The first time I was ever asked out went a little like this:
Boy: “I’m going to the roller rink this weekend, if you want to come.”
Sierra: “Oh wow that sounds great! Text me!”
This exchange was back when I was about fourteen, with my first soon-to-be boyfriend ever. Now that I’m a little bit older, I look back on my first time being asked out and see that it’s very different from the way my mom or my grandmothers were asked out. And the date we went on was very different from the dates my mom or my grandmothers went on.
Dating culture changes from generation to generation (which we’re about to see in the interviews below). But has dating changed so much in the current generation that nobody dates? Or knows how?
Relationships are complicated, just ask anyone. College kids nowadays are navigating relationship statuses like “just friends” or “hooking up” or “together” or “friends with benefits”; it can get confusing in today’s dating world. There’s a special acronym that I’ve been asked about since I started dating: DTR. DTR (define the relationship) is probably one of the most dreadful things to do now, because nobody ever wants to ask where the relationship is going (myself included) because it’s scary and leaves us vulnerable! But not DTR-ing gets rid of this, so, no dating.
Going on dates can be just as ambiguous as the dating titles. Take for example, Netflix and Chill. It sounds like one thing, but it’s really something totally different. With the hookup culture we’ve created, it’s no surprise that the dates we go on revolve around hooking up.
The internet strongly influences how we act, especially when we see those picture-perfect social media couples or use hookup apps like Tinder. We want to have the nice and smiley social media relationship, but we also want the freedom to hookup (and we like the novelty of it). We’ve created a hookup culture instead of a dating culture, focused on external beauty instead of personality.
Let’s travel back in time to see what dating was like from three important women in my life.
Oma (grandmother), dated in the 1950’s: “The act of asking out a girl could take a while, since boys would call on the phone and ask for a date. Making telephone calls was hard because there were four party lines, so sometimes when you picked up the phone to make a call, someone was already talking, so you’d have to wait your turn. I met boys at school, work, concerts, and German dances (which happened every weekend and excited my parents since they wanted me to marry a German boy).
Most of the time, when my parents went out, so did I. One of my girlfriends and I went to high school football games and met boys there. The dates I went on were usually a movie and a milkshake. One time, a boy took me downtown to a stage show at the Chicago Theater and another boy took me to his home for dinner with his parents. When I was older, we would go out after work to restaurants and bars.”
Mimi (grandmother), dated in the 1960’s: “No one ever asked someone out by saying “what are you doing Saturday night?” because it was considered rude. The guy almost always asked the girl out. Dates were at a movie theater or someone’s house, usually on Saturday night. There weren’t any group dates like you do now, it was always the boy and the girl alone.
The guy always came to the front door to pick you up and met your father, who of course checked out your date before you could leave. There weren’t any seat belts at this time either, so girls would sit really close to their guys. Guys would give the girl his ring when he asked you to be his girlfriend. Girls would wear this ring around their necks with yarn or on their fingers.”
Mom, dated in the 1980’s: “Dating was similar to how it is now, except online dating wasn’t as big as it is now. I think online dating allows you to fake who you are. Anyway, you would meet people at bars, school, church, work. Most of the time, I started going out with people from my friend group, switching from a group setting to a one on one setting.
We went to movies or out to eat. Your dad took me to a comedy club and to an REO Speedwagon concert. Honestly, I never had to worry about a guy putting anything into my drink at a bar, or it was really rare, not like now.”
Maybe you don’t know what you want or don’t want to commit or find dating hard to balance with everything else, so it’s easier just to avoid the whole dating thing. But let’s actually date, and get rid of this hookup culture our generation has replaced dating culture with.
Also published on Medium.