Despite What You Heard, Courtship is NOT Over.

A New York Times article called The End of Courtship? suggested that changing gender roles hookup culture, and texting was completely destroying dating and courtship.

Now, I’m no fan of texting, but I firmly believe in smart, strong, successful women and hooking up. Which is why I was somewhat surprised that one of the better rebuttals to my favorite newspaper came from a feminist site that once wrote the nastiest things about me in 2007.

You’re treated how you allow yourself to be treated.

But hey, good writing is good writing. The author, Jill, asserts largely the same thing that I assert here: you’re treated how you allow yourself to be treated. If you’re the woman who agrees to communicate exclusively via text, hook up when ever he suggests, and not insist upon commitment, then you will have a very different worldview from a woman who insists that men call, plan and pay for dates, and commit before sex. But this doesn’t mean that courtship is in crisis. It’s just different.

“Communication is especially different, since now we have cellphones and social media — we do indeed use those things to communicate. And yes, changing gender roles mean that women don’t have to sit around waiting to be asked out, and that we get to pick what we order for ourselves off the menu. Certain aspects of dating are more casual, because people date for many more years before getting hitched. We tend to date many more people. We’re more mobile and often live away from our parents, which means we cultivate local “families” in our social circles. We don’t just want to see how well our partners get along with our biological families; we want to see how well they get along with our friends, and if we share the same values and social preferences.”

So, even though our processes may be more complicated and create more points of friction, these options help us ultimately end up in a better place than our predecessors:

“People who delay marriage until they’re in their 30s or later (and, one assumes, end up dating a wider variety of people) tend to have happier and more stable marriages once they do get married. Getting to try out lots of ways of dating — more formal dinners, first-date drinks, casual romances — can teach you quite a bit about your own preferences and desires. And a diversity of dating models means that you can pick and choose what works for you at any given time: If you’re focused on work and just want to have a little fun you can cultivate a consistent hook-up; if you want to party and meet a ton of new people you can do that; or if you’re relationship-focused you can do what the woman at the end of the piece does, and refuse to waste time with people who aren’t going to be similarly formal about dating.”

Yep. That’s pretty much what I’ve been saying here for years. Too bad Feministe still probably thinks I’m a misogynist, even though my life is dedicated to helping women create happy relationships. Guess that’s what you get when you tell women how to adjust to reality instead of blaming men for everything that’s wrong in the world. C’est la vie.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jenna

    When I read that NYT article a few weeks ago I was baffled – it doesn’t match my reality as a 28-year-old. Since college I haven’t had an issue getting a guy to pick me, take me on a date, and call. Sure, sometimes they will ask to do something at the last minute, or text, but I’m never free at the last minute, and playfully remind them that I like being called, so that’s not really an issue consistently. When men want to watch a movie together at his place on the first date I just don’t engage. Some of my male friends ridicule this as too old fashioned, and they commit to girls who never required real dates and slept with them quickly, but that personally doesn’t feel right to me so I avoid it unless I don’t particularly care about the guy. 
    But it’s true that people treat you how you allow yourself to be treated. Men will either rise to your standards or , if they’re not serious, you’ll find out more quickly. 

  2. 2
    Me

    “Guess that’s what you get when you tell women how to adjust to reality instead of blaming men for everything that’s wrong in the world. C’est la vie.” – LOLOLOL Evan I love you! 

  3. 3
    Michelle

    Right on Jenna!  Thank you for confirming what I believe to be the reality for a lot if not most young people. 

    You mention the men ‘commit’, I’m assuming you mean to a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship?  I’m wondering if these men would commit to these women as their wives and future mother of their children?

  4. 4
    kiesh

    Yeah, that NYT article was full of complaints from low-expectation having women. I just laughed when I read it.
    “Guess that’s what you get when you tell women how to adjust to reality” Yeah, but sometimes women DO get tired of being told to adjust to male attitudes and behavior in order to have fulfilling relationships.

  5. 5
    EM

    Jenna, question, I would love to know how you “playfully” remind them that you like to be called? I have tried to, but I don’t think the words I’m putting out there are being taken seriously.
    Also when “men want to watch a movie together at his place on the first date I just don’t engage” , do you just tell them no thank you? or let them know its not your style?
     

  6. 6
    Jenna

    Michelle – I meant commit as in bf/gf. My observation of my generation has been that men hew less to some of the traditional rules described in this blog, and if they really like a girl they like her, it’s not because she waitEd for sex or leaned back. I’m not as traditional myself, but for God’s sake, I don’t want to be treated like fast food either. 
    Em – if they ask me out via text more than once I’ll reply kind of joking that I’m an old fashioned girl who feels more comfortable arranging dates over the phone, that usually works. Some of them have been relived, saying they don’t like texting but other girls will only text and don’t like calls. 
    When a guy (who I met at a bar) took me on a date for drinks and asked politely afterwards if I wanted to come up and watch a movie I politely thanked him and said it was getting late — we ended things well. 
    I still think that being too formal with dating and sex and “rules” can hinder forming a genuine connection, so people should experiment and see what feels comfortable to them. But you should have some standards to see if a guy is willing to invest in you and put in some effort. 

  7. 7
    Jackie Holness

    The man who really wants to be with a particular woman will do what he has to in order to win that woman’s affection…has always been true…will always be true…courtship is soo not over unless a woman allows it to be…

  8. 8
    Chance

    kiesh (#4) said:

    ” ‘Guess that’s what you get when you tell women how to adjust to reality’ Yeah, but sometimes women DO get tired of being told to adjust to male attitudes and behavior in order to have fulfilling relationships”

    Learning how to adjust (within reason) to the attitudes and behavior of other people is one of the primary keys to being successful in the dating.  Men have to adjust to the attitudes and behaviors of women if they want to be successful, just as women have to adjust.  It’s the only thing you can control.  Hell, the only way that I been successful at anything in life was by adjusting.

  9. 9
    Yuri

    I completely agree with you, Evan.  I very much know what I deserve and should expect with men emotionally.  I believe if you make yourself so easily accessible that a man doesn’t have to work to earn you, then he doesn’t have to start later on if he’s already got you.  I’ve got far too many options to waste my time on a guy who’s not willing to expend his efforts on me.  That’s never been my style.
    And I’m not stating that women should be putting their p**** on a pedestal, so the saying goes.  Just know that it holds some value, and if you want it to be valued, you have to make it less accessible.  Diamonds aren’t valued because they’re easy to find.  If you’re a catch, you have to let him catch you.

  10. 10
    Michelle

    Exactly Yuri, understanding men (first off understanding they are not hairy women) is key.  In general, men will always take the easy route to get what they want (if she makes it easy, he’ll take it; if she shows a bit of resistance, and he really likes her, like Jackie said, he’ll pursue and enjoy the ‘win’), and more greatly value what they have to work for.  

    This is the dance of love, it’s something to enjoy and be celebrated, it’s fun. 

    Jenna, I would wonder long term if those men actually marry those women who never held them to a higher standard in regard to dating and courtship.  And higher standard means not sleeping together on the first date (maybe the third :), and didn’t ‘expect’ real dates (which doesn’t mean expensive dates by any means).

  11. 11
    Anita

    Can someone explain to me what’s wrong with feminism again? Personally, I like voting, getting (almost) equal pay for equal work, and having access to the same education as everyone else (as in, guys). And I kinda think that offices are nicer places to work for everyone when the big boss man isn’t allowed to talk about your body parts or say derogatory things about the group you belong to or come on to you as if taking that is part of your job. And I kinda think that marriages are probably better now that women in every state legally have the right to say no to sex with their husbands if they don’t want it that night. And I think that birth control is a fantastic thing. As are women-specific medical studies that acknowledge that female bodies have different sorts of issues that don’t have anything to do with the way that male bodies work, even if we’re talking about the same body part. And I kinda think that a government should be representative of all of the people it governs and not just one half.
    But that’s just me. I know–freaky!!

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Anita, I’ve got a long answer for you, but I’ll keep it short. There’s nothing wrong with the feminism that has promoted equality. Nor did I ever suggest that there is. But just because feminism has made extraordinary and necessary gains for women doesn’t mean that it’s unassailable as an institution. Spend any time on feminist sites and you see a lot of reflexive man-bashing. I should know: I’ve been one of those men who’s been bashed, even though I’m one of the few men who devote their lives to helping women exclusively in their pursuit of love. I’m not critical of the gains made by feminism; I’m critical of the women who automatically think “woman: good, man: bad”. And, unfortunately, there’s a few of them who would rather shoot first and ask questions later. That’s all I’m talking about. Snarky responses like yours which seem to suggest (quite falsely) that I’m critical of equality don’t further the cause.

  12. 12
    kiesh

    At Chance, in which ways do men adjust? I’m genuinely curious because that hasn’t been my experience.

  13. 13
    Tom10

    Michelle #10
    “Understanding they [men] are not hairy women”
     
    Brilliant.
     
    “This is the dance of love, it’s something to enjoy and be celebrated, it’s fun.”
     
    I agree 100%; particularly that it should be fun. Life should be fun.
     
    Kiesh #12
    “In which ways do men adjust?”
     
    These are the attitudes and behaviours I had to adjust to have success with women:
    – I had to cultivate an easy-going, smiley, outgoing personality even though I was naturally fairly quiet, shy and introverted.
    – I had to work on my self-esteem – women don’t like insecure guys.
    – I had to banish any possessive, jealous or paranoid thoughts– women find these unattractive.
    – I had to deal with my depression – women prefer men in a healthy mental state.
    – I had to develop an ambition and drive for success – although these are primarily for myself, women prefer guys with these characteristics.
    – I had to learn how to drink sensibly and in moderation – women aren’t too fond of drunks.
    – I had to learn how to deal with repeated rejection without getting bitter or angry.
     
    The changes that I actually found more difficult were aesthetic:
    – My hair – women weren’t mad about my natural ‘scarecrow’ look.
    – My clothes and style – I have zero interest in these so I had to work really hard to know what looks good on me and what doesn’t – this process was excruciating.
    – Grooming and hygiene – if I had no interest in women I would probably allow myself look like a yeti.
    – My body – I’m naturally quite skinny so I had to ‘fill out’.
     
    I’m sure there are more that I’m not aware of – it’s an on-going, gradual process.
     

     
    I agree with Evan and Jenna #1; “people treat you how you allow yourself to be treated.” My boss has a fierce temper and I’ve witnessed him tearing colleagues to shreds. However, he knows that if he treated me that way I’d resign the next day, so he manages to contain himself when I mess up. I.e. he values me too much to disrespect me.

  14. 14
    Michelle

    The problem with radical feminism is the doctrine seeks to gain (women) while destroying something else (men).  That’s not win/win, that’s win/lose, which is not constructive.

    Men adjust all the time, when they are interested in gaining something.  Otherwise, they don’t.  Men strive to be efficient with their resources.  A trait many women might want to consider adopting more often.

  15. 15
    Karl R

    Chance, (#8)
    You said almost everything I was going to say. Men either adjust to the woman, or they have to move on and find someone else. The same rule applies to both.
     
    kiesh asked: (#12)
    “in which ways do men adjust? I’m genuinely curious because that hasn’t been my experience.”
     
    You probably don’t recognize it when it happens.
     
    I tend to arrive early to events. My wife is chronically late. Therefore, we are chronically late. It’s not worth chronic fights just to try to change her.
     
    I’m not crazy about pets. Most of them trigger my allergies. All of them require constant effort. But many single people keep pets. It’s unreasonable for me to expect that a woman would get rid of her pet just to date me. Instead, I increased my antihistamine use and coped. My wife has a dog and 3 parrots.
     
    Many women expect the man to pay for the first date, even if they offer to pay or offer to split the bill. Therefore, I always insisted on paying.
     
    A previous girlfriend wanted lots of kids. I didn’t want any. We realized that it was a bad idea to change each other, so we went our separate ways.
     
    Michelle asked: (#10)
    “I would wonder long term if those men actually marry those women who never held them to a higher standard in regard to dating and courtship.”
     
    I know quite a few men who did.
     
    A lot of courtship has to do with the age, financial resources and personal preferences of the people involved. I like to go to certain live shows. I like having company when I do. Therefore, I still go on dates with my wife.
     
    Yuri said: (#9)
    “if you want it to be valued, you have to make it less accessible.  Diamonds aren’t valued because they’re easy to find.”
     
    Diamonds are valued because they have incredible industrial uses, and some of them look very attractive. In addition, the price has been artificially inflated through market manipulation. They aren’t as rare as you think.
     
    Pol Pot’s poop is more rare than diamonds, but it’s still just a pile of crap.
     
    Yuri said: (#9)
    “I believe if you make yourself so easily accessible that a man doesn’t have to work to earn you, then he doesn’t have to start later on if he’s already got you.”
     
    Let me describe the last woman who didn’t make me “work” to “earn” her.
    We were initially hanging out with each other for the company.
    Our first “dates” didn’t cost anything.
    Only one of the early dates was planned in advance.
    We had sex before the end of the first week.
    Both of us understood there was no promise of exclusivity.
     
    Fast-forward a few years: She’s now my wife.
     
    If I don’t think a woman is good LTR material (for me), an obstacle course of hoops and hurdles won’t change my mind. She’s still not right for me. However, an obstacle course of hoops and hurdles will convince me not to waste time having a fling with a woman who is not LTR material.
     
    For many women, that’s a sufficient reason to put up the hoops and hurdles.

  16. 16
    Fusee

    Like previous commenters I agree with Evan‘s statement: “You’re treated how you allow yourself to be treated”. It’s been the life lesson of my twenties, really, and not only in dating but in my professional life, and in my family relationships and friendships as well.
     
    As I learned about my values and boundaries I flipped-flapped a little between passivity and agressivity until I found my very own perfect assertive way of handling every relationship. It’s been with dating and family that the results have been the most striking. I earned respect and build solid relationships, and I even inspired people to treat themselves and others better in the process.
     
    In dating, like Karl R wrote, playing hard to get is not going to make a self-respecting partner more interested. However having a good sense of one’s goals, values, and standards will earn the respect and understanding of someone who is on the same page.

  17. 17
    Jenna

    I totally agree with Karl, and it’s something that at times gets confused in the comments — a guy is not going to like me more because I made him wait for sex and had some higher standards about going on real dates and let him pursue. That never helped increase the likelihood a guy was going to commit to me, in my experience — Some of that is really just for yourself, to screen the guy and protect yourself physically and emotionally and remind yourself of your own value. I know that with the right guy he wouldn’t care that I slept with him quickly, and just hung out casually at first, but if I did that with every guy i’d be an emotional wreck! 

  18. 18
    Fusee

    I totally agree with you, Jenna @1 and 18. It’s more about self-care than trying to increase the guy’s interest level by making him “work” for a prize. However if self-care and values happen to involve more complex standards, it will not discourage the man who is truly interested and willing to compromize, as long as such standards make sense to him and are communicated adequately (clearly and firmly, but with some humor as well as Jenna said @1).
     
    A friend of mine kept her man’s interest (and her own) through multiple years of dating with the following complexities: no sex before marriage, long-distance over two different continents, 9 hours of time difference for phone calls, and few visits involving sleeping in different rooms. It was not his dream to date his future wife that way, but they found a way to make it work despite him being so far from the USA for a long time and not being allowed to have sex, and they are now happily married and parents of a little boy. That’s a little extreme, and of course she is a heck of a wife, and he knew that before even asking her out, but it demonstrates that it’s perfectly fine to increase the standards, not for the sake of “making him work”, but for the sake of building a solid relationship that fulfill one’s values and life goals.

    1. 18.1
      The Realist

      Your friend is an anomaly, and it leaves me to wonder what was the man’s situation given that this worked for him. By relating your friend’s experience, you suggest that this is possible. Yes, perhaps, with a low value man. A high value man has options and, regardless of how much of a heck of a wife she would be, would find such a situation untenable. That’s not a little extreme. It’s an absolute outlier.

  19. 19
    Karmic Equation

    Fusee 17 wrote:
    “In dating, like Karl R wrote, playing hard to get is not going to make a self-respecting partner more interested.”

    I agree with this statement.

    But I think one point needs some clarity:

    Don’t “play” hard to get, but it’s OK to “be” hard to get.

    If you are ARTIFICIALLY trying to inflate your own worth by “making” a guy wait for sex then you’re “playing” hard to get. If you normally take a while to decide if you want to be intimate with someone, then you ARE hard to get, and not playing. The latter is ok. You need to be true to your own values.

    To make this concept clearer, I would paraphrase Fusee’s statement like this:

    In dating, BEING hard to get is not going to make a self-respecting partner LESS interested.

    The natural process of “deeming a guy worthy” to have first time sex with you should take more than one date. But I don’t think it should take more than 10. If you don’t know if the guy is a good enough guy by the 10th date, then either you’re not attracted to him or you can’t tell. In either case, I think you should end the relationship.

  20. 20
    EM

    @ Fusee

    friend of mine kept her man’s interest (and her own) through multiple years of dating with the following complexities: no sex before marriage, long-distance over two different continents, 9 hours of time difference for phone calls, and few visits involving sleeping in different rooms. It was not his dream to date his future wife that way, but they found a way to make it work despite him being so far from the USA for a long time and not being allowed to have sex, and they are now happily married and parents of a little boy. That’s a little extreme, and of course she is a heck of a wife, and he knew that before even asking her out, but it demonstrates that it’s perfectly fine to increase the standards, not for the sake of “making him work”, but for the sake of building a solid relationship that fulfill one’s values and life goals.”

    This may seem odd, but I would love to be able to chat with her? If you know she would be willing? Please let me know.   Even if its just emailing thru facebook. The advice that she must have/outlook on life, relationship, etc, with all those complexities, I sure could use that.
     

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