Any feminist who is living in mortal dread that her son might grow up to be a gentleman can breathe easier this morning.
The New York Times is reporting that courtship and dating are dead.
One does not understand why it took the Times so long to figure this out, but, as they say, better late than never.
Anyway, count this story in the category: You couldn’t pay me to be 24 again.
The story shows how modern courtship goes awry:
MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one.
“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”
Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”
“It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.
Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Many people probably agreee that the millennial generation is “subverting the rules of courtship” but that is entirely too optimistic.
The younger generation is dazed and confused, not knowing what is expected, what to do and what any gesture means.
Someone or other, we have created a dating culture where everyone is following his or her bliss and no one knows what the rules are.
One professor sagely points out that young adults do not go out on dates because they never learned how to do it. Given the confusion over gender roles, no one knows who is supposed to do what to whom. And no one knows what counts as an expression of interest and what counts as a grievous insult.
Some blame the problem on social media and iPhones. Sagely, the Times also suggests that the problem might be a lack of character. One does not often think of it in these terms, so it is worth underscoring the point.
The Times writes:
Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of “asynchronous communication,” as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it’s more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.
Yes, indeed: dating requires courage and risk-taking. Among millennials these are apparently in short supply.
Dating requires you to make an appointment and to show up. When it comes to their dealings with the opposite sex millennials seem not to know how to do this.
Dating requires strategic planning: where are you going to go; what are you going to do? Worse yet, dating requires you to provide advance information about the evening’s activities so that she will be able to prepare. It’s called respect. Apparently, millennials lack this level of social skill.
And then, of course, there’s the economic recession. Dating costs money. When men invite women on dates they often pay for the evening’s entertainment. This requires a certain level of solvency, something that many millennials simply do not have.
And then, of course, in our gender neutered time, men do not know what is expected of them. They do not know whether if they start acting like a gentleman a woman will take offense or whether she will write them off as effete. Even if a woman says that she wants a man to act like a gentleman, she probably has very little experience dealing with gentlemen and so will feel that there is something strange about it.
Of course, there are still a few brave souls who defy convention and refuse to accept invitations that are less than dates. They used to be called “rules girls.”
Even in an era of ingrained ambivalence about gender roles, however, some women keep the old dating traditions alive by refusing to accept anything less.
Cheryl Yeoh, a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco, said that she has been on many formal dates of late — plays, fancy restaurants. One suitor even presented her with red roses. For her, the old traditions are alive simply because she refuses to put up with anything less. She generally refuses to go on any date that is not set up a week in advance, involving a degree of forethought.
As you know, if you ever dare to say anything positive about “The Rules” you will be ridiculed mercilessly.
It may not be a pretty picture, but it’s the world that millennials live in.