Millennials are under assault again. Last month, The New York Times published “The End of Courtship?” an article detailing the shift in dating culture amongst Generation Y, classified as those born between the latter 1970s and the mid-1990s. The piece compared the courting rituals of baby boomers and Generation Xers to our technology-driven culture and determined that the dating customs of our parents and grandparents are no longer applicable now.
Reporter Alex Williams utilized interviews with millennials seeking relationships, as well as, the plot framework for HBO’s hit, “Girls,” to depict a dismal dating world. According to Williams, text messaging has replaced traditional communication and restaurants are empty because Gen Yers are caving to carnal impulses, instead of placing the horse before the carriage.
However, what the writer and those interviewed fail to note is though millennials have subverted dating rituals, we have not eradicated tradition.
One of the interviewees, Shani Silver, asserted that the word “date” should be eradicated from the dictionary because it’s extinct.
“Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret,” she told Williams.
However, her experience doesn’t mirror all millennials. As writer and cultural critic Rhiannon Lucy Cosslet eloquently details, “romance hasn’t so much died as changed its trousers, and just because young women are doing things on a more equal basis rather than relying on men to take us to fancy French restaurants, doesn’t mean we’re not falling in love as much as ever.”
This is especially relevant among college students. MyDateSchool discovered that 54 percent of Ivy League students prefer a traditional dinner for their first date. A majority statistic indicates that millennials are still persistent about courting before committing.
The writer also faults the decline in courtship to the regard for the “hookup culture,” where spontaneous romantic flings lead to commitment-free arrangements.
“Many students today have never been on a traditional date,” professor and author Donna Freitas told Williams. “Young people today don’t know how to get out of hookup culture.”
This is accurate. Hooking up is prominent among millennials, but it has also been prevalent in previous generations, including the sexual revolution among hippies. Hooking up did not impact their generation and millennials are deserving of similar respect for our sexual agency.
The emergence of technology as the primary form of communication is also blamed.
“Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of ‘asynchronous communication,’ as techies call it.”
However, what isn’t noted is that different isn’t necessarily an eradication of tradition. Most men are not asking the father’s permission to date his daughter and as the Match.com commercial often spews, one in three relationships begin on the popular website. But millennials are resorting to technology because it fits our lives. Texting instead of calling, spending time at the café instead of expensive bistros, and meeting online rather than raves is suitable for our hectic lives. Some millennials are beginning their careers, so our time is limited. Technology has enabled us to communicate without sacrificing precious minutes.
Researchers have discovered that romance is essential to most human’s lives; so though courtship has evolved, it hasn’t ended. Its appearance is different.