“Thank you for meeting up tonight. I had a great time. Good night.”
I sat back and reread the text message from George, my current boyfriend, after our first date more than one year ago. It was a simple text message, but it confirmed that he, too, felt a connection. When he asked me out on a second date soon after, also via text message, I excitedly typed “Yes, what are you thinking?” never once wondering why he didn’t actually call and didn’t have a set plan in mind.
Long gone are the days of over-the-top first dates and awkward phone conversations with new interests. Now “hang-out sessions” and casual dates are proposed via Facebook, instant messages and texts, which some experts say is leaving an entire generation confused on how to date.
“I’ve seen men put more effort into finding a movie to watch on Netflix Instant than composing a coherent message to ask a woman out,” said Anna Goldfarb, 34, in a recent New York Times article appropriately titled “The End to Courtship?”
Many 20-something Millennials are stuck in a hook-up culture where a “Hey, what are you up to?” Facebook message is more normal than picking up the phone and suggesting a dinner and a movie. And with all of us, Millennial or not, exposed to the investigative power of social media and technology, a first date really isn’t even a first date after all. A simple Google search can easily answer questions you would automatically ask about someone’s job status or education.
You would think that online dating, especially through a faith-oriented site like CatholicMatch, would be an exception to this trend, but as the writer of the article explains, online dating can quickly turn into virtual speed dating, another sign that courtship is long gone.
“It’s like online job applications, you can target many people simultaneously — it’s like darts on a dart board, eventually one will stick,” Joshua Sky, 26, told the Times. The mass-mailer approach necessitates “cost-cutting, going to bars, meeting for coffee the first time,” he added, “because you only want to invest in a mate you’re going to get more out of.”
Our troubled economy is yet another reason that singles veto the white table cloths and overly-attentive waiters, and both genders are still unsure about how to approach a member of the opposite sex without knowing his or her opinion on traditional gender roles.
The many success stories featured on this blog suggest that courtship is still alive and well with many Catholics. The singles that actually pick up the phone, date with clear intention and rise above our hook-up culture reassure me that the 21st century may not be the complete end to courtship, rather a shift to a more technology-savvy dating culture.
Traditional courtship will only fade into nonexistence if we let it, and as Catholics, it’s our call to lead the charge in resurrecting a culture of courtship. Resist the urge to send that late night Facebook request to “maybe” grab a drink or a haphazard text message asking to just “hang out.” Date honorably and intentionally without relying on social media and technology as a crutch. Your future spouse will thank you later.