I went on a date once. Yep, one date in my 20 years! And I am not talking about going out to dinner with my boyfriend, meeting up at 2 a.m. with that guy from the bar or seeing a movie with my platonic male friend. When I say date, I mean a real, hardcore date. To top it off, it was a total disaster (Upon my mention of wanting to see “The Blair Witch Project,” the schmuck actually said that he didn’t “do” low-budget films! Check please!). There are various reasons for my lack of dating, but I would like to focus on contemporary, young society and how our social ideals have changed over the years.
I have heard countless young adults, a majority of whom are women, complain that they have never been out on a “real” date. What happened to the dating culture? What happened to going to the diner on Friday night to share a chocolate milkshake and get to know each other a little better? Has our social world succumbed to the anticipation of taking home some inebriated specimen at the end of the night in an attempt to symbolize romance? Is there no longer any motivation to spend a little private (and sober) time with a member of the opposite sex? Who is to blame for all this? Is it society at large? Is it men? Are they afraid? Cheap? Lazy? Or is the “date” just out and I am that dork who is trying desperately to revive it?
In their innocent efforts to somehow be clued into our collegiate lives, our parents have bombarded us with painful questions like “Are you dating anyone?” How do you answer that? I believe, though I can never be completely sure because details are not a priority when discussing this subject with my parents, they are asking if we have been out on any dates with anyone.
These days, most would agree that the term “dating” entails two people in an intimate and exclusive relationship. Our parents dated. Back in the day, it was intrinsic to society that the role of the young man was to call the young lady up, take her to dinner and a movie, open doors, pay for everything and respectfully kiss her goodnight. They even dated different people simultaneously and then made the conscious decision to “go steady” when they were ready to be exclusive. It sounds so simple. It sounds pretty fun. Where did it go?
I can only speak from my own experience as a heterosexual female student, but after much discussion with various parties on the issue, it has come to my attention that most people want to have, yet have not had, the true dating experience.
Typically, instead of acting on these desires, college kids are more concerned with whom they’re going to get ass from at the end of the night (pardon my vulgarity but face it … sex is prioritized over intellect when it comes to spending time with a member of the opposite sex). Doesn’t anyone care about what people have to say anymore?
It is interesting to assess how much our culture has changed while our mentality has remained the same. Consciously or not, we are all looking for love and companionship in one form or another. Have we shunned dating as some forbidden manner of doing so?
Perhaps this is another rebellion against our parents’ generation. We will do anything to disgust them, surprise them and set ourselves apart from what they stood for when they were young. Therefore, we listen to rap music, go skydiving, pierce our nipples and never ever go out on dates!
This column is not a desperate attempt to secure dates for myself. I am merely commenting on an issue that I find to be fascinating in our social world. I think everyone here is under the assumption that dating just happens later in life. It is an experience saved for post-graduate, city dwellers in search for lifelong partners. And perhaps it shall remain as such. But, at this great university with its immense diversity of people, I encourage the age-old pastime of connecting to others.
Finally, I am obliged to look at this concept from a different and contemporary angle. As many of you already know, “conventional” is not a part of my repertoire (Not too long ago, I dedicated a column to my refusal to change my last name when I marry).
Thus, I wonder if this decline in dating parallels the incline in the women’s movement in the past few decades. In the past, it was merely expected of men to do the asking, the wooing, the paying and the calling the next day.
But times have changed my friends. This is the 21st century! Ladies, we are not little, frilly, housewives anymore. We are CEO’s, politicians, doctors and lawyers.
We are construction workers, police officers, writers and professional athletes. We have become everything that this patriarchal society has deemed us incapable of becoming.
So, let’s do one more thing that men have always been given the responsibility of. Forget tradition! Let’s revive dating with a whole new attitude. You want a date? Go out and get it!
Note: I would like to reinforce the fact that I am writing from a heterosexual standpoint. I do not mean to offend anyone with the stereotypes that I mention or the manner in which I analyze relationships.
– Rena can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.