The evolution of dating

Reach for the phone, flip the cover, swipe the screen, press the button. Have they replied? No, not yet. Turn the phone off, push it away, try not to check.

A hundred years ago, dating was rather different: it mandated chaperones and family involvement. The process, called courtship, gave control to the woman: the girl or her mother invited suitors to come for dinner or for an afternoon in the parlor to get to know them. In fact, the male was not allowed to visit the female unless he received an invitation. These relationships were expected to last long and eventually lead to marriage.

Today, the norms surrounding relationships are very different. Couples do not have chaperones, as dating is seen as a way to develop intimacy between two people. But dating also begins at a relatively young age. Because dating has become so casual and has fewer age limitations, it has become more open to elementary students. According to a poll by, 61 percent of teenagers have been in relationships. However, only 5 percent of of high school relationships transitioning to college survive freshman year.

Courtship rituals have also died out. Instead of wooing women with phone calls, letters, gifts and charm, men simply need to send a text asking if the girl wants to “hang out.” It is like dropping a line into a pond and hoping fish will bite. The Independent Women’s Forum reports that 1/3 of college seniors have not been on more than two dates.

In an era of new dating apps and sites, such as OKCupid, JSwipe and Hinge, matchmaking is quick and easy. New Internet sites allow people to “speed date” and find a relationship in no time. These sites can cater to specific attributes, whether it be ethnicity, religion or career, and allow for easy and informal access to communication. Talking on the phone and text messaging are often less nerve-wracking than speaking with a crush or partner face -to-face.

However, these dating sites can instigate dishonesty through fake profiles and false personal information. According to a study conducted by a global research agency OpinionMatters across the U.S .and the UK, 53 percent of Americans lie on their online dating profiles. OKCupid compared their data to statistics for the average American and found that their height distribution is shifted two inches to the right – in other words, people add two inches to their height on average.

“I think it’s good that people have online dating sites so that they can meet specific people that may share the same hobbies. However, it’s very easy for someone to fake who they are. That’s why I think it’s better for people to meet face-to-face,” Freshman Jiwon Hasaid.

Some people are even finding relationships online outside of dating sites. With hundreds of forums, multiplayer games, websites for common interests, and chat sites that match random people (Hot or Not, Omegle and Chatroulette), connecting with someone has become much easier. This reinforces the casual approach to dating by broadening the potential dating pool.

Society’s expectations of dating have shifted mainly because of the feminist movement of the 21st century. Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfer conclude that as women entered the workforce and gained reproductive rights, marriage began to evolve into its modern day form. Women now marry men based on love and shared passions rather than financial stability.

Women entering the workforce has also resulted in lower marriage rates in the 21st century, according to University of Virginia Magazine . This decline has been attributed to increased independence for women. Since women are now able to work and support themselves, many choose to stay single. The rejection of marriage and the older age at which people choose to get married have made dating more casual because marriage is not always the end goal.

“It is good that dating has changed. Now that the focus is not on marriage, people have more room to explore and grow,” Senior Laura Click said.