Alex Williams’ piece "The End of Courtship" in last Sunday’s New York Times, centering largely on the personal experiences of several millennials as they wade their way through online dating has been met with much contest. He argues that, “'dates' among 20-somethings resemble college hook-ups, only without the dorms.”
I don’t disagree entirely with the sentiments expressed by Williams, although one glance at his white haired bio picture would suggest that he is a decidedly non-millenial and therefore, I hope to God, has not participated in said hookups with 20-somethings. He is likely unable to grasp the nuances of the new courtship-the ease and speed we have brought to it as a way of keeping safe our time and money.
It’s not so much that courtship is over; it’s that like anything-it is evolving. Courtship, “may be an informal and private matter between two people or may be a public affair, or a formal arrangement with family approval” and one could argue, it begins with our ancestors reaching blindly for each other on the dirt floor of a cave. So yes, it has changed a fair bit since then and will continue to do so. Williams says, “relationship experts point to technology as another factor in the upending of dating culture.”
Uh, yes. True. Not mind-blowing. Technology changes things. We order food from Seamless. We find dates online. We DVR TV shows. This is how the world works.
Let me bring this into my own life because I’m a raging narcissist. Just kidding. ANYWAY. I recently made an OKcupid profile which I will now tell you I made in order to research this article and I will be lying. One of my friends was making one and I had FOMO about not having one. So I gave it a try. Aside from being an instant ego boost, online shopping for men is cheaper than online shopping for clothes. Last week, I went on two dates; one on Wednesday night, one on Thursday. I was nervous about both. I successfully freaked my friends out when they asked me where I was meeting Wednesday man and I answered with, “my apartment.” I was joking, obviously. (I’m pretty sure my mom who is undoubtedly reading this just had a baby stroke.) In reality, I met them both at normal, nice after work bars-one in West Village, in New York City, the other in Midtown. I told them both this was the first time I had been on an online date. I was only lying to one of them. I would say both dates were successes, two drinks paid for by not me (although I did offer ... I’ve been told that the “check dance” is very important.) These dates both shifted inevitably to the topic of online dating and how inherently weird it is. It is weird in the way that people thought the first cell phone was weird and unnecessary. It is weird, but millenials do it.
Some of these people find love, and others have a nice time and good conversation and call it a night, and a very, very small minority end up in a ditch. The thing is, the way we meet each other may be unconventional, and if I can be “courted” by putting up a picture of my face and saying in my "about me" section that I am “really good at tying knots,” then so be it. But really we are still animals and “courtship” (and it’s ever expanding meaning) comes down to the same things it has always come down to. The same things that mattered on the floor of the aforementioned cave, pheromones, how the other person moves, the sound of a voice, the way a person treats other people. These are the important things, the things we will never get through a screen.