All the dates have, it seems, been canceled. Forever.
Dating has been in decline for some time now. Young men and women no longer go out as couples for dinner and movies. Now it’s all about staying in for Netflix & Chill. Rather than suffer the tension of a few awkward moments one on one, young people hang out in groups and hooking up for random, noncommittal fondling.
This shift is both a symptom and a cause of the pervasive confusion between the sexes, the confusion out of which so many families struggle to be born.
Let’s examine what dating was, what it required of each party. First, the man had responsibilities. He had to come up with a plan, pick a place to go and a time to go there. He had to make any other arrangements required.
Then he had to do the riskiest thing. He had to walk up to the young lady of his choice and ask.
At that point, the responsibility shifted to her. She was required to answer honestly. Whether she agreed or declined the date, she was expected to answer straight.
The end result was an event that, at best, might mark the beginning of a family, at worst become, in time, a funny memory.
All that’s mostly gone now.
Now, romantic relationships, such as they are, are born out of a murky miasma based on the assumption that men and women have no distinct roles, that we are, essentially, interchangeable. Dates don’t happen, in part, because no one knows who should initiate and who should respond. So, the whole process degrades into an undefined pool of uncertainty and desire. Instead of requiring the honest declaration of intentions, the new arrangement breeds cowardice.
Both parties can creep toward relationships under the cover of being “just friends” or “friends with benefits”. The formality of dating has given way to a pervasive casualness that requires nothing of anyone and produces little but fruitless sexual pleasure and hurt feelings.
A lot depends on reversing the current trend. The older system of dating, while far from perfect, required a greater level of risk, a greater level of formality and clearer roles and boundaries. All these are things that strengthen families. The older style of mate selection through dating worked as practice for regular family life.
The relationship-by-accident system now in place functions on ambiguity, passivity, secrecy, and chaos. All these are bad for families. Only by resisting this set-up and the forces behind it can we move back toward a process of founding families in a way that starts them on a solid foundation of honesty and character.
So, if you are a young woman here’s what you can do: turn down all those invitations to chill at some dude’s apartment. Stop going to his place and waiting to see what happens. Have standards. Expect a proper date and don’t give the pleasure of your company or your body away cheaply. Wait until all things have been done in their proper order.
Though young women can do their part, the bulk of the burden is on the men. Only men willing to take risks can really change this situation. Whether anyone likes it or not, men have traditionally been the initiators and that isn’t going to change. If the majority of men insisted on asking women for dates in that formal old-fashioned way, the majority of women would follow suit.
The problem, of course, is that most young men are clueless about how to make this change. They’ve been taught that the current arrangement is normal, the way things have always been, the only way things can be. More than that, they’ve been taught their desire for female company, for sex, for family is either creepy, shameful or dangerous, the source of “rape culture.”
If you are a young man, here’s what you do. Ask some girl out. Right now. It almost doesn’t matter who she is. Who cares if you think she will say no? It’s the asking that matters. Do it often enough that rejection losses its sting or until you get so good at it that you almost always get a yes. Remember, her opinion of you means nothing at this stage, all that matters is that you know you have something to offer and that you put it on the line. That’s what men do. Be a man.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, asking for and accepting dates is about more than you and your feelings. It’s about using wisdom to determine the character of another. It’s about getting to know others to determine whether they are equipped to help you move toward the life you want. It’s about making choices to better the lives of children and grandchildren yet to be born. It is about the business of love and connection and family. Business on which you’ve been slacking. It’s time to get to work.
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