The Crucible

The Dating Game: Then and Now

BY:Rachel Sacks

Dating. Relationships. Love. It is difficult to argue that these words are not thrown around and used in everyday life.

In college and as we get older, these words and other related terms might become more important to us. Whether we receive questions from our family about when we plan to get married or if we ourselves think about finding a partner, romance seems to be inevitable.What has seemed to change over time is the romance game that is played between girls and boys.

In college and today’s “hookup culture”, long-term relationships are not often seen or heard about. Occasionally you see someone in your dorm that has been in a steady relationship since high school or you hear about your roommate’s cousin who is getting married to her college sweetheart. But for the most part, college romance consists of drunken hookups, one-night stands and friends with benefits.

In the past or before cell phones and social networking sites like Facebook, if a girl was interested in a boy or vice versa, they would ask their friends about them or try to find the courage to ask them out. Back then they even called the person on the telephone to get in touch. Even earlier than this, adults supervised dates.

The Internet has changed how people get in contact with each other, and romance overall. Today we have online dating services, such as, that can help someone find a lifelong partner or at least a few dates. Facebook, email, and Skype have become ways to keep people connected and updated on one another, no matter how far apart they are. With texting, we can easily ask if someone wants to casually hang out or get together later, without the possibility of being rejected or embarrassed in person.

Possibly the biggest factor in how dating has changed from the past to the present though is how standards for girls and boys have changed, and how history has changed society.

In the 1920’s dating was highly gendered- the boy was supposed to ask the girl out with permission from her parents, provide transportation and pay for the date.

During the following decades, women were expected to get married, have children and stay at home to cook and clean. Back in the past however, if women were not married they were to remain virgins. Premarital sex was neither considered nor talked about, especially as birth control was illegal some places. This greatly contrasts today, where premarital sex on most college campuses is considered a norm, and obtaining birth control has been made easier.

The dating system with defined rules broke down by the 1960’s and 70’s, and became less ritualized and more about “hanging out” and “hooking up”.

Standards have changed for women greatly from the past to the present, including how others see women’s personal lives.

In the past, a woman was expected to go out with many different men but not have premarital sex or to be considered promiscuous.

Today we refer to women who sleep with many different men degrading names such as “slut” or “whore”. In the past if a man went out with a lot of women he was seen as popular. Today many women and even some men dislike guys who have been with a lot of girls.

Many people think dating was easier in the past. In actuality, dating has simply changed over time or been adapted to what was “current” in society. In the 1920’s, the United States had just come out of fighting a war and was about to enter the Great Depression. This affected men and women’s positions in society, from the home to the workforce to relationships. Times were tough, so dating was stricter. In the 70’s however, more women were in the workforce and had as many rights as men did.

Dating is still the budding relationship between two people when they show interest in each other, or as defined by Webster’s Dictionary “a social or romantic appointment or engagement”.

This entry was published on April 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm. It’s filed under Features and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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