Jan 15, 2013  •  In Personal, Relationships

From Dating to Messaging to Texting

Over the weekend, I read a NYTimes article titled The End of Courtship? which questions the new millennials’ methods of dating — or, in this case, not dating.

Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of “asynchronous communication,” as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it’s more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.

Online dating services, which have gained mainstream acceptance, reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. Faced with a never-ending stream of singles to choose from, many feel a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), so they opt for a speed-dating approach – cycle through lots of suitors quickly.

I grew up during the transition between traditional courtship and the current hookup culture. I remember calling boys I liked and hanging up (ahh, the good old days before call waiting!). I remember getting calls from boys who were interested in me. I also remember waiting by the phone, biting my nails down to the quick, sighing and moping and playing Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan on repeat.

Fast-forward a few years. Flirtations and hours-long conversations on the phone with boys were soon replaced by hours-long conversations over AIM. (And forwarding snippets to girlfriends, asking their opinion on what the guy meant.)

In fact, out of the four boyfriends I had before getting married, two “won” me over via IM. And out of the two, J practically stalked me online — as soon as I signed on, it was guaranteed that he would message me within 2 minutes.

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Is traditional courtship dead?

Now they’re saying texting has replaced IMs. Is this true? This is a genuine question coming from a 32-year-old who started dating her husband before text-messaging became mainstream.

If this is the case, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the new millennials. Phone calls tend to be more personal than IMs, and I recall feeling some awkwardness when I met my soon-to-be third boyfriend — with whom I had shared hours of IM conversations — for one-on-one coffee for the first time. (Do people even date over coffee anymore?)

Sure, I had danced with the guy. Sure, I had had drinks with him and eaten a meal with him, but that was all with other people. I knew him best via his online persona; I fell for him via his online persona. Was he different in person?

Luckily, that awkwardness soon passed and we stayed together for a year. But if I feel like this over IM conversations, surely there must exist people who feel similarly over text messages/Facebook messages/Tweets?

What do you guys think? Will traditional courtship become extinct soon?

4 Responses to “From Dating to Messaging to Texting”

  1. Why of course it will! Just like all the other antiquated methods of forming a relationship. By the fifties you no longer needed an escort present, you could be alone with a boy. Then you had the whole “pinning” phenomenon and “going steady”. It was only a matter of time before things evolved again. I do think the article is wrong about going out together, at least. The coffee shop scene is still alive and well in my opinion. But one thing I’m not really fond of in our modern world is the speed we move from meeting to exclusive. Whatever happened to casually going out with several different people without being labelled a player? Why so much pressure to jump straight into a relationship after a few dates or at the very least not see other people? That’s what I find strange.

  2. Eek565:

    My younger sister just broke up with a guy who NEVER called her. Only texted. I teased her about it and really put my foot in it. Apparently that was a sore spot.

  3. I read this article too! I hope it’s not true, but I think it is =oT

  4. Alice:

    Unfortunately, I think it’s true. Even my dad tells us to text him instead of calling him! The convenience of technology has definitely taken away personal attributes to relationships. A shy girl might be a text monster, but in person, she’s so timid and shy. If a guy was pursuing her via text, he’d think she’s awesome, but when they finally meet in person, will he think the same??

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