(A conversation about the state of courtship through the generations.)
Last week I did a radio interview that aired on Valentine’s Day about the topic “Is courtship dead and gone or just evolving?” You can check it out here (that’s edited me at the 13:45 mark for about 20 seconds). I emailed the link to my parents and happened to go visit them the day it came out. We talked about the state of modern dating and it was fascinating to get the perspective of an older generation witnessing what’s going on with the world of singles. We discussed the ambiguity of text messaging, bar culture, feminism, man-childs, and it was interesting to see that they had a hard time accepting some aspects of modern courtship. Later, when driving home I had the sobering thought, “is right now the worst time ever to be dating”?
Technology is advancing faster than we can evolve as human beings. Our social skills are being dulled from underuse and reliance on our cell phones. We can’t sit at a meal, wait for the subway, watch a concert, or talk to our friends without glancing at our 4” screen. Cell phones are a drug that is ruining our ability to deal with awkward, easily the most crippling emotion when meeting the opposite sex for the first time. First time encounters are clunky and often lack the effortless witty banter you see in movies. And we need to push past this awkward to get to the good stuff. So it seems that we’re not meeting potential mates in person anymore. Then again, why would you risk putting yourself out there when you can just go through a J. Crew catalog of human beings called online dating. Complicate all of that with blurred gender lines and complaints that women aren’t women anymore and men aren’t men anymore and now what are we supposed to do? It’s a miracle that anyone gets together. I don’t blame you for getting back with your ex or having a “friend with benefits” situation. So are we just completely screwing our selves over? Is the reason you’re single your own fault?
For the sake argument, let’s say all of the above is true. Then complaining about it isn’t going to change anything. That’s like complaining that the media is warping our idea of beauty. Even if that’s true it doesn’t matter, you complaining isn’t going to change it for you. In feudal Japan they had arranged marriages. In Elizabethan times if a lady dropped her kerchief that was flirting. In the 1920s a man would propose to a dame after only three Manhattans. So maybe this strange and rocky neo-courtship is just further change. Maybe we’re just being paranoid about the apparent downfall of tradition for no reason. Maybe courtship is merely just evolving.
In the meantime, if you’re that unhappy about being single then you should figure out the strategy of what you can do to change that. You need to start working on bettering yourself, lowering your expectations (not your standards), and giving more people a chance. If a relationship is that important to you, then you need to do everything in your power to make it happen, and it starts with you looking in the mirror. Nothing that’s worth in life is going to be just handed to you, especially love.
[Photo: Street art in Silverlake.]