Despite What You Heard, Courtship is NOT Over.

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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  1. 31

    I cannot decide if you’re being a funny rabble-rouser or if you’re serious, hehe.  So I will respond to the post as if it were serious.  I’m not sure why people would have to change their behaviour if they “came out of the closet”.  That last bit confused me and I’m hoping you will explain it.
    For me personally though, fear is not the reason I don’t like to be called feminist.  As I said in an earlier post, I understand why it was a necessary institution and I’m thankful for everything that it has given us.  But I also think it’s time to stop and take a step back, to acknowledge that women and men are equal in many ways now and the problems that still exist have more to do with gender differences than lack of equality.  IMHO, feminism is becoming a bit of a dirty word these days, at least in the first world (I hate that term but have no better way of describing it).  We still have a long way to go in parts of the world where the killing of girl children is common but in North America, we’ve arrived.  Sometimes I feel that women are already equal but now they want to be more equal than men 😛

  2. 32

    I subscribe to what could be called ‘feminist’ views but would never describe myself as a ‘feminist’ because I don’t see how equality is only a female thing. And I don’t think equality is possible or even desirable in some instances. Sometimes things can be unequal but still fair. 
    I watched a dating show here in the UK the other day. On a date, the man pulled out a chair for the woman and she said “I can do that myself. I’m independent”. And here’s me thinking, “what’s being independent got to do with sitting down on your own?”. It’s insulting to the guy because it implies he had some ulterior motive. Anyway I think that’s odd. And I admire feminism but I think some feminists have it screwed as to what actually represents inequality and what doesn’t.

  3. 33
    Sparkling Emerald

    Lucy – #33, YES !  I am all for equality in the workplace, voting rights, equal credit, etc., but I think the “I can pull out my own chair remark” was RUDE.  Does equality = rudeness now ?  I don’t hold it against anyone for not giving me a seat, opening my car door, or walking on the outside of the sidewalk, because those customs are fast fading, and it’s very possible that someone has never been taught to do that.  But by the same token, if someone opens my car door, pulls out my seat, etc., I accept the gesture gracefully.  I wonder how effective she thinks it is, to make a guy feel terrible about that.  I wish femism just stuck to the big things, and didn’t feel the need to yammer on about minor inconsequential things like holding doors or pulling out chairs.  I remember once Ms. Magazine ran an entire article (rant) about how degrading pet names between couples were. They ran through a list of words like honey, sweetheart, darling, analyzed them to death, and decided that husbands were opressing their wives with such talk.  (never seemed to mention that pet names go in both directions,)  I read that article and thought that someone needs to take a chill pill.  I can think of a lot WORSE things a hubby could call his wife.  As for me, I would love to be “oppressed” by someone who called me honey or sweetheart or some other “oppressive” pet name.

  4. 34
    Karla (NineGPS)

    It is my wish that single women learn how to play chess in the dating game and stop getting hung up in area that hold them back. Dating in the 21st century is very nuanced and tricky to say the very least. If you are single and letting great guys slip through your fingers you have a bind spot. 

  5. 35
    Girl in the Midwest

    @ John at #26:
    Certainly. I’m sure the situation you’ve described have happened to me before. But it’s all about risk management, right? If I do the more risky thing, I may get a higher value guy, but I may also get my heart broken.
    Actually, I usually go for the geeky, beta guys. This is probably because I’m physically average and smart. So I actually am not hard to get in the relationships I end up pursuing.
    Just because a guy has no other options doesn’t mean he won’t make a good husband/boyfriend. Men tend to go for the same women, whereas women go for different men. In other words, (heterosexual) men agree more than women on which members of the opposite sex they find desirable:
    And this is unrelated, but it just seems like women can’t do right according to men. Men complain when women flock to the alpha, attractive, slightly arrogant men. But apparently going for the men with fewer options elicits disdain from you as well. Well which is it? If my guy has no other options, but he loves me and is a good partner and is the best partner I can pull, I’m going to be pretty happy.

  6. 36
    David T

    @John & Girl
    Girl is right in a way about “hard to get” not derailing interest in all but the man who feels no one will date him.

    \I have no trouble getting dates but once I am into someone she holds my attention firmly. If a woman goes unavailable at the beginning before I get to that point I will conclude she is not interested and will move on before I get to that “into” phase.
If I had three fun dates, and then she went silent or distant with no explanation (“hard to get”) on me,  after a couple of more tries I would move on, a little disappointed, possibly a little sad.  I would keep dating others and if they reach back out to me, hooray! If they took me through this cycle a few times I would dub them flaky and at most friends from thenceforth. 

Going unavailable is a risky way to gauge interest. Heck, just ask and it won’t bother me or strike me as ‘needy.’   Maybe this is a sign of my age (46) but it just seems silly not to be direct about it once you know the other person enough to respect them and enjoy their  company in a relaxed manner.


    Men complain when women flock to the alpha, attractive, slightly arrogant men. But apparently going for the men with fewer options elicits disdain from you as well.

    The whole alpha or beta paradigm is way over simplified and overused in this forum.  I don’t think of myself as arrogant, (women don’t ‘flock’ to me, but I also have not been turned down on a first/second/third date in quite a long while). There is a medium between the man with no options and the man who has women throwing themselves at him. I believe I am something of a catch (if I ever again find it within myself to get attached and be caught) so I am that middle ground.

    Regardless of that, once I hit the love point, I am very dedicated and other women don’t interest me any more beyond a passing “oh, she is pretty” kind of thought quickly followed by “I need to get gas today” or whatever. Once I hit the love point I do have no other option, not because I can’t get a date, but because there is only one person I want to be with.

    So where does your risk management figure into that?

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