The summer after my graduation from college, I found myself lounging on a friend’s couch in her apartment in Brookline, MA with one of my best friends from college, watching an episode of Sex and the City. The mood I was in that day, or state of mind I inhabited at that stage of my life, caused me to utter the sentence, I never want to go on a first date.
A year and a half later, I have the complete opposite desire. Wait, what? Now I want to go on a date? Panic moment: Oh my Gawd, am I growing up? And now I’m sweating.
Though my feelings towards dates have come full circle, I understand my past self, fresh off the college hookup life—a life tinted with freedom and constant chants of “YOLO”. Sitting at a restaurant table across from someone I didn’t know, forcing dull conversation, seemed awkward and boring. Wasn’t it more fun, and easier, to get drunk with some girlfriends and then fall into bed with a guy without giving it any thought? Perhaps. In the moment, it may feel like the highest standard of living. But the aftermath? I, at least, have experienced low self-esteem and awkwardness.
As a twenty-four year-old living in Boston, I have no problem admitting that I’ve never been on a date. And no, CVS at 3 a.m. to buy chips and pizza rolls doesn’t count, although it’s the closest thing to a one-on-one date I’ve ever experienced.
I don’t say any of this to encourage sympathy. I say it because it is unfortunately the reality that twenty something women currently face. To answer the question, “Is this the end of courtship?” I say yes, yes it is. Gone are the days of wooing a woman with a nice dinner, a movie, and a doorstep kiss goodnight – gestures I’ve only witnessed in movies. Instead, they are replaced by drinks, cab ride fares, and possibly a drunk late-night snack. Though many may enjoy the male attention swag, I’ve found that it does very little for our self-esteems and hopes for romantic futures. To me, a free drink no longer says, “I think you’re pretty and interesting and would like to get to know you on a personal level so that we can someday be in a relationship;” It says, “I want to get you in bed.” Though it may be the goal of many twenty something men, it is certainly not a goal of mine. Call me crazy, but I’d like a man to like me for me, not for my physical appearance.
One of my best friends sent me this New York Times article the other day, urging me to read it. It completely encompasses the struggle that twenty something girls endure daily, with a brief explanation of why romance seems to be dying off.
Honestly, I believe that women are some of the biggest culprits in this romance-deprived phenomenon. Because of its prevalence, we accept the downgrade in treatment from men and keep our disappointments to ourselves, fearing deviance from the now-implemented social norm. The solution becomes problematic when we acknowledge that a shift back to romantic gestures as commonplace behavior in the early stages of dating would require an entire gender to take a stand against our current sexual propositions. And I can understand that perhaps a solid amount of young women only crave something casual. Half the time, I am one of those women. I must admit, the present dating culture can be fun! My twenties seems to be my reckless phase, after all.
Yet here I am, often times fed up after only a year of effortless get-togethers with men, yearning for something that repulsed me the second I left college: a good old-fashioned date. And I know I’m not alone. I will also acknowledge that there are some “real men” out there who will put effort into planning a date, so I’ve heard. Unfortunately, those men have become rarities, and the practice needs to become more common. Courtship died out once, and I can only hope that whatever era dating has entered will eventually die too, bringing life to a more positive dating culture. Until then, I’m just going to embrace modern times and enjoy the company of the men in my life. Whether they buy me dinner or not, they’re pretty great, and I know I’m lucky to have them in my life.
P.S. – Happy Valentine’s Day!
IN THE COMMENTS:
Do you think that this is “the end of courtship?”