This article was originally published at the Washington Examiner.
In the 1950s, that oft-ridiculed era when women all over the country were purportedly miserable, marriage proposals were so common women had to turn down several potential husbands before deciding on the right one.
That was certainly the case for my mother, who was born in 1930. As a young girl, I would find countless love letters from Charlie, George, Frank—and others whose names I can’t recall—that all contained marriage proposals. They were stored in my mother’s memory box, and I would sift through them and marvel at what it was like to have so many men pining for you.
This may strike us as quaint, but in the past dating was serious business. Although it wasn’t really dating, per se. It was courtship. Courtship implies a purpose, whereas dating does not.
Sadly, courtship died in the 1960s, when a perfect storm erupted. The FDA’s approval of the birth control pill, combined with the sexual revolution—when women were encouraged to have sex “like a man”: no strings attached—permanently altered the mating dance.
With the risk of pregnancy lifted, and the ever-increasing narrative that women are just as capable of and interested in commitment-free sex, marriage proposals vanished. Why invest in lasting love if women neither want nor demand it?
And women don’t. Or at least, they say they don’t. For years women have been encouraged to avoid not only marriage but any semblance of a relationship on the grounds it will interfere with their career. And men heard that message loud and clear.
“Over and over,” notes Alexandra Solomon, a psychologist who teaches a course at Northwestern University called Marriage 101, “my undergraduates tell me they try hard not to fall in love during college, imagining that would mess up their plans.”
This new attitude women harbor—not just in college but throughout their twenties—is in large part why dating is dead, and why it has subsequently been replaced with the ‘hookup,’ which, Solomon notes, is “intended to be purely physical in nature and involves both parties shutting down any communication or connection that might lead to an emotional attachment.”
What madness! On what planet does a human being want to shut down connection? Are we no different from animals?
Sex is serious business. If we’ve learned nothing else from the #Metoo movement, we’ve learned this. If we’re no longer going to reserve sex for marriage, may we at least agree to reserve it for love?
Our marriage or romantic life represents the single most important investment we make. It determines the direction our lives will go, as well as our overall happiness and well-being. Jobs come and go, and we survive it. But we do not survive, emotionally speaking, one failed relationship after another.
As of this writing, 51% of Americans between the ages of 18-34 is unattached. These men and women need purpose in their dating lives. They need courtship, which is simply dating with an end goal: marriage. But they’ve not been taught how to date. “’Hooking up,'” adds Solomon, “has all but replaced traditional, old-school dating rituals.”
Indeed it has, and it’s time we changed that.
Below are 8 dating rules for women who want to date with purpose.
- Let him chase you. If the goal is marriage, don’t be the hunter—be the hunted. Too many women jump into the male role and then wonder why their relationships don’t work out. When a guy is “into” you, you will know it. If the guy you like isn’t the one doing the chasing, if he doesn’t think you’re the best thing since sliced bread and doesn’t move mountains to go out with you, he’s not your man. Watch the film “He’s Just Not That into You,” and it’ll all make sense.
- Don’t offer to pay. Offering to pay your half of the date cheapens the experience and makes it feel no different from two friends grabbing a bite. A date is supposed to be different. Just because you’re capable of paying your way doesn’t mean you should. Since the guy (presumably, as per Rule #1) asked you out, let him pay. Learn to receive graciously.
- Never have more than two drinks. The purpose of a date is to get to know the other person, and you can’t do that if you’re drunk. I also want you to follow Rule #6, and it will likely be broken if you have that third drink. How many women do you know who hook up with guys while they’re sober? Exactly. So be smart, and stop at drink two.
- Dress and act like a lady. Don’t be the fun, drunk party girl. A man will date—he’ll certainly have sex with!—the party girl, but he won’t marry her. Party girls are the women guys date until they find the one who’s marriage material. Be that girl.
- Don’t tell the men you date how smart and successful you are. Men don’t care how smart and successful you are. It’s not that they aren’t interested in what you do for a living, but they will notice if your career is your life. That’s not a selling point. Instead, talk more about your values and your dreams and your interests. And focus on him rather than on you. That shows you have room for him in your life.
- Don’t have sex with him on the first, second or twentieth date. It is very rare for a couple to establish a healthy, lasting marriage or relationship if the sex came first. If the goal is lasting love, having sex with a guy before the relationship has been established and is exclusive will not get you where you want to go. Focus on creating the bond first. The love comes first, and the sex comes later. And love doesn’t happen overnight.
- Give him space (and live your own life in the meantime). Never begrudge a man who wants to spend time alone or with his friends. It’s a great sign if he can do these things, and you should do them, too.
- Move on if he can’t commit. A great rule of thumb for deciding when it’s time to jump ship is that if your guy hasn’t proposed by the middle of year two, he’s probably not going to. Too many women waste years of their lives thinking they can talk a boyfriend into marriage or hope he’ll change his mind down the road. Women who master the 8 dating rules don’t have to talk man into anything. He’ll be dying to marry you.