Dating is a constant dance, both between two potential lovers and between what was normal and what is today. Every generation can look back condescendingly on their parents and forward disgusted at their children. There may not be any ironclad rules or unfairness in love and dating, but this generation definitely has its own social mores.
Technology definitely plays a role, and the open and fast-paced nature of modern life makes changes quick and people honest. The old rules just don’t apply like they used to. Let’s discuss some of the more common practices that have become normal over the past few years.
Clothes Still Make the Man
No matter what the modern world may say about gender equality, men are still judged on their status symbols. No matter what a woman may say about how appearances don’t matter, a man who shows up looking slovenly is going home by himself. Even sideburns, a good haircut and clothes that look lived in but not homeless are the basics a man needs to live up to.
If you want to look above average, you need to spend a little more and get very creative. Perception is reality, and if you dress “average” that’s exactly how you’ll be treated.
Online Dating is Huge
One in five singles has gone online looking for dates. China leads the world with 140 million online daters, and Japan was the first country to release a smart phone app to help singles meet each other out and about. The world is full of people sitting in front of computers, and if not for online dating our species might not be able to breed anymore.
When you consider that the average length of courtship is 42 months when a couple meets offline and less than 19 months when they meet online, the raw efficiency of meeting your mate online becomes clear.
Virtual Intimacy Is the Norm
People today are more comfortable in front of their web cams than any generation has ever been before. People will post nearly nude pictures of themselves for the entire world to see, and text pictures to their friends of them doing lascivious things without any inhibition at all. But that isn’t the only way intimacy has soaked into the virtual world.
Often a woman will become close to what a man through e-mailing and chatting with him online. This virtual intimacy will cause her to sleep with him, even unprotected, very early in their relationship. Unfortunately, this connection is often an illusion with nothing to back it up in real life.
Dating Ages Are Based on Gender Perceptions
Often, a girl will date men five to ten years older than she is because females are perceived to be more mature than males. However, they will turn around and criticize a man who dates women substantially younger than he is. Men have to either take this criticism on the chin and ignore it or seriously limit their dating prospects by age range.
Chivalry Is Alive and Well
Women are used to men who consider them equals in everything. Women have good jobs, start great businesses and buy homes without any man’s help. However, a lot of women still hold out the fantasy that a man will open the door for them, walk them home without expecting to be let in, and pay for the majority of their dates. Call it sexist or old-fashioned, but men are expected to get out of the frat boy mentality at some point.
There Is Required Reading for Dates
These days there are some things you need to know to seem like you haven’t been studying the underside of a rock. First off, you need to get the culture. If a celebrity did something especially interesting last week, you should have at least heard about it. You don’t have to tweet or follow Twitter, but you need to know how it works.
In most cities, being a dater means having some knowledge of the local indie band scene. Not knowing things like that means you’re too mainstream or that you just don’t get the culture. Rather like knowing what looks good in clothing and hair, understanding the current events and celebrity landscape means you pass the test of paying attention to and being part of the world at large. There’s only one acceptable answer to, “Are you on Facebook?”
Taking Home the Point
If you want to date nowadays, some rules are perennial. You need to take good care of yourself, you need to be connected to the rest of the world, and you need to understand that chivalry is great. Be strong, don’t be afraid to date women of any age group that interests you — as long as they’re legal — and you’ll be fine.
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