A courtship catastrophe!
By Viv Steele, Professional Speed Dater
Check the news, kids. Dating’s dead.
Of all the criticisms levied against dating throughout its history (it’s expensive, it’s clichéd, there aren’t enough naked boobs), perhaps the proverbial nail in the coffin for the antiquated social ritual comes in the form of a recent New York Times article titled “The end of courtship?” The article posits that “hookup culture,” and its slightly more homely cousin online dating have left the youth of North America in such a confused state that they don’t even know what “dating” is, much less how to take a person on one.
Dates have been replaced by “hangs,” or “meet ups,” or “hookups.” A casual survey would suggest that very few of my peers have even been on a classic date, like the kind where Archie picks up Veronica in his jalopy and they go for dinner. No, a date these days looks a little more like Betty showing up to the bar to meet up with Archie, but he’s there with Veronica and Reggie, and Archie’s all like, “Oh hey babe these are my friends.” And then Betty goes home and tweets about it and then maybe posts a poem to her Tumblr about how she’s not sure how Archie feels about her and how she wishes things were simple like they used to be back in Riverdale.
So, writers left and right are decrying this death of dating. Shows like The Mindy Project poke fun at hooking up (when trying to find a potential hookup, the lead character is advised that “The key, Mindy, is to find someone you’re attracted to, but you don’t respect and you can’t see a future with”), and shows like Girls portray an uncertain romantic landscape where just being someone’s “main hang,” as Adam calls Hannah, is enough to consider yourself a mortgage holder in relationship city.
But I don’t think this cultural shift is necessarily a bad thing. Navigating this crazy new world of dating can be daunting, but at least it’s easy to develop a decent set of red flags, based on the reported behaviour of noted creeps. If a potential partner is being shady about other lovers, if they only want to see you once a week at like midnight (or only text you when they’re drunk), if you’ve never met their friends, or if you only hang out with their friends, then there is a good chance that this Romeo is not the one you’re going to grow old with.
I’ve written about fuck friends here before, and my opinion remains the same: people these days are overwhelmingly busy and also horny. The face of relationships has changed to reflect that. Traditional dating is going out the window as we’re trying to fit more things onto our Blackberry calendars every day. Maybe what we need, as a society, is a road map for this brave new world and some accepted social guidelines for this crazy thing we call courtship. So maybe dating’s not dead, maybe it’s not just sleeping. Maybe it’s evolving.