The origins of dating

Flash forward to the 20th century where romance played an increasingly important role in dating.In the 1950's courtship was formal and elaborate — a routine of going steady, getting pinned and then engaged, all under the watchful eyes of parents.One of the most obvious changes was that it multiplied the number of partners (from serious to casual) an individual was likely to have before marriage.

According to an old French custom, as the moon went through all its phases the couple drank a brew called metheglin, which was made from honey. Arranged marriages were the norm, primarily business relationships born out of the desire and/or need for property, monetary or political alliances.If you are familiar with computer programming terminology, you can liken dating to a sub-routine that has been added to the system of courtship.Over the course of this two-part article, I would like to trace how this change occurred, especially concentrating on the origin of this dating "subroutine." Let me begin by briefly suggesting four cultural forces that assisted in moving from, as Alan Carlson puts it, the more predictable cultural script that existed for several centuries, to the multi-layered system and (I think most would agree) the more ambiguous courtship system that includes "the date." The first, and probably most important change we find in courtship practices in the West occurred in the early 20th century when courtship moved from public acts conducted in private spaces (for instance, the family porch or parlor) to private or individual acts conducted in public spaces, located primarily in the entertainment world, as Beth Bailey argues in her book, .The man and the woman usually were members of the same community, and the courting usually was done in the woman's home in the presence (and under the watchful eye) of her family, most often Mom and brothers.However, between the late 1800s and the first few decades of the 1900s the new system of "dating" added new stages to courtship.As with concepts like the “teenager” and “middle-class,” dating is an historically recent invention, spurred by an influx of women into the big cities seeking work around the turn of the 20th Century.

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