Have we lost the dating game?

I feel like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City today, heading this post with some ridiculously broad and loaded-sounding question. (For a list of the funniest and most stupid of her headline questions, see Buzzfeed.) But I realised after talking with some friends recently about modern dating culture that the whole idea of asking someone out on a date has rather gone out of the window for our generation. The main way of getting together with someone these days seems to be getting very drunk and then heading back to one or the other’s house. Cue awkwardness the next day and a complete lack of awareness about whether either wanted more from it or not. Of course, this is fine and dandy if it’s all you’re looking for. But what if you wanted something more? To find people for good old-fashioned, go to the cinema or out for dinner dates, people seem to be turning more and more to websites and apps like Tinder. There’s nothing wrong with that either- I know people who have found great relationships through Tinder- but I feel sad at the idea that we’re losing the ability to just ask somebody we already know out on a date.

The conversation turned to what dating was like in our high schools. Asking people out face-to-face seemed much more common among the very young, but people who were very confident about it in their teenage years said they wouldn’t be so bold anymore. How many opportunities are we missing out on because we’re too afraid to ask?

I remembered afterwards that I actually once asked a boy out in high school. I don’t believe it was particularly common for girls to ask boys at that age, and it isn’t now either. Even for those of us who are staunch feminists, asking men out on dates is difficult not just because it’s unbelievably scary but also because you risk coming across as too aggressive, or desperate, and putting people off or giving the wrong impression. Of course, as someone pointed out, if they react that way they weren’t right in any case, but it’s added pressure on something that’s already taking a lot of guts. I do feel like us women should ask men out if we want to- I feel very sorry for men being the ones to have to pluck up the courage all these years. Although, equally, it’s been frustrating for women feeling you have to sit on the sidelines gazing at your feet until you’re asked. As with so many things, we need proper equality here: women should feel they can ask if they want to, and men shouldn’t judge them for acting outside what some might consider a ‘traditional’ role.

I’d be interested to know what other people’s experiences of dating are these days- do you ask people out face-to-face or via email/facebook/text often? Or do you adopt the, go out in a group, ply them with drink and then try and fall on them at some point late in the evening tactic? I for one would like to see more of the go slow, holding hands at the cinema kind of dating we seem to be losing in the constant rush to the bedroom. I hope I’m not too much of a romantic for the modern age.

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