We all know that dating is the first step of any relationship…right? Well, it’s not that simple.
Although dating is now a common way to meet people, land hookups, and possibly meet your future husband or wife, there is a bit of unknown history with dating.
The concept of dating is fairly new, having been developed and entered into the English language as an official word in the 1920s.
Dating is the process by which two people assess each other’s compatibility and determine whether or not to take things further in the relationship.
Before the 1920s and even in some countries today, it wasn’t uncommon to have arranged marriages in many parts of the world.
In fact, arranged marriages still exist today, with only 4% of them leading to divorce as opposed to 40% of marriages between couples that aren’t arranged.
Not only are divorce rates low in arranged marriages, but there are also many other benefits of these types of marriages. These include:
- Having family approval beforehand
- Financial benefits
- Benefits including shared property (which was the original purpose of marriage in early 18th century America)
- Having a partner that you might grow to love later on
And of course, the biggest benefit (nowadays) might be not having to search and go through the dating scene for any amount of time!
With so many advantages to arranged marriages, and even some countries still practicing this tradition today, why do people date each other?
Is there some other benefit to this, or is there a reason that dating has been ingrained into American culture?
For starters, it’s important to understand that dating is, in and of itself, a small part of courtship.
Courtship is the process by which two people attempt to know each other better and find each other suitable enough to get married. Sound the same as dating? Well, not quite.
Courtship originally took place in a woman’s residence with her family members, usually her mother and siblings, being present for the courtship.
During this phase, a man would attempt to prove himself worthy and suitable enough to marry their prospective lover.
However, times have changed drastically, and dating is now quite different than courtship.
Dating is, for instance, now done in public spaces, such as in bars, malls, shopping centers, clubs, you name it.
This is quite different from the traditional courtship process where these acts were done in a private residence.
In addition, dating now involves men and women meeting multiple people, as opposed to devoting all of their attention to a single woman.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As time progressed and women found themselves working alone in a new type of independent world, there were other reasons why they needed to date men.
The very word “date” was first published in a column by George Ade, which was published in the newspaper the Chicago Record in 1896.
In the column, a boy named Artie asks the columnist for advice since his former girlfriend has lost interest in him and is now seeing other men.
The sad Artie tells the columnist in his question, “I suppose other boys are filling my dates?”
Artie would just be one of many men that would find themselves lost in the newly created “dating scene” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
During this time, women were given more freedom to date whoever they wanted, how many times they wanted, and were not tied down by expectations to “marry.”
In fact, it was during this time that “dating” and “marriage” were separated – as was the purpose of sex.
Did you know that dating was once seen as an act of prostitution? It’s true!
During the 1920s, women who dated men could actually be jailed due to receiving drinks, gifts, and affection.
Also during this time, many women found themselves with the newfound liberty of being in the workforce and were free to begin careers and work in many capacities.
There was, however, a misconception by employers that women only worked to support the wages of their husbands, rather than work to help maintain themselves.
As a result, women were paid lower wages than their male counterparts. Seem unfair? It was.
Fortunately, women were able to not only have fun and explore their sexuality, but they were also able to gain benefits from dating from men.
Think about all that women get from dates (and men too, nowadays)
- Movie tickets
All of these were attractive to women who wanted to be part of the dating scene.
In addition, dating during the early 20th century coincided with the invention of birth control.
Contraception is not a new invention. In fact, early forms of contraception can even be seen in ancient times through condoms made of animal skins, intestines, and sadly, even the ingestion of toxic metals such as mercury.
These were all early attempts made by women to prevent pregnancy.
Fortunately, birth control methods have come a long way, starting with vulcanized rubber used in contraception as condoms during the 1920s.
What do contraception and advances in birth control have to do with dating? Good thing you asked!
Contraception now meant that women and men could have sex and be free to see each other without the end goal being marriage (and children).
As more and more women and men became free to have sex, dating became more and more popular for both sexes.
Men now had the advantage of having sex with women without having to worry about becoming fathers or husbands, and women were able to enjoy all the benefits of courtship and traditional chivalry while also exploring their sexual desires.
Now that you understand how dating originated and how the process turned from courtship to dating multiple people, this can help you understand the purpose of dating in today’s modern society.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that only 14% of people dating are looking for a serious relationship!
This might make you confused since dating has commonly been associated with finding a partner and marriage…right?
If you’ve learned anything from our history lesson above, you’ll know that dating is so much more than simply scouring the earth for a partner.
There are many reasons why people nowadays might date. This includes:
- Looking for friendship
- Looking for sex
- Looking for a casual relationship
- To have fun
- To help them socialize
- To help them know what they want out of a relationship
- To meet people of the same interests
As you can see from all the above reasons, there are lots of other reasons why people will want to date besides have sex or even meet someone for a full-blown committed relationship.
As someone entering the dating scene, it’s important to keep these reasons in mind. Knowing that dating can be done just for fun can help you prevent heartbreak later on.
You should ask whoever it is you’re dating what their motivations are. Are they here to have fun? Do they just want a casual hookup? Something serious?
Not only should you ask others what their motives are, but you should also be open and forthcoming about what you want out of dating.
If you’re seeing other people, this is also good information to share with your partner.
Being able to share that you’re seeing different people and aren’t looking for a relationship is important so you can save another person from heartbreak and letdown.
Around half of all adults in the United States believe dating has gotten more difficult for people during the past decade.
This might be due to the fact that people don’t understand what dating was originally intended to do – to open ourselves up to the freedom to explore ourselves and other people.
Keeping this in mind will help you have fun while dating instead of seeing it as a difficult task.
In addition, there are many ways to date people now besides meeting them at a speakeasy or even meeting them through mutual friends.
Although meeting people organically is possible, with the world’s new COVID-19 pandemic and increasing anxiety in general, it’s good to explore other options for dating.
A great way to meet new people for dates and for fun include using online apps such as:
There’s nothing wrong with using online dating apps, and there’s nothing wrong with letting people know your intentions in your profile!
From being upfront about just wanting to have fun to letting people know you want a serious commitment; online platforms are an excellent way to let others in the dating scene know where you stand without any awkward conversations.
Whether you’re a man or woman, there are loads of things you can do while dating to satisfy your partner and show them a good time.
You should, however, avoid doing any activities that make your partner uncomfortable when dating, such as meeting one’s parents, their friends, or even having sex on the first date.
On the other hand, there is virtually an endless amount of dating ideas you can take advantage of, such as:
- Going to a movie
- Going ice skating
- Taking a hike
- Meeting up for coffee
- Going to a club
- Going for drinks
- Visiting a museum
- Taking a boating trip
- Going skiing
You name it! The beautiful thing about dating is that there are no limits to what you can do for a first date.
This is quite different from the “courting” of the olden days, which involved a quiet dinner with the family at home…. nice.
Dating has lots of benefits. During dating, you can find out more about someone’s personality or even understand yourself better without having to be tied down with a commitment to marriage.
You are free to explore your sexuality, have fun, and explore the dating pool until you find your right mate.
By using online apps and a plethora of dating ideas in the modern world, you can take advantage of the freedom that comes with modern dating.
We owe it to our ancestors, who took the leap and changed courting from a boring, restrictive experience, to one that can create a lifetime of memories.