Wednesday, April 29, 2015

dating in the 70s was SO much easier

My parents, Rich and Mary Ann, met in September ‘77 at the surprise birthday party of a mutual friend.1 I’ve been told that six weeks after their first encounter, Mary Ann and her roommate/future maid of honor decided it was wise to move closer to Rich. To me, this falls under the description of “crazy.” I know that if I were to tell people (including Mary Ann) that I am basing my apartment location off of a guy I met six weeks prior, they would say:

“You’re crazy.”

To me, six weeks seems quick to even be exclusive— to have had that whole DTR conversation. So, over lunch recently, I inquired as to when this occurred. Apparently, they have yet to have had that conversation, 35 years into their marriage. Apparently, they both assumed that, since the other person was going on dates with them, they were exclusive. Apparently, this was a very normal practice not so long ago.

This is such a foreign concept to me. Being in my mid-twenties, there is absolutely no way I just assume someone wants to be in a relationship with me, even if they’re taking me on dates. To illustrate why, I relayed the following true story to Rich and Mary Ann:

Charlie, 24, works in consulting and travels a lot for his job. He and one of his friends from college started to hook up. He told his sister that it was a really convenient situation, because he didn’t have to worry about picking someone up while out drinking with his bros: she was a sure thing at the end of the night. Meanwhile, she assumed they were moving toward a relationship. He doesn’t mind limiting his hook up options to just her, but doesn’t want to be her boyfriend. He’s tried the “I travel so much” excuse, but she didn’t take the hint and said she didn’t mind. Now he’s trying to figure out how to end whatever it is they have without hurting her too badly and ruining their friendship.

Mary Ann’s response to this story? “Well, there were sleazy guys like that back then, too.”

But here’s the thing: guys like Charlie are not considered sleazy. They are the norm. This behavior is accepted and expected. In fact, the fact that Charlie isn’t just planning to continue hooking up with his friend until he meets someone else, pull the slow fade, and tell her “I never said I was your boyfriend” when she questions him is practically commendable.2

Obviously, assuming that they were exclusive worked out for Rich and Mary Ann in the '70s, but those were different times. My explanation for this is the rise of perceived choice and instant gratification. With social media and dating sites (and now dating apps), why wait until you get to know someone to sleep with them? It takes so long to build trust and intimacy! And with so many options, you don’t want to have to settle if someone better comes along. I’m sure dating sites and apps were initially intended to make dating easier, but I really don’t think it has. What do you guys think? Is dating easier or harder in the 21st century? Comment below!

1 The girlfriend of the celebrant, who was throwing the party, really got the surprise: her boyfriend showed up with another girl.

2 Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen to enough friends to know how it typically goes.


  1. My therapist literally just told me i totally should have been born earlier so i could have dated in the 70s. When there was no online dating and people met organically. Have i mentioned I hate online dating? No social media where people could drive themselves crazy. No lack of communication or misunderstanding because people only text these days. And most importantly, a time when chivalry still existed and hook up relationships were not the norm.

  2. What do you mean by dating? I don't think that the concept of dating as it existed back then exists now. My parents met at a Hamburger Habit. After several weeks, my dad asked my mom's father of he had permission to take my mom out to get ice cream. That's not a thing anymore.

    We live in the age of instant gratification. Any girl can make an online profile and in 1 day have an entire calendar full of dates for the rest of the week. When you do that, you don't take the time to build trust and intimacy. Hell, you have 15 other dates lined up this week and 2,500 messages to read when you get home from your current date. Unless you're instantly attracted to the guy you're currently on a date with, what incentive do you have to try to build some measure of intimacy with him.

    We also live in a world that's increasingly broken down by analytics, and this mentality ties into dating. If you date 15 guys a week, you're going to increase the odds that one of those guys will produce a spark. I'm being hyperbolic (I'm guessing girls don't line up dates like bowling pins this way... or maybe they do?), but bear with me.

    Guys know this. From a guy's perspective, I know that the girl I'm going on a date with probably just got done with a date before we met up, and she's going to brunch with a new guy the next morning. A guy is going to be hard pressed to make something happen, and to do it now. So now you have guys who are pulling out all the stops, because if you don't make an instant connection the game is over for you. This builds an unrealistic picture in both the girl and the guy, it leads to a lot of fast hookups, fade aways, and flameouts.

    There just isn't time to meet someone, spend weeks talking before you get the courage to ask the girl on a date, and then spend the next several months slowly getting to know each other before you get "into a relationship" with them. Who has time for that? You've got fucking yoga in the morning and some kale smoothies to drink.

    Hell- I went on a date with a girl recently, and we went on a second date. I didn't make a move on her, not because I'm some kind of chivalrous knight, mostly because I'm dumb and missed the signs. It's probably over, she's moved on. The thought now is - oh its been two dates and he hasn't made a move: a) he's not into me and it's time to move on; or b) I'm bored and it's time to move on.

    So really your question can be answered by saying this: DATING is easier now. In the amount of time it took me to type this on my phone, if you had a dating profile, you've probably gotten 100 messages and can now pick the top 5 to set up dates with. That type of power didn't exist in the 70's.

    It's just different now, and we're never going back. It isn't that guys are sleaze balls (they are...), girls have changed, too. Everything is different!