Dates

 

Tom Wolfe once implied in an interview that there was much to gauge about America by asking college-aged men how many dates they had to go on before … ya know. If we factor out boastfulness and put pretending he got honest answers to the side, he noticed a trend that developed from the sixties when he began asking. As decades passed, the responses went from five to four, three to two, to one, until, by the time he was researching for his third novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, the most common he received was, dates?…”

Anybody who knows anything about youth culture knows that dates are done for. For now, anyway.

Now the fact that Wolfe knew to frame the question that way already said something about how a patriotic skeptic understood our culture. Whether or not he put much stock in the idea that there was a burgeoning two Americas, I couldn’t say. But for now, the hookup scene is what’s happening. It’s an ick-fest for the bold; blech-y for the blacked out. It’s gross. Worst of all, it’s consensual.

*****

Bad as things are, it’s not what you think. There have never been more 25-year-old virgins in the history of Earth. It’s especially sad because I doubt there’s ever been a time when fellas have ever felt more shame for being virgins. “Incels” is what they’re called now. The prehistoric dilemma of all single dude-dom is supposedly noteworthy nowadays. It isn’t. The lack of work ethic is. But the lack of clear expectations preclude running on the wheel. For starters, it helps if someone sets up the carrot.

Even when we set aside super spreaders, the problem remains. Boys do not ask girls to accompany them to dinner and motion picture entertainment. If and when … ya know … happens, there isn’t much of period of time before … you get the idea. I can’t even say which is the bigger issue! It’s probably worse the way it all goes down when it goes down. But the rarity of it all isn’t entirely unrelated to Harry opting to become Sally.

From what I can see, the funky way of contemporary coupling goes thusly: young people go to bars or parties. Then they drink too much. In the process, they work up nerve. They pair up and “get outta here.” Happenings happen. A few months go by, parents visit town, and the girl works up another kind of nerve, soberly this time.

“Soooo … am I your girlfriend?”

Guy says, “Uh … yeah.”

It’s not the stuff “happily ever after” is made of.

I’m sure it’s not the whole thing, hopefully just a dismal tide. But this datelessness is worth penciling in, no? I wonder if young people could do each other right by agreeing to more reasonable expectations. I suspect they need to be told in order to have them in the first place. Perhaps sex education has been left to creeps – whether credentialed school board members who direct seventh-grade biology teachers or the pimply seventh graders who’ve been lying about their exploits since before they even earned pimples – for too long.

#savethedate

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  1. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    That’s the way it’s been in Ireland for all of my adult life. My parent’s generation would go to non alcoholic dances to hear showbands. These were basically cover bands but were enormously popular. Rory Gallagher even started out in one. At some point in the seventies they were replaced by discos and the pioneer movement also declined. 
    By the time I got to my teens the usual thing was to go to a disco, a random boy might ask you to dance which was code for snogging. Generally speaking most teenagers would have been drinking beforehand as in normal circumstances you would not want to be so physically close to a complete stranger. Now sometimes this did lead to seeing this person on an ongoing basis but more often than not the goal was just to get the shift. The idea of hook up culture was formed very young and was most young teenagers introduction to the world of ‘romance’ and sex.

    • #1
  2. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    I went to college in the 80’s.  Dating still existed, although it was on it’s way out. 

    • #2
  3. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    I went to college in the 70’s.  We dated like mad rabbits, except when studying to get into med school.

    • #3
  4. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Samuel Block:

    A few months go by, parents visit town, and the girl works up another kind of nerve, soberly this time.

    “Soooo…. am I your girlfriend?”

    Uh-oh.  The rest of them must have said no.

    • #4
  5. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I had no dating life until I got my license . . .

    • #5
  6. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Just to add to the above, I think the decline of dancing as a couple is significant. I remember one or other of my parents collecting me from the ‘dance’ as my poor dad still referred to it, and asking me if any boys had asked me to dance. I think I was 14 at the time. I probably said yes but no way! I remember being told not to hurt the boys feelings and then thinking, dancing has changed since your time mam. 

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I really enjoyed Foyle’s War, partly for the glimpse into English countryside life during the war. The guys were dressed up and had some money in their pocket, they felt good about themselves (all that discipline and clear sense of purpose, learning and mastering new things every day), they were used to socializing because they were in social situations all day with their fellow service men and women, and the communities, feeling sorry for the military having to live “so far from home,” organized “socials” with music and dancing. Dating and the baby boom ensued. :-) I wonder if there was a baby boom after World War I as well. :-)

    Foyle’s War made me realize how important those barn dances and church socials were in my grandparents’ day. My daughter was in the Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management (CREAM) program at the University of Vermont. It was the program that took care of an on-campus dairy herd. She and her friends were in the barn most of time. They learned square dancing as well as how to care for a dairy herd. :-) These were very focused kids who became lifelong friends. I’m sure there was dating in addition to the dancing. :-)

    Weddings do the same thing. Everyone is dressed up and having a great time, the wedding events last a weekend now, and dating among the guests soon follows. :-)

    I wonder what would happen if someone pulled the plug on the electricity that fuels the media every day? Are we getting our “social fix” just by watching social situations in the media?

     

     

    • #7
  8. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Stad (View Comment):

    I had no dating life until I got my license . . .

    A  License to Date?  Did it have your picture?

    • #8
  9. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    I had no dating life until I got my license . . .

    A License to Date? Did it have your picture?

    Don’t want to be stuck with a bad picture on that one.

    • #9
  10. Kephalithos Member
    Kephalithos
    @Kephalithos

    In the world of dating, there are no rules. It’s the wild west. Nobody knows what to expect. At one extreme of the spectrum are the guys and girls who throw themselves, naked, at anything that moves. In the middle are people who consider themselves tasteful and wouldn’t mind cohabitating or having some fun under the covers, so long as he makes six figures or she’s smart and cute, or whatever. At the other end are old-fashioned Christians “saving themselves” — likely forever. Others check out altogether and settle for porn, drugs, and video games.

    My experience has been that culturally conservative, religious Millennials/Gen Z-ers who want to lead lives of bourgeois virtue and do things the “right” way are risk-averse to the point of paralysis. Because there are no rules. And no institutional support for dating, either. It’s a miracle any marriages happen.

    You can gather 50 Catholics between the ages of 20 and 30 in a room every week for six months, and how many relationships will result? Z-e-r-o.

    • #10
  11. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I really enjoyed Foyle’s War, partly for the glimpse into English countryside life during the war. The guys were dressed up and had some money in their pocket, they felt good about themselves (all that discipline and clear sense of purpose, learning and mastering new things every day), they were used to socializing because they were in social situations all day with their fellow service men and women, and the communities, feeling sorry for the military having to live “so far from home,” organized “socials” with music and dancing. Dating and the baby boom ensued. :-) I wonder if there was a baby boom after World War I as well. :-)

    Foyle’s War made me realize how important those barn dances and church socials were in my grandparents’ day. My daughter was in the Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management (CREAM) program at the University of Vermont. It was the program that took care of an on-campus dairy herd. She and her friends were in the barn most of time. They learned square dancing as well as how to care for a dairy herd. :-) These were very focused kids who became lifelong friends. I’m sure there was dating in addition to the dancing. :-)

    Weddings do the same thing. Everyone is dressed up and having a great time, the wedding events last a weekend now, and dating among the guests soon follows. :-)

    I wonder what would happen if someone pulled the plug on the electricity that fuels the media every day? Are we getting our “social fix” just by watching social situations in the media?

    Yes to all the above re Foyle’s War.

    Before he got married, my dad loved going to dances. He and his friends would go all over the county to different dancehalls because he had a car which wasn’t the norm in the late 50’s early 60’s. He was very handsome and my brothers and I have since met old ladies who recalled dancing with him back then.

    He never drank or smoked and was a bit scornful of the men who needed either for a social crutch. It really wasn’t the thing to be a messy slobbering drunk at these things.

    • #11
  12. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I really enjoyed Foyle’s War, partly for the glimpse into English countryside life during the war.

    Great show!

    • #12
  13. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    “Hey, babe, you up for something nominally sophisticated yet decidedly pointless and impersonal?”

    I feel like the last 50 years were devoted to making things easier for lounge lizards. 

    In an earlier era, dating involved well-defined stages, repeat dates would evolve into “going steady”.  Symbolic advanced stage indicators such as giving a lavalier with the fraternity insignia were pre-engagement rituals in a process with rather well-defined expectations and behaviors. 

    Being “freed” from such things has often resulted in chaos and barbarism.  Are some kids really searching for their “real” sexual identity or just looking to flee ugly modern social realities?

     

    • #13
  14. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    The whole subject of dating is one that I view as a detached observer, because I managed never to experience it. My wife and I were friends for a year and a half before we even held hands, and by that point we already knew each other well. And neither of us had ever had a serious relationship before we met each other.

    Honestly, I always felt lucky for having avoided that whole experience. The idea of going on a first date with someone you don’t even know, evaluating their suitability as a romantic partner from the outset (could she be the one?) … that seems like an awful lot of pressure. How can you even enjoy dinner?

    On the other hand, though, at least the thought of a long-term commitment was part of the expectation. The emergence of hookup culture just makes me thankful that I was born when I was.

    • #14
  15. Ray Gunner Coolidge
    Ray Gunner
    @RayGunner

    The way I remember it (back in the Pleistocene), the purpose of dating was to test for marriageability.  I seems to me young people not dating is a function of young people not marrying.   What’s the point of dating in your 20s if you are not going to get serious about marriage until your 40s? 

    • #15
  16. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    I had no dating life until I got my license . . .

    A License to Date? Did it have your picture?

    Wait, don’t they have red flag laws?

    • #16
  17. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    This conversation is flabbergasting!  Until now I just assumed that those not dating were exceptions pretty much living on the left coast – well, except for a few reprobates.  My eyes have been opened, but I sure do wish they had remained closed.

    I thought my preference for arranged marriages and avoiding the dangers concomitant with dating made me a dinosaur but now I find I’m a dimetrodon at the very best. 😔

    • #17
  18. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I really enjoyed Foyle’s War, partly for the glimpse into English countryside life during the war. The guys were dressed up and had some money in their pocket, they felt good about themselves (all that discipline and clear sense of purpose, learning and mastering new things every day), they were used to socializing because they were in social situations all day with their fellow service men and women, and the communities, feeling sorry for the military having to live “so far from home,” organized “socials” with music and dancing. Dating and the baby boom ensued. :-) I wonder if there was a baby boom after World War I as well. :-)

    Foyle’s War made me realize how important those barn dances and church socials were in my grandparents’ day. My daughter was in the Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management (CREAM) program at the University of Vermont. It was the program that took care of an on-campus dairy herd. She and her friends were in the barn most of time. They learned square dancing as well as how to care for a dairy herd. :-) These were very focused kids who became lifelong friends. I’m sure there was dating in addition to the dancing. :-)

    Weddings do the same thing. Everyone is dressed up and having a great time, the wedding events last a weekend now, and dating among the guests soon follows. :-)

    I wonder what would happen if someone pulled the plug on the electricity that fuels the media every day? Are we getting our “social fix” just by watching social situations in the media?

     

     

    Side thought – would people pay extra to eat, drink, or dance in a Faraday cage? 

    • #18
  19. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    In the world of dating, there are no rules. It’s the wild west. Nobody knows what to expect. At one extreme of the spectrum are the guys and girls who throw themselves, naked, at anything that moves. In the middle are people who consider themselves tasteful and wouldn’t mind cohabitating or having some fun under the covers, so long as he makes six figures or she’s smart and cute, or whatever. At the other end are old-fashioned Christians “saving themselves” — likely forever. Others check out altogether and settle for porn, drugs, and video games.

    My experience has been that culturally conservative, religious Millennials/Gen Z-ers who want to lead lives of bourgeois virtue and do things the “right” way are risk-averse to the point of paralysis. Because there are no rules. And no institutional support for dating, either. It’s a miracle any marriages happen.

    You can gather 50 Catholics between the ages of 20 and 30 in a room every week for six months, and how many relationships will result? Z-e-r-o.

    This sounds like an opportunity for churches – it would serve them well to facilitate marriage by mixing young Catholics together, with ground rules to help. 

    And no, I have no idea how this would be done. 

    Eros is a powerful thing, and it used to be constrained by society by way of some variety of elders. It chafed. And no one misses chafing. 

    Now Eros is free of all the old constraints and perhaps the most bizarre thing it does is with this freedom is…nothing. Nothing at all. 

    I don’t know which young people to pity more. 

    • #19
  20. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Chuck (View Comment):

    This conversation is flabbergasting! Until now I just assumed that those not dating were exceptions pretty much living on the left coast – well, except for a few reprobates. My eyes have been opened, but I sure do wish they had remained closed.

    I thought my preference for arranged marriages and avoiding the dangers concomitant with dating made me a dinosaur but now I find I’m a dimetrodon at the very best. 😔

    +2 for Dimetrodon.   

    • #20
  21. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Dating at 50, after my first wife passed, was very very different than at 18-23, when I married her.  At 50-55 everyone was complex to the point of being nuts, but many women were willing to be quickly unchaste.  As one told me, hey, I’m pushing 60, I’ll take it while I can!

    • #21
  22. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Just to add to the above, I think the decline of dancing as a couple is significant. I remember one or other of my parents collecting me from the ‘dance’ as my poor dad still referred to it, and asking me if any boys had asked me to dance. I think I was 14 at the time. I probably said yes but no way! I remember being told not to hurt the boys feelings and then thinking, dancing has changed since your time mam.

    Yes! I don’t think there’s been good dancing music since the 80s. Most of my friends are musicians and I keep trying to tell them that America need’s a new New Wave. 

    • #22
  23. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Dating at 50, after my first wife passed, was very very different than at 18-23, when I married her. At 50-55 everyone was complex to the point of being nuts, but many women were willing to be quickly unchaste. As one told me, hey, I’m pushing 60, I’ll take it while I can!

    That’s adorable.  

    • #23
  24. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Kephalithos (View Comment):
    My experience has been that culturally conservative, religious Millennials/Gen Z-ers who want to lead lives of bourgeois virtue and do things the “right” way are risk-averse to the point of paralysis. Because there are no rules. And no institutional support for dating, either. It’s a miracle any marriages happen.

    You can gather 50 Catholics between the ages of 20 and 30 in a room every week for six months, and how many relationships will result? Z-e-r-o.

    Do these gatherings actually happen? And zero relationships is what happens?

    Interesting….

    But, yes, even before I heard that I knew the paralysis is a big issue.

    • #24
  25. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    In the world of dating, there are no rules. It’s the wild west. Nobody knows what to expect. At one extreme of the spectrum are the guys and girls who throw themselves, naked, at anything that moves. In the middle are people who consider themselves tasteful and wouldn’t mind cohabitating or having some fun under the covers, so long as he makes six figures or she’s smart and cute, or whatever. At the other end are old-fashioned Christians “saving themselves” — likely forever. Others check out altogether and settle for porn, drugs, and video games.

    My experience has been that culturally conservative, religious Millennials/Gen Z-ers who want to lead lives of bourgeois virtue and do things the “right” way are risk-averse to the point of paralysis. Because there are no rules. And no institutional support for dating, either. It’s a miracle any marriages happen.

    You can gather 50 Catholics between the ages of 20 and 30 in a room every week for six months, and how many relationships will result? Z-e-r-o.

    Yes that’s true.  
    With Catholics, there’s some that just take it too far. I remember a woman I used to meet from time to time at pro life groups and we’d be talking  and she would always bring up chastity and how nothing would ever come right if we didn’t have more of it. Now I’ve never claimed to be a good Catholic so if you ask me chastity is like most things, alright in moderation. 

    • #25
  26. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Just to add to the above, I think the decline of dancing as a couple is significant. I remember one or other of my parents collecting me from the ‘dance’ as my poor dad still referred to it, and asking me if any boys had asked me to dance. I think I was 14 at the time. I probably said yes but no way! I remember being told not to hurt the boys feelings and then thinking, dancing has changed since your time mam.

    Yes! I don’t think there’s been good dancing music since the 80s. Most of my friends are musicians and I keep trying to tell them that America need’s a new New Wave.

    Do you mean music for couples to dance to or just good jumping around with your  friend  tunes? (The latter being the only move I have 😂)

    • #26
  27. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    How do dating websites and apps fit into this?  I guess those are for people who are slightly older to much older?

     

    • #27
  28. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Except for the fact that I wouldn’t be here, there is one dance I wished my Mom had never gone to.  

    • #28
  29. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    How do dating websites and apps fit into this? I guess those are for people who are slightly older to much older?

     

    Tinder would be mostly for 20’s and 30’s. I’ve a 16 year old friend who tells me there’s a dating app for teenagers which just sounds wrong. 
    I’ve tried some of them but I’ve never enjoyed it, it soon feels like a series of job interviews for a job you don’t really want.

    • #29
  30. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    You can gather 50 Catholics between the ages of 20 and 30 in a room every week for six months, and how many relationships will result? Z-e-r-o.

    What would the gender distribution be?  

    • #30
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