Falling in love. Finding the one. Searching for that person to spend the rest of your life with. These are all desires that have been around since that start of time. It’s even biblical! “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
The concept and desire of finding love has always been around. From Adam and Eve, to Hollywood Rom Coms – that’s one thing that has never changed over the centuries and decades. What has changed, however, is how humans seek out to find that all-important “one.”
The dating game has learnt to shift and adapt with the current times it’s been in. Dating today, compared to the past, has had to keep up with evolving social structures and new technologies that have created a constant new era of dating and relationship-building. So, let’s take a closer look at how dating has changed over time.
Courting to Find The One
For a number of past centuries, the idea of finding the perfect mate was measured against only a couple major factors – social status and genetic information, particularly in the region of reproductive abilities. Yes that’s right, people got to know one another on the basis of will we be able to produce well-rounded and healthy children to carry on our prestigious family heritage.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am talking way back in the 17th/18th centuries when courting was at the prominence of society. What is courting exactly I hear you ask? Courting is when two people are getting to know each other for the purpose of marriage. It’s basically dating with a purpose and end goal in sight.
This may sound super intense and quite a pressured environment to get to know somebody in, but it worked for a lot of people in those past years that wanted to be matched to an individual and family that was alike and mirrored their own.
Pre-martial sex was also frowned upon during the courting stage as sex was considered to only be celebrated in marriage, and for the purpose of making a family together in the confines of holy matrimony.
This, of course, made the “getting to know” courting phase very accelerated (at the risk of hormones and physical pheromones taking over and that). As long as they ticked the check-list of requirements – they were appropriately suited on a social level, the family were on board, and there was some sort of physical attraction – the ring would get onto that finger very quickly.
Do People Still Court Today?
Whilst the concept of courting is heavily associated with times of the past and an old-fashioned approach to getting to romantically know someone, there are many people who still follow this idea of courting today.
There are many cultures that have arranged marriages and are set up by their families based on the criteria we discussed earlier on.
For many, however, the idea of courting is simply dating with a purpose. Both parties enter this courtship and ‘getting to know one another stage’ with the intention of solidifying their commitment through marriage and having that same goal in mind.
Studies have shown that amongst 3000 engaged and married couples, the average amount of time between initially meeting and marriage is two years and eleven months for couples that are courting each other.
Courting Turns into Dating
Fast forward into the 20th century. The concept of courtship, even though still around in some cultures, has definitely taken the back seat for many aspiring couples, as more casual and liberated dating is becoming more and more popular.
The main difference between courting and dating is the mutual end destination of marriage and having a less rigid mindset as to what the outcome of your relationship ends up being. This can help take the pressure out of the direction in which the relationship is taking, and allow for more space and freedom to really get to know one another on a deeper emotional, mental and physical level.
This means dating couples tend to go on more date nights and outings to discuss their interests and assess their mutual compatibility. They want to measure how well they work together as individuals, rather than focusing on checking off a list of qualities that make them perfect for each other only on paper.
This also gives room for more of a friendship to develop alongside a romantic relationship, for couples to feel like they are investing in a best friend as well as a romantic partner. Dating couples very often live together and share the same space, and even start families together without taking that extra step towards marriage.
The New Age of Online Dating
If you’re still not sure how dating has changed over time, just look around! Meeting someone in the present day has never been easier with so many online dating sites and free online apps to explore, it’s been made simple to meet your soulmate from the comfort of your own sofa.
Virtual dating can be used to filter down and narrow your search to meet the exact criteria you are looking for in a person. It definitely takes the stress and hassle out of putting yourself out there and trying to meet someone at a bar or through mutual friends.
Some may say this takes the romance and excitement out of meeting your other half, whereas others think it saves a lot of time, effort, and unnecessary heartache. Whatever your opinion may be, online dating has definitely taken prominence in the dating world and is proving increasingly popular amongst singles in the search for love.
The dating world has definitely changed over the years and evolved with the times to suit the demands and expectations of human beings in the present, as well as modifying to meet the standards of new technologies and mindsets.
One thing that has stayed the same throughout, however, is the desire to meet your perfect match and fall madly in love with that special someone. Our innate nature as humans makes it difficult to ignore and suppress this need to be loved and give love to others.
So whether it’s through old-fashioned courting, casual dating, or using new age tech to find the one – the search for true love continues through the ages.
Kay is in her 50′s, is divorced with grown sons, and has been back in the dating game for 5 years. She’s met a surprising assortment of men from online dating sites, many of whom were very nice but just not right for her. Some remain friends. She now refuses to meet anyone at Starbucks