subject in "Dating Rules-Keys to Success or Outdated Customs?" She sides with James, stating "you need to know the rules first" (Dating Rules). Allen also believes that letting the man pay for the date allows him to "showoff" and gives him the "upper hand, " exactly what the women do not want (Rules). She claims that her rules will help women who are nervous and do not know what to do on dates and make them more confident and give them an advantage (Rules).

I do not believe that dating is about having an advantage. Although, I am biased in the matter for I have only dated one girl in the past twenty months. Before I would have agreed with Allen on the matter, especially when you are first Dating, who ever has the most control on the dates usually controls the relationship. Now, after awhile I realize dates are about having fun and being with the single person you love being with more than anything in the world. It is not about who is winning or in control, but all in the experience.

As Bailey moves along in her article, she states at the conclusion that there is no uniform way of dating like there has been in the past (373). She understands that young Adults today are not certainly promiscuous or exclusive but somewhere in between or in a transition stage. Irene Yarkoni wrote a brief article on a web page titled "Dating Trends" and it shows how the dating game has changed, almost the same way as Bailey. Yarkoni believes that men are now becoming the hunted by the women, instead of the women being pursued by the men (Trends). She also states that we have noticed "confusion in gender roles" and that "women have been showing drive and initiative...and as a result, men have taken a more passive role" (Trends).

I do not necessarily agree with either of them on this point. I do think women have become more influential in dating but men have not taken a back seat to them. It has become more common though for a woman to ask out a man than it has been in the decades past.

With all the evidence shown it is clear to see that our generation has taken a piece of advice from all of the generations preceding us. We have a taken the best chapter out of all the books on dating and combined it into one distinct, cumulative way of Dating. We do not specifically go by the rules on all subjects but modify the way we date to our fitting. The way we date today is not indescribable, but rather very comprehensible. Dating today is a collection of the forms of dating past. This cumulative dating practice takes away the disadvantages and reinforces the advantages of all the past dating ways.


Allen, Sueann. "Dating Rules-Keys to Success of Outdated Customs." Top Ten Reviews.

Bailey, Beth. "From Front Porch to Back Seat: A History of the Date." Miller, Robert K. The Informed Argument. 7th ed. Boston: Thomas Wadsworth, 2007.

James, Darryl. "Get Your Hand Out of My Pocket." Miller, Robert K. The Informed Argument. 7th ed. Boston: Thomas Wadsworth, 2007.

Yarkoni, Irene. "Dating Trends." The Single Option: Your Dating Guide. 13 Mar 2007.

By Jim Kelly - Graduated cum laude in 2010 with degrees in Political Science, Law and Justice, and Liberal Studies with a concentration in International Studies. I enjoy sports, books, politics, and entertainment.  

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