- Marriages were often arranged between families, and rarely were the result of love.
- Thanks to the influence of The Enlightenment and its dialectical struggle with Romanticism, the feelings' role in human relationships intensified.
- In the middle of the 20th century, in the 60s, the hippie movement took hold. They had a saying that went "if it feels good, do it".
It’s no secret that social networks have taken control of lots of important parts of our lives, so it is not idle to question the quality of our social relationships in the modern age. Were dates in the past more romantic than now? Are we witnessing the era when love as a concept comes to an end? Is conquering your date’s heart no longer necessary? Some answers following.
The art of love in ancient western culture
We can start our journey to the past in Ancient Greece and Rome. Movies and books about Roman times give us a romantic picture of the unshaken bonds uniting people. But the truth is, the concept of marriage as we see it now did not even exist then! And the “marriage” they had certainly wasn’t the pinnacle of love you can express as a couple. The woman, as in many ancient cultures, occupied the role of a parent and a housekeeper. Marriages were often arranged between families, and rarely were the result of love.
On many occasions, marriage was nothing more than a political tool. Why conquer a woman that belongs to you, the one you inherited or exchanged for some goods or influence? The answer is obvious, men didn’t go to great lengths to impress women. But in a culture where bisexuality was a common practice, the art of dating gained greater gallantry in the conquest of one man towards another of the same class (that was more of a Greek trait, but still).
The female pleasure as a concept made no sense to the morality of ancient times. There were some exceptions, of course, like Cleopatra, whom many men would love to please. But a romantic relationship was a rarity, concupiscence took its place instead.
Dating concept in the early 20th century
After the French Revolution in 1789, many transformations in the social order occurred. Among said transformations, the paradigm of love is also changed: since freedom took centre stage, love, pleasure, and marriage united together into a single concept of a true relationship between men and women.
Thanks to the influence of The Enlightenment and its dialectical struggle with Romanticism, the feelings’ role in human relationships intensified. And so the idea of Prince Charming was born, which today is still not completely renounced. In a new language, that of courtship, romantic appointments took place, between dances, gatherings, and evenings. Here throwing a handkerchief, the gifts of a splendid fashion, and the way of fanning oneself, took the place of romantic confessions. It happened before, even in the Middle Ages, but now that kind of love wasn’t exclusive to the aristocracy – common folk tasted it too.
But the prince charming that many are still waiting, sharing the values of the XVIII century, was not the husband and the father. Rather it’s figure was more like a fop (which is a word that refers to the socially permitted lover in the nobility in the absence of the husband for work, military or any other reason). He had to be in charge of pleasing the lady he professed a devout affection to and satisfying her sexual whims. This prototype of the man of your dreams comes from the Enlightenment, not from knights of the Middle Ages. A guy like that knew how to dance, studied in sciences, knew the world, and always looked very well-groomed.
For centuries the role of a maiden who must be protected, defenceless and pure, was designated to women. For the man, the culturally acceptable role was that of a gentleman, capable of bowing his knee and swearing eternal love. At the beginning of the 20th century, a handwritten letter, glances, a dance, and a flower were the ideal way to formalize a courtship. Once love had been declared before the family, under the chaperone’s eye, the rules were strict about agreeing on outings and visits.
In the middle of the 20th century, in the 60s, the hippie movement took hold. They had a saying that went “if it feels good, do it”. Applied to the dating world, it transformed to “have sex with the one you like, no one owns anyone”. There exists a likely hypothesis that influenced by this culture, for the first time in centuries, the woman began to take the first step in love affairs during dating.
Although dating etiquette started to become less strict, ye olde customs such as men paying the full bill remained. Courting was shortened, and premarital sex became widespread. With the skyrocketing increase in telephone customers in the late 1960s, the first dating mediators emerged. Psychological test testing the possible compatibility of the people were adopted companies matching people together, for a small fee, of course. Traditional door-to-door matchmaking almost became a thing of the past.
Dating in internet times
From 1995 to date, the use of the Internet has grown exponentially. At the same time, the hours we can dedicate for our personal lives has dramatically decreased. A smart solution is to find space for love online since we spend an important part of the day communicating over the Internet.
Despite the wide variety of dating sites and romantic opportunities, according to this site, many millennials complain that dating can be frustrating and difficult. We can’t be totally sure about the reason. Still, the expectation that everything will work out with minimal effort applied could be the root of the problem. Can anyone imagine that with all our progress and technology, an attitude like that could still persist and thrive?
Well, the more freedom you have, the better chances of finding love with an equal partner you can pursue. The passive, uncreative and conformist attitude can be a sign that you can do better if you look in different places. Modern online dating aims to make sure that a human being of the XXI century could succeed in their private life and find someone they are destined to without stress.