History of Dating

“When one tries to understand how dating has changed over time, and most importantly, how we arrived at the system of courtship and dating we have today, one must realize the monumental cultural shift that occurred during the 1940s, primarily due to World War II.”

“In the late 1940s, Margaret Mead, in describing this pre-war dating system, argued that dating was not about sex or marriage. Instead, it was a “competitive game,” a way for girls and boys to demonstrate their popularity. Men’s popularity needed outward material signs: automobile, clothing, fraternity membership, money, etc. Women’s popularity depended on building and maintaining a reputation of popularity: be seen with popular men in the “right” places, turn down requests for dates made at the last minute and cultivate the impression that you are greatly in demand.”

‘So, that is the system in place prior to World War II. After World War II the norms within the dating system began to change. By the late 1940s and early 1950s demographic realities began to sink in: There was a shortage of men. After World War II, due in part to the fact that 250,000 men never came home, for the first time in the United States, women outnumbered men.”

“Due primarily to this scarcity of men, two things happened in the United States after World War II pertaining to marriage: Marriage rates climbed, and the average age of those marrying went down. However, the most striking change in postwar courtship and dating was the ever-earlier age at which children and teenagers entered the courtship and dating system.”

“One sociologist wrote in a July 1953 New York Times Magazine article that each boy and girl ideally should date 25 to 50 eligible marriage partners before making his or her final decision. At the center of this 1950s youth dating culture was the act of “going steady,” according to Beth Bailey.  In her book, From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America, Bailey says that,

[I]n earlier days going steady had been more like the old-fashioned ‘keeping steady company.’ It was a step along the path to marriage, even if many steady couples parted company before they reached the altar. By the early 1950s, going steady had acquired a totally different meaning. It was no longer the way a marriageable couple signaled their deepening intentions. Instead, going steady was something twelve-year-olds could do, and something most fifteen-year-olds did do. Few steady couples expected to marry each other, but for the duration of the relationship, acted as if they were married. Going steady had become a sort of play-marriage, a mimicry of actual marriage. (p. 49)

So, during the 1950s, going steady (or going out) had completely supplanted the former dating system based on popularity. And this new system had its own set of rules and customs. For instance, there had to be some visible token (class ring, letterman’s sweater or jacket) given to the one with whom you were going out. Additionally, the relationships were exclusive: Neither boy nor girl could date or pay much attention to anyone of the opposite sex. Obviously, most of these steady relationships did not result in marriage, oftentimes not lasting more than a few days or a few weeks.

Many cultural commentators have argued that this going steady system has greatly contributed to our modern culture of divorce.”

“So where are we today? Do we have a dating/rating system that values the number of dates, and has popularity as its goal, or do we have a going steady system that values what is called “serial monogamy” — a succession of exclusive and serious relationships, as a practice for marriage? Or do we have a combination of the two?”

“It appears that the “script” that has developed in the closing decades of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st is, “anything goes.” And, although for many years this was sold under the heading of freedom, I believe young adults over the past decade have discovered that, in fact, it has caused cultural and relational vertigo — not knowing for certain which way is up or down, and not knowing in which direction to move. For many it’s utter confusion.”

 

Source: All information was taken from this article
http://www.boundless.org/relationships/2007/a-brief-history-of-courtship-and-dating-in-america-part-2

 

Soul Mate

Is there really only one perfect person for each of us to marry, and if you don’t marry that person than you won’t be happy? Some thoughts to consider:

If this is true, than what about Christians who have married non-Christians? The Bible is clear about the truth that Christians should marry Christians (because what we believe affects how we act and live). So if a Christian married a non-Christian, what happened to their perfect soul mate? Are they left out because their perfect soul mate married someone else?

What about a death of a Christian spouse? I know faithful Christians who have lost a spouse and eventually remarried later in life. Did they have two perfect soul mates?

If we each have a perfect soul mate, than how do we know when we have found the right one?

May I suggest that the idea of a perfect soul mate, may be erroneous? Biblically speaking the most important thing is finding someone who is a Christian who truly fears the Lord, or desires to do what is pleasing to God above all else. Love and marriage is not about how perfectly people fit together. Rather, love is a willful choice. God loves us not because we are easy to love, but because He simply graciously chose to love us. The same goes for our relationships; no one is easy to love, but we can choose to love them and remain committed even when things aren’t perfect.

Perhaps it’s not about finding your perfect soul mate, but rather finding a committed Christian who together are willing to make it work.