The History of Dating and Romance

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The older generation keeps saying that the way millennials date can’t be called “dating”, actually. Times are changing and so are some rituals and rules of courtship. What was once inadmissible, that is considered to be a norm today and vice versa. Every country has its own dating etiquette since it closely connected with local culture. Dating rules vary from country to country that is why Russian dating differs from the American or Western European dating culture. We decided to gain insight into the evolution of romantic relationships and trace its history back to the 19th century.

You must be interested why a romantic meeting with a person you like is called a “date”. The word first appeared in a newspaper article at the end of the 19th century. It was used in the meaning of “the date on the calendar when a person has a romantic rendezvous”.

There wasn’t such thing as dating 200 years ago since marriages were arranged by parents. They were interested in the financial status of a would-be bride or groom because they wanted that marriage to benefit their whole family.

Things changed in the early 1900s when gentlemen became the ones who initiated a relationship. A gentleman would come to lady’s house where their first date took place. A woman was necessarily accompanied by a chaperone. Their further dates were held in the same way until they felt a romantic interest in each other. After that, a man proposed to a woman.

At the outset of the 20th century, women could be arrested for dating. Men walking in the streets with women, buying them food and flowers were a new phenomenon, so the authorities didn’t know how to react. It resembled prostitution so much that they could charge women with it.

An interesting fact: dating promoted cosmetics. Decent women didn’t wear makeup, their “clean faces” were the sign of nobility. Only actresses and prostitutes used cosmetics. The makeup industry wanted to popularize their products, so they advertised them as the tools for making women more beautiful and feminine.

In the 1920s, dating entered into the stage of going out. This can be explained by the fact that young people became more independent from their parents. Daters went to a dance or an amusement park. Probably, the most popular date venue was a movie theater. Dating multiple people became a new trend during that period.

After World War II, it was popular to ask girls out over the phone. Dates often happened not tete-a-tete but in public places, among other young people. Young people talked much to get to know each other better. If the format of a date required money, men always were the ones who paid.

The concept of free love reached its peak in the 1970s. While earlier, sex on dates happened but was kept secret, since the ‘60s the dating rule prohibiting it has become less restrictive. Women became more emancipated and more into experiments.

Also, the term “biological clock” began to be widely used in the ‘70s. It was artificially coined and it originated from the cultural rather than biological grounds. The aim of this metaphor was to discourage women from their careers and direct their priorities to maternity and relationships.

The 1990s saw dating turned into hooking up. No-strings-attached relationships allowed men and women to be active players on the dating field. The hookup culture has replaced the dating culture and there have been the factors that facilitated it. The Internet with its dating apps is one of them. It has changed the way people meet, date and build relationships. The thrill of getting to know each other on a first date is the thing of the past since we show up knowing much about each other from our online chats.

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