Order in the courtship: In (semi) defense of the man brand

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Laura Bedrossian.

Caveman-and-computer-520x345The new date is “hanging out,” according to a recent article in The New York Times on why courtship is dying (or is already dead, depending on who you talk to.) Being an unattached, millennial female living in New York City myself, Alex Williams’ “The End of Courtship” certainly struck a chord with me—though perhaps not the one intended.

Technology is named in this particular blame game for how the modern male is able to hide behind vague and non-committal electronic messages, rather than just by directly asking a girl out. The result, the article posits, is that traditional ideas on dating are being replaced by a much more casual hookup culture. In short, men of this generation have traded in the traditional dinner and a movie date with hanging out, text messages and social media correspondences. 

The article points to three big items that I have trouble digesting:
1.    Young people now live in a culture where traditional dating has been largely replaced with casual and vague hook ups
2.    There is a serious lack of real communication and/or too much technology involved in communication of young people
3.    Young men are getting lazy with their date ideas

However, looking around at my fellow millenials, and men in particular, I find the article to be unfair. I know plenty of men who still take the traditional spin on dating. Sure, communication has become a bit more confusing with emails and texting, but I know of more men who still directly ask people out on dates than I do men who just subscribe to an all-hook-up-all-the-time mentality. My guess is that it’s the sheer number of ways we now have to connect cause confusion, but this doesn’t mean chivalry is dead. Chivalry just texts now, too.
And for the still fair amount of men who prefer the casual hookup – is this actually new? I know plenty of women who prefer that, too. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but if a woman prefers someone who will wine and dine her…can’t she just not engage with someone asking to do otherwise?
Case in point, the article quotes a woman who says she began a series of hookups with someone she liked. Was someone stopping her from just ending the relationship if she did not like what was happening? Instead, let’s call it like it is – both people choose to engage in the behavior. If you don’t like the behavior or the direction the relationship is taking, you can stop it and find someone more on your page. This is not new. These have been the rules of dating, well, for forever.

If courtship is ending, it is because we are all allowing it to do so. Not just men.  And not just women. If one doesn’t want to just hook up, don’t.

The one item I definitely agree with? “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.” Maybe Siri will be able to help with this sometime in the future? (For all you history nerds: Maybe she’ll crack the code faster than the Brits did with Enigma). So decode this for the tech savvy women, Siri: If you want to be courted, act like it.

26 thoughts on “Order in the courtship: In (semi) defense of the man brand

  1. I’ll ask, but I know the former Congressdog is preparing an op-ed timed for Ground Hog Day suggesting a qualified canine replace Punxsutawney Phil.

  2. Thanks so much JMarkGreen. The first few months can be a trying experience for many new employees. That’s why it’s so critical to give it time. We actually lost one employee who quit the afternoon of her first day of work. Must have been one wicked morning for that young lady.

  3. Hold on, Julie. I thought Laura’s blog was about canine courting in the era of social media. We’re talking about men and women? Well, that’s a horse (or pooch) of a different color.

  4. I believe that decency, common courtesy, and mutual respect IS an obligation if one is to consider his/herself a member of the human race.

  5. Very true, Bubbles. Please note that I did not say that she was a GOOD teacher. Unfortunately, many get the issue of women’s rights/equality just completely wrong. She was one of them. Sadly, there are others that share her opinion (clearly, not me . . . and not my school since I believe she was fired after one year).
    What you taught your kids is what everyone should be doing that–it’s just called being polite/thoughtful. More people need to do that!

  6. Laura your teacher sounds like a wacko…. or a misandrist and that’s a sad legacy of the women’s movement. I taught my kids to look behind and hold the door for whoever was next. Didn’t matter if it was a pregnant woman or a teenage boy. Women’s equality has nothing to do with manners and I don’t understand why, decades later people still use the “hold the door” example of women’s rights.

  7. Yes, Bubbles, but I think Julie just meant that while a man in this day and age may not be giving up his seat for a younger, healthy woman, he should be willing to do so for a pregnant woman. The same would go for a young woman sitting, she should be offering her seat to those who truly need it as well.

  8. Really good points, Catharine. I’m not sure I completely agree with you on the respect issue, mainly because of the issue of gender equality.
    A teacher once told my class that if a man holds a door for you it’s because he’s asserting that he is stronger than you. We were advised not to stand for that since we are clearly capable of opening a door and aren’t fragile flowers. I don’t agree with that teacher’s point, since I think men who do that have been raised with more traditional manners. I don’t believe their intention is to let me know that they are stronger (though perhaps those are the origins of the tradition). On that same tact, I don’t expect anyone to offer me their seat on the subway, but I have seen men (and young women) allow an elderly person, pregnant woman or someone with young children take their seats–though I have also seen that NOT happen.
    With that said, I think you’re right, you do have to be cautious about ulterior motives. It comes with age and going on more dates than you care to discuss, but you start to get a sense for those who are genuinely chivalrous and those who are out for something more.

  9. Julie: A man has no more obligation to give his seat to a pregnant woman or an elderly person than a woman does. And I, as a healthy woman I have no more right to a seat than a healthy man.

  10. Unfortunately, negative fall-out from the women’s movement taught men that in order to treat a woman equally, he should relinquish common courtesy and respect, like giving up a subway seat to a pregnant woman.

  11. As a 24-year-old single girl, I have come to realize that most men really aren’t chivalrous. As much as I’d love to think differently, one ride in a New York subway proves that men today do not treat women with the same respect shown in years past. I can’t count the number of times I’ve offered my seat to another person even though the majority of seats taken are by able-bodied men. 30 years ago, however, those seats would have been readily abandoned without a second thought.
    When a guy DOES show that he’s chivalrous by offering his seat, holding a door, buying your drink, etc., it almost seems disingenuous. Maybe it’s cynical, but I just can’t help but think these men have ulterior motives.

  12. RepMan…Alas, ’twas a different Sam. I can’t really weigh in on dating. I married my first girlfriend, and we were friends for years before we started dating. And I didn’t have a cell phone WAAAYYY back when we started dating, so I had to call her on the phone. But we call it courtin’ round these parts…

  13. Great stuff, Sam. BTW, I believe in your neck of the woods, courtship used to be called sparking. Is there a texting version of sparking? Spexting, perhaps?

  14. I couldn’t have said it better myself, Sarah. Fantastic points and advice. The way to keep “old fashioned” dating around is to stop acing desperate. Just because you get a bite in the dating pool, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Throw it back if it’s not what you’re looking for.

  15. I know, Julie. One would think that with the seemingly endless ways we can all communicate with one another, it wouldn’t be this difficult. At least relationship authors will still have plenty of topics to write about . . .

  16. I find it fascinating that with all the technology, social media, and new ways of interacting at our fingertips 24/7 that men & women still have problems communicating their intentions honestly.

  17. I couldn’t have said it better myself, Sarah. Fantastic points and advice. The way to keep “old fashioned” dating around is to stop acing desperate. Just because you get a bite in the dating pool, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Throw it back if it’s not what you’re looking for.

  18. Couldn’t agree more. In all arenas of life, you are consistently treated as you consistently signal you will allow. Doesn’t matter if its a coworker, a family member, your dog or a new love interest. We fall prey to this myth of scarcity and cling to every just-not-that-interested boy that is willing to toss a text our way. Respond to texts with phone calls if you need to…learn to say no to an email reading, “I’ll see you there” and actually say what you want. ::phone rings:: “Hi, Andy, not really feeling that bar right now, but I’d consider dinner at this new Thai place.” Learn to walk away from the “deal” if it isn’t a good one.

  19. Thanks for reading, Sam! No I have not heard of this book, I will definitely have to check it out.
    I love the Aziz clip. A good reminder that men are just as confused as women are in terms of communicating with the opposite sex.

  20. Laura,
    Did you see the book “Flirtexting: How to Text Your Way to His Heart” that was published a few years ago? (http://www.amazon.com/Flirtexting-How-Text-Your-Heart/dp/1602393672)
    Perhaps it’s because I much prefer older fashioned notions of dating, but I feel like that if men started this trend of undercommunicating, then women have perfected it. Here is a great insight to how (some) men feel about texting with girls, in the immortal words of Aziz Ansari:

  21. Well said, Nicole! I completely agree. I don’t think dating and chivalry are dead, just more high-tech at this point.
    In terms of your “common sense” comment, I definitely agree. It reminds me of some good advice I heard on TLC’s “What Not to Wear”, you should be dressing for the job you want. It doesn’t work perfectly in this instance, but if you want to be dating someone rather than hooking up, act like it.

  22. I agree with your perspective, Laura. I know plenty of men who are still chivalrous and respectful. However, we know as well as anyone that a dissatisfied customer is always more vocal than one who is content, which is why this stigma around a lack of chivalry seems to be so rampant.
    Like digital music and ebooks, chivalry must also evolve with the times. As much as I would like to have a knight in shining armor on a white horse, I will now have to settle for today’s equivalent of a text or Facetime call goodnight and paying the bill at dinner. Just because “gentlemanly” gestures are different, it doesn’t mean they are any less thoughtful.
    Dating, like most things in life, is about choices and common sense. If women want a man who is chivalrous, chances are they won’t meet him after midnight at a crowded bar after two tequila shots.
    Great post!

  23. Thanks for reading, Alex. The hang-out/day-date to me is much different than the casual hookup relationship. In terms of ending the date early, whatever happened to getting the random emergency phone call from a friend strategically during the date?

  24. A similarly unattached millennial female once advised that the hang-out / day-date was the new first date. This gives both parties an easy way to end the date early in case sparks aren’t flying. Even without technology, people love to stay uncommitted for as long as possible.