Dating and intimacy in the 21st century
The committed, monogamous label of “going steady” emerged as the ideal relationship, and dating returned to its traditional role as a marital trial.Despite increased emphasis on a single relationship, “going steady” was still a very social label.The courting script was usually contained to “calling,” in which the man was invited into the woman’s parlor for conversations over tea and involved a large degree of supervision.Reputation was also an essential form of social currency that required intimate guarding.
But despite this move towards emotionally based relationships, the compatibility of matches was still strongly emphasized.
Due to this connection with the lower class, the practice was initially mistrusted by parents, but dating quickly replaced calling as the favored model of romance.
In the years preceding World War II, a popularity-based system that sociologists refer to as the “dating and rating complex” developed.
In the early days of dating, many century America was all social capital, decorum, and familial oversight.
Dating did not yet exist in the modern sense; society instead favored a courtship model which almost entirely consisted of one long, parentally-controlled audition for marriage.
This consisted of men and women attempting to construct the appearance of desirability, a feat which was accomplished by different means based on gender: Males’ reputations depended on their ability to create an impression of wealth, while the reputation of females was based on the ability to secure the interest of popular men.