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.
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?