Wednesday, January 16, 2013

THIS IS DEFINITELY not THE END OF COURTSHIP!


Lately, I've started to feel that The New York Times - that ancient, agitated dinosaur of journalism and pillar of the publishing world - has lost touch with reality. Most especially, with us "millennials."

Did you happen to read, "The End of Courtship?

If not, read it, then meet me back here.

Many of you readers out there fit into this "millennial" generation like I do: 20-somethings who've been on Facebook since 2004 and sometimes feel like emojis say more than words can. The article postulates that because of all that texting, social media and the ability to Google people -- we as a generation are becoming incapable and apparently quite terrified to experience anything that resembles "real" romance.

Here's an exert that really grinds my gears:
“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."

I have so many problems with this I hardly know where to begin.

Click through below to continue this long-but-so-worth-it post...


The bottom line is: dating is not dead. And neither is courtship or romance. Hookup culture is real, but like - so? Every individual (guys and girls alike) establishes for themselves (and has since the dawn of time) what they will and won't do based on whatever standards / morals / desires they possess. Alcohol-fueled or not, promiscuity (or chastity) is a personal choice - not an affectation of our current culture. 

Listen -- I'll gamely admit that yes, it can be frustrating to be single and looking for a good man in a big city full of weirdos. And yes, I've had the kinds of non-relationships that this article is talking about, and yes, it can suck. 

But. (There's always a but!)

I am so SO tired of reading article after article about how romance is dead and dating is the worst and what the fuck is wrong with men these days.  Poor us, a whole generation of perfectly wonderful girls sitting at home alone, contemplating whether we should join OK Cupid or just jump off a cliff.

I would like to propose something different here today. How about some thoughts about dating that aren't totally depressing? While there are at lot of idiots out there doing all the wrong things (and maybe you've dated half of them) there are also plenty of guys (and girls!) who buck the "trend" in question and date (and communicate) like courteous human beings.

I'm lucky to have some very cool, kind, and obliging guy friends who agreed to chat a little about this with me. Since they're all real people who don't want you hunting them down on the Internet (creeps!) I'm omitting their names.

Below, some opinions, thoughts and advice on courtship, communication, and carrier pigeons.


1.

"For the past four years I have lived in Manhattan. Of those four years, I was single and actively dating for three and a half years. Dates were generally planned a week in advance, and I would follow up the night before with more specific details. Dates were generally dinner and drinks. Second, third, and fourth dates usually included some activity that we were both into: concerts, art, etc. The level of formality tended to naturally fall as the number of dates increased. They did not involve hanging out with friends. That would be hanging out with friends, rather than dating. 

I met my current super rad girlfriend on one of these dates. We went on a number of formal dates before I was comfortable inviting her to a party to meet my friends. This would seem to be the inverse of the "new normal dating paradigm" put forward in the NYT article. To be fair, most of these dates were arranged via text message. If it were 1580 they likely would have been arranged via carrier pigeon: The form of communication having little influence on the form and formality of the date itself."

2.

"I have a feeling that the people who write these pieces have been in long-term relationships since before Twitter and Facebook were very popular.  Their lack of familiarity with the mediums brings them to write things like "dating is dead" and all that other garbage. It isn't, it's just changed. As for cryptic texting / tweeting / FB messages, it would be idiotic to consider this a new phenomenon. Texting is no different than "writing" in Victorian England.  "Sir, may I have permission to write your daughter?" is actually "Yo, I'd hit that if I didn't think you'd kill me." Talk about cryptic. And that girl would eagerly wait for the post every day.  Every day that no letter arrived she wonders "Has he lost interest? Is he writing someone else?" The only difference is frequency.  

Writing to phone to email to text, the only thing changing is the time gap between responses.  Do people have to read between the lines and use their words carefully? Yes.  But it's always been that way.  Hell, that's part of the challenge.  Can you make someone laugh in 140 characters? Say something worth responding to?  That's part of the game that will never change.  You can get laid via text, but only if the person on the other end has resigned themselves to accepting a flirty text as enough of an indicator of the quality of your character.  That's an issue with self esteem.  I prefer to think and hope that the majority of the population isn't there yet." 

3. 

"Casual meetups and impersonal texting becoming norms have actually provided an opportunity to demonstrate real interest and respect. A phone call, previously a necessity may now be considered a slightly grand gesture and a date can signify legitimate interest in a potential partner." 

4.

So, the NYT says courtship is dead. That is conjecture. If you want to believe that, do so by all means. But dating does not have to be trendy. It is what you make of it. But, that being said, manage your expectations. You're mid-twenties and online dating? There's a chance good things will come of that. There's also a really, really good chance that guys who are online dating are really interested in sleeping with you. Don't be naive. If you're on the same page as those guys, by all means, proceed. If you're not, explore some alternate avenues. 

I'm limited on space, so here's my best advice: First, calm down. Do not panic or get frustrated. There is time to find a partner and there is (likely) nothing wrong with you. Second, be confident. This is awful, but there are certain ideas (true or not) about what girls with low self esteem will do. Those girls are not dating material. Do not be one of them. Lastly, Don't be naive. Look at things rationally before you dive in. Write it down on paper if you need a reminder."

5.

"I think the author has a very narrow and unrealistic definition of courtship and dating, and that many of the perceived "changes" to dating really aren't changes. It isn't a new thing to meet someone through work. This is how people have been meeting each other for generations. Guess where my grandparents met? At work. And there was courtship involved. My grandma was in her late 30's.  She didn't want to get married. My grandpa had to ask her for days on end to get a date. Seriously, the man had to work hard. 

The only thing that has changed is how we communicate, which of course includes text, Twitter, email, etc. In other news: we don't pick up our dates in a horse and buggy anymore. And is the premise that rejection only stings via phone really true? I think anyone in our generation would agree that rejection hurts just the same regardless of the medium through which it's delivered.

I think the main fallacy in this article is that dating should be the same for everyone. Fancy dinners, plays, roses; it's so one-dimensional. Dating should reflect who you are as a person because your relationship should support your lifestyle, not the other way around. While I enjoy going out to a nice dinner, there are many other things that define who I am and my partner needs to be compatible with my entire identity. It follows naturally that courtship might take other forms."

6.

"My main gripe with our generation and dating is how we've allowed our instant gratification mentality to roll into avenues that simply cannot be conjured at the push of a button.  You shouldn't expect a promotion at a job as quickly as you can order spring rolls from Seamless. Then again, you (should) know a promotion requires effort, patience, and creativity; so does dating. I'm of the mindset that a relationship worth being in requires foundation and can't simply be found at 2am at 13th Step or forged through a string of vague texts/tweet/pokes. Nothing replaces a good dinner date. Do some research, set the venue and call the person with confidence. Courtship isn't dead, we're just allowing the cultural apathy to spread."

I owe a big thanks to my friends for sharing their thoughts, and now it's your turn. 


Is courtship dead?  
Do millennials need a smack in the head when it comes to romance?  
Did emojis ruin everything?!?!


31 comments:

  1. oh my god the emojis have ruined EVERYTHING!! haha no im kidding, you're totally right. Courtship isn't dead and that article was just bluff and they didnt know what they were talking about, and using Girls to back themselves up? Shame on them.
    I love how you included opinions on this post, nice to see some other perspectives :)

    http://lazyobsession.blogspot.com

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  2. Taylor, I've been reading your blog for years (since before you moved to New York!) but this is the first time I've felt compelled to comment because of how brilliant and impassioned your response to the original NYT article is! As a millennial myself, well-acquainted with the trials and tribulations of our so-called hook-up culture, I would like to be the first to say: I FEEL YOU. On everything you articulated in this post. Of course hook-up culture is different than 1950s-style dating, but dating is most definitely NOT dead. Most millennials have just grown up in an ADHD-addled age of instant gratification and are too impatient to wait for a decent partner to come their way so they settle for less-than-satisfying hook-ups with less-than-satisfying partners and then complain to the New York Times, apparently. As much as I love your fashion posts (and I do!), I want to thank you and your seemingly awesome and astute guy friends so much for posting this!

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    1. Dearest Anon - who are you!? This is such a wonderful and brilliant comment and I am so flattered, I wish I could thank you personally. I love your thought, "millennials have just grown up in an ADHD-addled age of instant gratification and are too impatient to wait for a decent partner to come their way so they settle for less-than-satisfying hook-ups with less-than-satisfying partners and then complain to the New York Times, apparently." Perfectly said and quite true.

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    2. Thanks for such a sweet reply! Like I said, I've been following your blog ever since I was a naive high school senior looking for fashion tips and now I'm a slightly better-dressed senior at UCLA. I've had a few aborted attempts at blogging but if I ever start a blog of my own one day, you'll be the first to know!

      nishikakumble@gmail.com

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  3. Having been out of the dating game for a while now, I can't speak from first-hand experience, but I do have to say vicariously speaking, I would agree with your assessment. Sure dating has evolved, but hasn't the modern woman? Women are no longer sitting around waiting to find a man to fulfill their dreams and put a ring on their finger; they are looking for an equal partner who can share in their dreams. And so what if you can now google your partner, tweet them or facebook them? Doesn't it all just lead to getting to know the person better (or better pre-qualify that you aren't going on a date with a crazy?!) Boo to NYT for being so short-sighted.

    Chelsea

    Haute Child in the City

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    1. I totally agree Chelsea - thank you so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment. This was such an interesting post to write, and it's been even MORE amazing to see what readers think of it. Here's to modern technology helping us screen the creepers on our way to finding the winners!

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  4. Great post! I agree with you. I don't think it's dead, it exists with those looking for relationships. Now that women don't feel like they are damaged goods if they aren't married at 18, it's not always about courting, casual dating and hanging out are prevalent, but it doesn't mean dating is gone. And what's wrong with using technology as a tool, just like we do with everything else? As long as he doesn't break up with you via facebook... and those guys do still exist!

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  5. Oh lord that article was so full of out-of-touch pearl-clutching I just could. not. handle it. I love your response, and the input from your friends! I think you're right to say the NYT has thus far been at a complete loss for how to discuss or interpret Millenials. Gee, I don't know, maybe hire some? Or at least watch Girls for the love of pete. Dating, courtship, and having a decent level of respect for others isn't going anywhere. We still have a society that uses those norms, NYT, and as proof maybe check your own engagement section?

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    1. Great thoughts Sarah, thank you so much for sharing! I love your term "pearl clutching." It's priceless and absolutely the perfect visual.

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  6. You have some very smart and sensible males friends! I love the responses from #2 and #6 and definitely agree!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your friends thoughts. I admit, sometimes I can get a little down in the dumps about dating and communication. But I realize that courtship is not dead and there are loads of great men and women out there. I love #4 comments about confidence - hell yeah!

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    1. Yeah girl! Commiserating with our friends is what wine was pressed for - you know? I think griping and complaining is only natural, but we certainly dont need the effing NYT telling us that there's no hope for us, our smart phones or the future of humanity. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  8. I just want to point out that "You've Got Mail", a movie about meeting on the internet, came out 14 years ago.
    The author might want to get onboard with "current" technology or much like your friend's promotion analogy, they'll find themselves in the workplace without usable skills.

    That said, I'm 35 and I met my fiance on OKCupid. We worked in the same office and never spoke, without internet dating, I'm not sure we'd be together.

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    1. Again, I wish who this anonymous commenter was so I could thank you personally for your really dead-on thoughts. I actually laughed out loud about You've Got Mail. What a great story about you and your fiance too - how amazing!

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  9. Tay, i love this post. I read the article yesterday, felt very discouraged and realized that I was discouraged because I felt like, as a girl, there was nothing I could do to change this "end of courtship" fate. But the more i thought about it, the more it annoyed me. In my last relationship, my boyfriend took me to dinner, drove me home, brought me presents from trips and texted me consistently, all in the name of courtship! We dated for almost three years! Why? Because he actually liked me. Things with that guy i met two weeks ago, that i made out with in a cab, flirted with over text-message and failed to ever see again, didn't work out. Why? Because he actually didn't like me. I don't think courtship is dead, we just need to stop being naive, put less pressure on every interaction with the opposite sex and get out there!

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    1. Whoever you are, you know me enough to call me Tay and I feel like I could figure you out if I tried long enough. Great thoughts & thank you so much for your candid story - it's a great reminder of the reality and the goodness that's out there. Cheers!

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  10. Thanks so much for writing this. I read that article and was honestly concerned. I'm an old fashioned girl, I love getting flowers and letters (yes, via USPS), and when someone is sick you bring a casserole because that's what you do. I think there's definitely been a change in how dating is facilitated, if I hadn't texted my husband first we may never have gotten married, I would hate to think that dating was actually dead.

    Hopefully our generation will see articles like this and teach our children how to ask a girl on a proper date, how to write a thank you note, and how to talk to people on the phone instead of relying solely on Facebook for their social interactions.

    Cheers! Jen
    http://www.jkhnelson.com

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  11. Thank you! I never comment, but this needed it. I read that article too, and frankly, it totally pissed me off. Who are these people who are such debbies that they feel the need to blame all men, or just "the times" in general. It is so frustrating. There is nothing wrong with times changing, but honestly I felt like a Victorian spinster wrote this. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it felt like they were totally out of touch with actual people's feelings, and only trying to figure out how technology fits into this dating world. There are so many people in regular relationships that it is honestly pretty pathetic that they're trying to justify that this is the way it is in our time. And also, say we do bring a potential significant other along to meet friends, since when is having them want you around a bad thing??

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    1. I'm so glad you decided to comment Sophia, I really appreciate it and I think you're so dead-on, which only further solidifies my feelings about how important it was to address this on my *fashion* blog, haha! That old geezer we call the NYT needs a serious dose of youth with a side of smarts. Thanks again!

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  12. I have always loved your blog for its sartorial relevance (and as a boston girl i envy your new york lifestyle). This post is AMAZING, you NEED to do more op -ed type posts like this!!! spot on taylor!

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  13. Here's another millennial saying that indeed dating is NOT dead, only a modern, emoji version of itself. I have been in a relationships since I was 17, skipping straight from one to the next, so I might not be in the know about what the hip, single kids are up to these days, but this 25 year old loves the emoticon texting man that she landed, and the adventurous dates that we have enjoyed over the past 3 years.. here's to many more, and proving our parents wrong!
    xx
    Here&Now

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    1. Jessica you always have the best things to say! No matter if you're single or in a relationship, these evolutions in our culture affect everyone - and I couldnt agree with your sentiments more. xo

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  14. I too enjoy your blog, however as a 30 something trying to "date" in San Franciscio, I completely agree with the NYT! Dating is dead. The point about facebook, and text msg being an easy way in or out, is 100% true. Have I given up? No, however I do feel that this article has more truths in it, than not.

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  15. Thank god you took up that piece...NYT's has never been a place to look for uplifting and inspiring stories (see: Modern Love.) but this was seemed especially bitter. And god I love emojis...I think there is less of a rush to be in a "relationship" but I think the relationship has evolved. Courtship and dating is still there--it surprised me when I actually took the time to wait for it...I think if anything our generation just needs a little more patience.

    http://holychicblog.blogspot.com/

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    1. Totally agree - Modern Love is like this brilliantly written, hodge-podge of mostly sad stories of love that makes me feel both impressed and depressed at the same time.

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  16. I have tried to reply to this post several times without ranting... but I can't. You've pretty much said it all though. As always, thank you for your witty and candid writing.

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  17. spot on. thank you. i think when it's mean to be with the right person, none of that stuff said by the NYT will have to be worried about. you know? "if he's just not that into you.." also, confidence! yes! xo

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  18. While I do agree with a lot of what you've had to say--I can completely understand how this article came to be. That new kind of courtship that the NYT is talking about is a large part of the dating culture, at least here in LA. But on the other hand, I believe that it partially has to do with what you accept into your life--if a guy starts texting you and inviting you to "group hangs," then don't accept. But at the same time, don't turn down the guy who actually has the decency to call you on the phone and asks you to dinner, thinking he is forward for contacting you in such a way. I also feel the need to commend you for having such well-adjusted male friends! Their comments are insightful and extremely motivating--it feels good knowing that there are at least a few decent men out there...know any on this coast?

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    1. I understand it too Rebecca, which I suppose is the other frustrating part of this right? It's all real, its just unfortunate that the NYT makes it sound like THATS ALL THERE IS. You know? And I totally agree, It's all about what you accept into your life. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  19. hey taylor. if i am remembering correctly this was in last weeks times? as i parse together my memory of the article and read through your very insightful and reasonable response, i also remember the article relied heavily on HBO's Girls. i wondered at the time if that was out of topical relevance or with direct regard to the premiere later that day (or weekend depending on your subscription). nevertheless, i agree with a great deal of what you have said here. As you noted, i'm not sure "subverting the rules of courtship" is as alarmist as ms. silver seems to make it, practically threatening to eradicate the term "date" from the dictionary. for fear of what? im not sure. another concern i had was the position of the article, despite being written by a professional female. in use of pronouns alone, this article was written as a self-help commiseration to young girls, e.g. "women in their 20's these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along" and ignores entirely that this type of companionship might be at the election of said woman, not mention the manner in which this woman treats other men. perhaps that should have been addressed? it seemed to paint a bleak and pathetic picture of something that is not such. another point entirely ignored was that woman (and men) have the option to simply not pursue a companion that does not communicate in a way that they desire. if dating is a series of options and decisions, this article ignores that. the girl waiting for a text on a Friday night, is choosing to do so. i really appreciate that you opened up a conversation on this, albeit a reasonably incensed one. apologies for the length of this comment!

    amanda
    http://thingstoholdandstir.blogspot.com/

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    1. No worries about the long comment Amanda - these are the kinds of topics that get us all talking! Your point about the position being so aimed at young women rather than all of us was kind of infuriating and a large part of why I took issue with it! "Our situation" if you could even call it that - is not bleak nor pathetic, unless you let yourself believe it. It's all about individual actions and perceptions, I think. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

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