It’s a question I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now, and after reading this weekend’s New York Times article, “The End of Courtship,” I’m losing hope. I’ve always thought that chivalry was on its way out the door. When I’m lifting my carry-on bag into the overhead compartment, men just watch. I know I looked jacked, but lend a hand.
But dating is its own beast. If you haven’t read the article, I highly recommend it. The writer, Alex Williams, hits the nail right on the head. As a single 26 year-old woman living in New York City, I can’t help but relate to this on many levels.
Back in college, dating was non-existent. In four years, I was asked on one date – a movie. At Florida State, if a guy was interested in you, he’d ask you to a date function, possibly treat you to a bagel in the morning and ask you to meet up at Potbelly’s or Bajas the following weekend. As girls, we accepted that because it was considered normal. The scary part is, not much has changed.
Five years later, guys are still getting away with this. Why? Because we let them. Dating is a dying art, but only because we’re allowing it to happen. After posting the NYT article on my Facebook page, one of my funnier male friends wrote this:
So Jen, uh, going to be w a bunch of friends Friday and Saturday nights, not sure where but I’ll keep you posted, so I might, just maybe, shoot you a text sometime after 11 each of the nights (or neither). If I do text you, you should immediately drop what you’re doing and come meet us wherever we happen to be (again, I don’t know where yet – geez it’s only Monday). You can even bring Gina. If you don’t hear from me, though, just sit tight and wait for a similarly vague and non-committal fb message next week, which you should expect around the middle of the week. Let me know if this works. Have a good week!
Although poking fun, it’s scary close to the new normal.
Most guys, from ages 25-30, aren’t interested in taking women on proper dates. They’d rather meet up at a bar with their friends, have a few drinks and hope they’ll get lucky. Seems simple enough, but I want to know more.
Why does a guy text a girl at midnight on the weekend, hoping she’ll come to the bar for a few drinks instead of spending the night having dinner and sharing a bottle of wine? Because it works and because he can. Because if she’s not interested, someone else will be. Another friend, Steve, said he knows people that sleep with 2-3 girls each week, “cutting and pasting the same text message to 40 girls. NYC offers volume. You don’t need to be selective. ” So what about a girl rejecting the midnight text message? Taking the higher road and suggesting dinner on the weekend instead? “Most guys won’t deal with that. It screams high maintenance.”
Money also seems to be a big factor. “More and more guys don’t want to take girls out because of the expense NYC creates. A typical date is going to cost you $200 for the night. Assume you sleep with her on the third date… You’ve just spent $600 for sex,” he said.
So is it all about sex? Is that the end game? Maybe that’s part of the problem. Men are looking for sex and women are looking for a partner.
Part of it does make some sense. Do you want to spend $200 on someone that you might not hit it off with? What if it’s a complete failure? Social media and the internet have completely changed everything. Years ago, people knew the bare minimum going into a first date – maybe age, career, and where someone lived. Now, you know everything. Everyone is vetting their dates through Facebook beforehand, so when you ask how many siblings someone has on a first date, chances are you already know. And not only do you know the answer is one brother and one sister, you know their ages and you’ve seen photos. You’re able to see how many friends in common you have, which allows for quizzing mutual friends to make sure they all agree that the date is worth your while. You can ask your date what their hobbies and interests are, but you already saw photos of their trip around Europe last summer and know their favorite sports teams.
Is dinner becoming too serious? With all of the expenses and pressure involved, does it give the wrong impression? My friend from college, Paul, said he doesn’t go on dates for fear of sending the wrong message to a girl. With a busy schedule and job, a serious relationship isn’t in the cards for him right now. So why spend all of that money and get someone’s hopes up?
The NYT article says, “Young people don’t know how to get out of the hook up culture.” It’s true. In college, people fall victim to hooking up, sleepovers and a “pack” mentality in the new world of dating. And learned behavior is apparently not very easy to rid yourself of. Having someone spend the night isn’t uncommon or frowned upon in the early stages of dating, whether or not sex is involved. But when did that become acceptable? Is this it?
Paul noted that it’s probably tough for some guys to break out of the mold. In college, it was acceptable to be 21 years old and sleep with anyone you wanted. But now as they’re becoming men, they’re expected to behave themselves and respect a woman’s boundaries.
And technology doesn’t help the death of dating. Text messages have replaced most human interactions and have become an acceptable way to ask someone out. In the past year, only one of my dates has actually picked up the telephone and asked me out.
So, what will happen when a woman puts her foot down? If I were to make the rule that whenever I received the 11 p.m. “let’s hang out” text message that I’d respond and suggest dinner instead that weekend, how many of the guys would go running for the hills? And should I be okay with that because I’m likely weeding out guys that aren’t looking for something more substantial?
I can’t speak for others, but I’m not high maintenance. Personally, I like creativity. A guy doesn’t have to choose the fanciest and trendiest spot in town. Believe me… I’d much rather share a bottle of wine, check out a dive restaurant that’s inexpensive and known for the tastiest and sloppiest Mexican food in NYC. Grab a deal on Groupon or Gilt City. I won’t be offended; instead I’ll appreciate the effort.
Maybe the only way to save dating is in the hands of 20-something women. Maybe it’s not something anyone can save. Is this the new normal?