When my niece was a teenager, I couldn’t tell which (or if any) of the boys in the roving gang she hung out with was a guy she was actually dating. Turned out there was one fellow who was “hers” and we had a long confusing chat about how no one “dates” anymore. People “went out”, which was different from “seeing each other” but that didn’t mean they were dating, which apparently was completely passe.
I never could get a handle on the new language, but I remember feeling sad that she and her friends seemed to be missing out on old-fashioned romance, anticipation, or the idea of a Friday or Saturday night being worth dressing up for, instead of being just another day to roll with the homies.
Michael W. Hannon writes about this, and wonders if it’s not time to re-introduce the concept of “dating” to a world where every day is too much like the one before and the one to come.
In ye olden days, there was an established social script for this kind of thing. Once upon a time, the lovely lady in waiting extended an invitation to her potential courters, who, if they so desired, could call on her when she was in and then do their best to woo her to their cause. A generation later, the norm changed, the new expectation being that the gentleman would approach the lady who caught his fancy, and then, oh so suavely, request the opportunity to take her out on Friday night.
The relative merits of such customs are, of course, highly debatable. My point is not to hold them up as universal ideals worthy of our eternal emulation. But, love them or hate them, at least in our parents’ day they had a set of customs, any set of customs, surrounding the dating game. We really don’t. Our generation lacks any coherent social script for this kind of thing, and as a result, our attempts to start the dating process can be a little, ahem, messy.
Put yourself in the girl’s shoes for a second. Today, if a guy you know comes up to you—or worse, texts or “Facebooks” you—and asks if you would like to grab dinner on Friday, what would you make of it? Especially since, in all likelihood, y’all grab dinner pretty frequently anyway, just hanging out as per usual. Does it even cross your mind that you just got asked on a date? Maybe.
But are you sure about that? Doubtful.
Sometimes I wonder if the trend for overdone weddings isn’t a kind of compensation for the excessive casualness of our dating-or-whatever-it-is culture. If the whole dating processes has become unmarked by romance, if the dating (can I say courtship?) has lacked markers, perhaps the wedding becomes the marker?
It’s also interesting to note the trend toward “destination” weddings, whereby you bring your friends and family with you, and turn the whole wedding/honeymoon into a giant gang-vacation.
Thirty years ago, when my husband and I married, the whole point of the honeymoon was to get away from everyone and be alone together — a time of sealing intimacy that makes you feel like you’re “one flesh” and also a kind of “nation of two.” But I guess if you’ve been getting busy for years or have been living together, you’ve moved past all that?
Except, I don’t think that’s true. A marriage still needs intimacy, and even after years of living together it’s possible to rekindle that first “nation of two” experience. And it’s actually a really beautiful thing when you discover that it still exists between you. Some of us rediscover it when the nest empties, and it’s a great renewal. When a couple is honeymooning with family and friends, are they saying they don’t need or want that intimacy, or that they’d rather just keep hanging with everyone — be “intimate” with everyone? But we can’t be intimate with everyone, can we? I know I can’t.
I don’t get it. It’s all beyond me.
Meanwhile, how many winced at “ye olden days”? They weren’t that long ago.
Read the rest here. What do you think about Hannon’s idea, and the whole question of dating, specialness, intimacy?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com