So I'm late on writing about this...but at least I'm writing at all, right? That's some progress right there... A few weeks ago, the New York Times Style section ran a controversial piece, "The End Of Courtship?". I tried to ignore it, but it kept popping up on my list of recommendations, so I gave it a read. I wish I could say it's a riveting piece...but really its just crap.
I mean, consider these gems found in the piece:
MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one.
“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”
Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”
The article goes more in-depth into this new crisis in the dating world, regaling us with stories of GenYers & Millenials who use online dating & other social media, never call on the phone, date in groups, & hookup culture. It's the written version of a scolding parent - if you young whippersnappers don't get your lives together, you'll never get a real job, get married, buy a house, have kids & slave your life away until you can retire! You can't throw your life away having fun, bucking social norms, and *gasp* actually figuring out yourself & what you want in a relationship!
I'm so over it. Like done done done.
The only thing the NYTimes got right is the fact that GenYers & Millenials are dating differently than earlier generations. People in their 20s & early 30s are texting more, using more social networking to connect with people (including potential dates), using online dating sites, etc. They aren't constrained by traditional norms, and why would they be? They grew up in a world where marriage rates are declining, children are more likely to be born out-of-wedlock, women outnumbering men on college campuses & the invention of the stay-at-home dad. This isn't the 1950s, the days of men & women getting married because one party needed financial support & one party needed domestic support. Freed of the constraints of the traditional reasons to get married (kids, finances, etc) younger folks are "following their bliss" & making decisions based on what's best for them at the time. And for many, that includes dating differently.
The days of a young couple sitting in the parlor on a Sunday afternoon are over.Instead of courting every Sunday, now we're getting to know each other via Twitter, then Gchat, then Skype. We have Skype dates & Google each other before the first date & send each other friend requests on FB. Our relationships grow & develop differently now...but the point is they grow.
How many people ended up in loveless marriages, sleeping in separate rooms, with side relationships (hell, even whole other side families) because they married someone they didn't have true affection for? Marriage solely for the sake of marriage doesn't do society or its participants any good. Younger people are now taking the time to find a match - someone who complements them on a spiritual/sexual/physical/emotional/financial/etc level. It's not about just getting married anymore & checking that box. Instead it's about finding a person who can be with long-term, while also achieving their professional & educational goals. I'd rather see a couple get married later in life, and truly be committed to their relationship & each other, than a couple who gets married early due to societal pressures & end up unhappy together, or divorced.
Now...while the art of dating has changed in the 21st century, that doesn't mean that some behaviors are acceptable. What irked me about the NYTimes piece was this assertion that every young male dater is being disrespectful to the ladies, and that all the young ladies are taking it. Things that are highlighted in the article -flaking out on dates, text-only relationships, jumpoff situations with one party wanting more - are the exceptions, not the norms. Young ladies absolutely should not accept this type of treatment, but because they are, some young men are going to do as much as they are allowed to get away with. How unfortunate. Changing societal norms will never make things like bailing on a date at the last-minute ok.
At the end of the piece, I was left with only one conclusion - the mainstream media has moved on from the "Black women aren't getting married!" crisis, to the "Young people aren't getting married!" crisis. This article was nothing more than a scare tactic to the younger generations, a written scolding for them to shape up & act right by conforming to the arcane rules that their parents & grandparents were forced to adhere to. Mark my words, soon we'll see magazine articles, books, segments on CNN, all devoted to the marriage crisis among the younger generations. There's no crisis, it's all being manufactured to sell things & drive women to panic (cause let's be honest, most young men don't give a damn about when or if they get married...because they don't receive the same type of pressure from their families that young women receive).
I say we all opt-out. Let's just enjoy our dating & relationships, no matter how different it may be from our parents' generation.