New York Times Article: “The End of Courtship?”

dinner lights

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!


Do you think that this is “the end of courtship?”


11 thoughts on “New York Times Article: “The End of Courtship?”

  1. And you know what — the generation before you is partly to blame for this. And, as a forty-something looking back over my shoulder at my twenty-something days, I can admit to only being on a few actual dates myself.

    Great food for thought!

  2. I think this is all very well put. I think that there are many girls out there who have conformed to the idea that men are going to use them and that is ok because they pretend the feelings are mutual. “Once and toss”. But, and men can deny it as much as they want, [especially at this age] they want to have someone too. In the end everyone just wants someone. The reality of today is with apps like ‘tinder’, and online dating in general for that matter, it goes to show that the pure definition of “courtship” has changed completely. — Now-a-days, going onto an app that is connected to facebook, looking at people and choosing if you “like them or not” is based on how they look in a photo that they chose, talking to them through messages and texting then maybe, possibly going on a “date” most likely through facetime is now considered “courtship”.
    But going back to the original question, if you are asking if courtship like you see in the movies is still alive, rarely. Everyone wants to be the exception and they deserve to be, but then they would just be the majority.

    1. You make an excellent point. No one wants to care more than the other, so everyone pretends not to, just to be on the safe side. I agree that the definition of courtship has changed, especially with all the technology available today; the article touches on that. And yes, everyone does deserve to be the exception. Step one to getting what we want is believing we deserve it.

  3. Woman are constantly being accused of being “too clingy” that I think as a gender we have tried to prove that we can be just like the guys- wanting only a casual “hook up”, no string attached. As a result, girls as a whole are not only accepting poor treatment from men, but are encouraging it, all in the pursuit of proving to the male species that we aren’t crazy, stage-five clingers, desperate for a relationship. There needs to be a line between proving we aren’t clingy and losing all respect for ourselves.

  4. Okay, first of all this is awesome. Second of all I have thoughts. Don’t expect proper grammar you english/ creative writing majors, think of this as stream of consciousness here haha. I think you are right that courtship is falling out of style, but I think we would be lying to ourselves if we said that this was something new. There have been decades of casual dating and one night stands preceding us (ask your parents haha).

    First things first if people want to have casual meaningless sex and don’t feel degraded or disrespected by those encounters then do your thing and get some. I think we need to respect that some people actually can have a brief consenting fun sexual encounter that is not damaging to their self-respect or feelings about love and relationships. These people are very rare, but they exist. As for everyone else who doesn’t want that, we settle for meaningless relationships because we assume that they are better than no relationships. We justify and convince ourselves that it is what we actually want. Which is completely flawed and of course ends in hurt feelings of self loathing and a degrading of our sense of worth.

    I think the biggest thing is that we all have lost our patience. Its unfair to say guys or girls are responsible for this, I think there are plenty of people, both men and women, who want serious relationships and just can’t handle the lack of instant gratification. EVERYTHING we do is on fast forward, we fast forward through commercials, text our friends and get a response back immediately, have a question then look it up on our phone and there is the answer. We don’t ever have to wait for anything… like ever. So when we want something like being in a relationship, we want it now. We want to feel loved and desired and cared for and physically pleased. So we don’t wait, we force it. We find someone suitable and they instantly fill the little void inside us that can’t stand to be alone for one more second. Then when they are gone we feel empty because there was no foundation for those feelings to stand on. I think the real way to maintain the idea of courting is to respect that you may need to get to know someone to KNOW them just as a human being before getting to know someone as a potential partner. Whatever we are looking for is what we find, so if I want someone to be boyfriend material I’ll probably overlook some things or manipulate other things about their life and personality to make it align with what I want in a partner. Because the goal is to find a boyfriend. I think if we take a step back and try to get to know people genuinely without expectation, then the ones who we are compatible with make themselves known to us over quality time spent together without trying to present ourselves in a certain way. This is really hard, it is work and its not a popular strategy. It involves a ton of waiting and often feeling really lonely. However if we want honest, healthy relationships, lets dial it back and keep it real and let love happen organically. My opinions, feel free to disagree 🙂

    1. You always make me think in a healthy way. STOP THAT! Haha no but really thank you 🙂

      Really good point about the instant gratification aspect. I love technology, but that’s a another example of how it has negatively affected personal relationships. As impatient as I am about EVERYTHING, as you know, I think they key to surviving this era is to simply enjoy our time with others, be them romantic interests or friends. I think everyone should “keep it real” because most people are pretty awesome. It’s when we’re trying to hard to come off a certain way that we sometimes become unappealing. In my opinion, everyone should start off wanting something casual because at that point we don’t know ther person well enough to want anything more. We can want relationships, but if we want them with people before we know them, it’s not about the people anymore, it’s about the idea of being in a relationship. We should project into the future less and enjoy spending time with people in the present.

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