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, etc.
Online dating services reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. Faced with a never-ending stream of people to choose from, many just cycle through lots quickly.
That also means that suitors need to keep dates cheap and casual. A fancy dinner? You’re lucky to get a drink.
Dating currently, or as its now called, "hanging out," is all about convenience. Relationships are looked at as casual, easily thrown away, they are more disposable then they used to be. Often times, relationships are more surfacy, people put in less effort to their relationships. There is less of a sense of "we" between two people and much more of a sense of entitlement and "me" within relationships nowadays. There is almost a sense of separateness between people currently, a sort of a-for-one independence instead of the we-are-a-team mindset from years prior.
Why has this happened? Why the sad and tragic decline in romance, commitment and dating? And its interesting because a number of studies show people to be less satisfied nowadays with their experiences in dating and in terms of their contentment regarding their closeness with others.
I think it would do worlds of good if we brought back a number of "old fashioned" dating rituals. Though maybe this is just myself lamenting, but I believe this would add depth, excitement, a higher level of closeness to relationships, as well as more happiness between couples. Here are the traditions that are worth bringing back:
1. Coming to the door to pick someone up. The obnoxious "here" text could not be lazier. Sure, its convenient (as everyone seems to be about these days) but it makes a huge difference when someone comes to your door and knocks, to pick you up.
2. More limited contact and concrete plans. When one spends all day texting someone with romantic potential, what starts out as potentially exciting quickly becomes boring, anticlimactic and impersonal. There is a time and a place for texting. But one needs in-person experiences with someone to build a deeper connection. Texting within a relationship is sometimes sweet and a welcome surprise within your day, to see the person your are interested in popping up on your text feed. But there is also something to be said for texting a bit more sparingly. And instead, talking on the phone or talking about our lives when in person face-to-face on actual dates, as opposed to impersonally through a computer screen.
Also, concrete plans. Nowadays, people are flakier about plans. They want to wait until the last minute and go with whatever option is the "best" or most appealing. They might reschedule if they are "too busy." Whatever happened to making plans and keeping them? This shows respect, reliability and that one is being made a priority. And that is romantic and respectful.
3. Gentlemen manners. Men opening doors, paying sometimes for dates (though especially for the first few dates), bringing the woman her favorite flowers sometimes, or offering to cook her dinner. These are all seemingly small but actually powerful, lovely and romantic gestures. They should be practiced within all relationships :-D
4. Dressing up for dates. What happened to putting in some effort to ones appearance? Not only is this a personal confidence booster, but it also shows class and attractiveness. As well as showing a level of respect for your date in that you care about your appearance and want to look your best for them. Plus its just more fun when both of you look nice for dates. It adds to the ambiance and feeling.
5. Love letters, or poems. A hand written love letter, or poem, is incredibly romantic. It might take someone 10-30 minutes time, depending on the length of the letter and how much effort one puts in. But the payoff is well worth it. There is a good chance the recipient might save your letter forever, keeping it tucked away somewhere special, re-reading it sometimes as the years go by. This is a timeless keepsake that can impact your love interest deeply. They will never forget your words. There is a reason that there are a number of incredibly famous love letters that have been passed down, years and years, throughout history. Because they are wildly romantic. Love letters never go out of style. There is something personal and very special about them.
6. Putting away the cell phones and actually focusing on the person in front of you. This is another big one. When did it become accepted and considered good manners to half-listen to the person you are with, and even sometimes ignore them completely. As you turn your attention to a tiny screen and type away on it, taking your interest away from the human being in front of you. At its best, this is slightly irritating. At its worst, its downright offensive and obnoxious. Put away the phones, people, and give the person in front of you your full attention for the time you are with them. This is how it should be.
7. Being clear about our intentions for one another. Nowadays, everyone is often unsure. People are continually searching for the best option, or the upgrade. They always want the exit door within clear view. People like to have "friends with benefits" or just "hook up." They just "want to have fun." Many times, people do not even know what their relationship is, where its going, what intentions the other person might have, etc.
This often leads to confusion, more insecurity and discontentment. There is something much sexier, satisfying and more wonderful about being clear with one another regarding our feelings and intentions. Yes, it takes courage, but the payoff is a happier relationship with both people on the same page.
8. Giving gifts and tokens of affection. Flowers, his or her favorite dessert, a pretty pair of earrings or his favorite kind of snack food, a surprise weekend away together, a new book that you spotted and knew he/she would like, etc. All of these gestures equal MAXIMUM romance. They will leave memories and wonderful feelings in the recipient, long after you have given them the gift. Giving gifts and tokens of affection is romantic, generous, reinforces the feelings between the two of you.
9. The man, planning as well as paying, for the evening out with a woman. This is traditional and chivilrous. It shows that the man is interested in the woman and wants to make a good impression.
10. Putting in effort, and making something special out of your dates. When someone is important to you, its important to show them this. Often. That means putting in some effort (whether you have been dating for 4 months, or 9 months, or 2.4 years or 7 years, etc). Thinking up ways to make him/her feel loved, to surprise them, considering their likes and dislikes, gestures both small and sometimes large to show this person their importance in your life. This reinforces your bond, makes the other person feel loved, and is traditional and romantic.