There is no doubt that technological and societal advancements have improved dating and relationships in many ways. If we write someone a letter or a note it’s because we want to, not because it’s our only mode of communication with them. If we want to meet someone new, we can go online and don’t have to rely on our family, friends, or social outings to do so – though, sometimes that may still be best.
The point is, we can communicate more consistently with our significant other as well as meet more people from more places who have the potential to be better matches for us. But there are still a few things that classic dating seems to have over the hookup culture that we live in today. That is, if you desire a real, deep relationship with another person.
Way, way, way less distractions
The fact that we even have to worry about people taking out their phones on a date is a new-age struggle that our parents and grandparents never had to deal with. When they went out with someone they cared about, they were with the person they cared about, the person they wanted to be with. That was it. Just two people talking, getting to know each other, and enjoying each other’s company.
If we want to build an emotional connection with someone, we need to eliminate all of the noise around us and focus. Being constantly in touch with the world is great for business or networking, but when it comes to emotional connection – unplug.
There used to be clear intentions
He hasn’t texted you in 2 days, what does that mean?! Is he not really interested? Does he just want to sleep with you and nothing more? You’ve been ‘talking’ for over a month now, are you a ‘thing’?
Maybe it was because dating used to be courtship and it actually had a process to it that seemed to be clearer than what we have today, but for whatever reason it is, people seem to be sort of floating at sea when it comes to knowing where they stand with someone. If you are up front, honest, and state your intentions – your chances of finding someone on the same page as you are suddenly become much higher, as long as they are equally honest.
People knew the part they played in the process
Alright, before the hate mail starts and people call me sexist or chauvinistic or say I am promoting male/female gender roles, hear me out for a second.
I am completely all for equality in society and in relationships, as I have written about repeatedly before. But (there’s always a but) I think that a lot of people begin to get confused when they hear “equality.” They think it means two people have to do the same exact things to keep everything “even.” If you go to dinner, equality means you need to split the bill, or she needs to pay next time, or whatever. No, not really.
How about she pays for the next round of drinks or takes care of your parking or surprises you with tickets to a show, or does something to contribute in her own way? Equal does not have to mean the same and I think that everyone is getting a little confused by the difference.
There is no scorecard when it comes to dating. If a man wants to do something for a woman, that is his choice. If a woman wants to do something for a man, that is her choice. Each party should be appreciative and accept the gesture graciously. You don’t need to do the same exact thing in return to be equal, just contribute in your own way.
They actually used to build a foundation
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen an ultrasound photo or an engagement ring photo on someone’s Facebook who I swear was single just a couple of months earlier. Then, before much time passes, the engagement is off or someone is worried about the baby or the entire situation has crumbled.
People don’t actually progress anymore. They immerse themselves in each other’s lives and go from 0 to 100 without any steps in between. To build a solid, healthy relationship, you need to do just that. Block, upon block, upon block. Build a pyramid and work your way up – it will take longer to get to the same height than if you just stacked block upon block upon block, but it will also be much stronger and last much longer.
They became a team, together
Think about your grandparents. Or their parents. Or their parents. Relationships in generations before us seemed to be unit. A team. Two became one. It wasn’t John, and then his wife Susie. It was Susie and John. They were equal parts of the recipe that made up their relationship.
These days everyone is so caught up on being “independent” that they aren’t as willing to really be with someone to the same extent that older generations were. Sure, they had their reasons to rely on each other. Women couldn’t work, or didn’t make nearly as much as men. But just because a woman makes an equal amount of money (or more) than her boyfriend/husband, doesn’t mean anything when it comes to forming a bond together.
We are becoming more individualized as a society. Too many people have been hurt or jaded and are running around saying “I’m just gonna do me” and never put themselves out there anymore. They are not open to building that bond, or forming that team – which is an essential part of having a long lasting relationship.
They saw chivalry as respectful, not as demeaning
Small acts like opening a door or pulling out a chair were a sign of class and respect. Some parts of chivalry may be rooted in old-school chauvinism where men did things for women because they weren’t perceived as doing it themselves, but no longer. I believe we can bring the good aspects of being chivalrous into the modern era and leave behind the negatives.
The new era of chivalry is not rooted in the chauvinistic mindset of the past. We have evolved past performing these acts for women because “they can’t do it themselves.”
The modern gentleman performs these acts for the right reasons – love, caring, and respect.
They fixed things that were broken
When older generations made a commitment to each other, they made a commitment to each other. They did not simply walk away when things got tough or when there was a challenge. They stood by the side of the person who they pledged to love – perhaps because they did everything else above and actually intertwined themselves with another person, so the thought of leaving shattered pieces on the floor didn’t occur to them. They cleaned up their mess and moved forward. Together.
Of course there were divorces and affairs and arguments in our grandparents’ generations too – I don’t want to romanticize everything to an unrealistic point, but I think we can all agree that things are just…different now.
For those of us who want a strong, long lasting relationship – we should probably avert our attention from our peers who are no more successful in this area of life than we are. We need to observe, inquire, and talk to those who have been successful, and acquire new knowledge from their experiences.
Relationships then lasted a lot longer than relationships now – and it’s time we started asking ourselves why that was. We just might learn a thing or two.
Picture Credit: Jessica Janae Photography