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Why I Wish I Grew Up in the 50's

I am a big believer in the idea that we are exactly where we need to be, but sometimes I like to wonder. Where would I be if I had been born in the 40’s, growing up in the mid 1950’s, an iconic time for America, a decade often associated with the “American Dream” in a post WWII era. 

Dating took a turn after the war, focusing on “going steady” with a push toward marriage. With nearly 250,000 men not returning from war, dating had a much more serious focus than it had in pre war culture. To put it simply, ladies were left with significantly less fish in the sea. With the introduction of “the pill” in the 60’s, women took their sexuality into their own hands, allowing for more sex with fewer consequences, sparking the feminist movement and leaving a permanent mark on dating culture. Fast forward to 2016, where dating tends to be much foggier subject than it was in a post war era. This is my attempt to analyze the dating norms of today to see what we can learn from dating culture sixty years ago.

What did dating look like in the 50’s?

  • Guys always did the asking.
  • Men did not ask women on a date unless they had interest in intentionally courting her, leaving little to no confusion of the other persons intentions.
  • If a woman was asked on a date, it was her duty to reply immediately.
  • If the date was over a meal, the women would tell her guy what she wanted and he would order for her. 
  • Men would always pick up their date, and introduce himself to her parents. 
  • Men always paid for their date. Period. 

Dating norms in 2016:

  • Women totally have the same right to ask men out. Go females.
  • We live in this awkward state of “What are we?” for often months at a time & the word “date” often implies too much commitment. Why use labels?
  • The timing of replying is like a sort of game. If you reply too quickly, you look desperate & if you take too long to reply, you look uninterested.
  • Women are strong independent creatures who don’t need their man to talk for them. 
  • Getting to the location is typically done on your own and parents are rarely involved in the “courting” experience unless the relationship becomes serious (but we avoid commitment like the plague).
  • This awkward exchange happens where everyone is uncomfortable because of this notion that a woman can take care of herself & a man paying for her meal or coffee would somehow be infringing on her independence.

The feminist movement has put men and women on a more even playing field in regards to gender roles. Solid; but not the point. I think the largest missing piece in our dating culture that was so incredibly present in the 50’s is respect. Women were valued and treated like the beautiful flowers that they are and although men were “in charge” women were really calling the shots. I mean, women were the ones who decided if they would give the man pursuing her a chance at all. 

In our hookup culture, the level of respect for the other person is put on hold, while we let selfish desires take priority. We are afraid of commitment and so terribly afraid of having one amazing human to intimately share life with. In our go go go lifestyle, there isn’t time for maintaining a one on one relationship; so we go from one hookup to another, simply “talking” or “having a thing” with one person or another, floating in this state of uncertainty. 

We all have this longing to be fully known and fully loved, but without vulnerability and respect, we end up falling short of that desire, settling for one or the other. The opposite of commitment is self-absorption, and fully committing to another person involves giving up selfish desire and selflessly loving, which is a real challenge for millennials, a challenge I think we should be willing to take. 

Should we go back to EXACTLY how things were in the 50’s in regard to dating culture? Probably not. But there is so much value in learning from the past. Things weren’t perfect then and they certainly aren’t perfect now, but ladies and gentlemen, we are worth so much more than we are allowing ourselves.