It’s still January, but the New York TImes may have just published the worst piece of 2013

Alex Williams at the Times is concerned. Very. Concerned. Alex is concerned that courtship may be over — young ladies don’t get asked on dates any more, they just receive 5am texts from nightclub bouncers saying, “sup.”

MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one.

“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”

Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”

“It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.

Well, first of all, that dark-eyed musician is a dick and it sounds like he’s single for a reason. And it sounds like Ms. Silver has been on the receiving end of a lot of bad behavior! But as another 20-something woman who dates, her story doesn’t sound at all familiar. Have I encountered a few dudes who, after going on a few dates, will text me last-minute to hang out if they’re in my neighborhood? Sure, of course. But a first date of hanging out with him and his friend at a bar? Never happened. And I’ve gone on some terrible dates in my day.

Did you see what I did there? Where I mentioned that I’ve gone on lots and lots of dates? That’s because dating actually does still exist, and people do go on dates instead of texting each other incessantly. It happens! All the time!

Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.

I have never rendezvoused over text messages, Facebook posts and instant messages. I have used those forms of communication for communication, but I’ve never sat home on a Friday night Facebook messaging instead of going out with someone. And the only people I know who have done that are in long-distance relationships where they can’t get together (and they’ve had the good sense to use Skype).

Williams goes to blame “hook-up culture” (what else?) for the demise in dating:

That may explain why “dates” among 20-somethings resemble college hookups, only without the dorms. Lindsay, a 25-year-old online marketing manager in Manhattan, recalled a recent non-date that had all the elegance of a keg stand (her last name is not used here to avoid professional embarrassment).

After an evening when she exchanged flirtatious glances with a bouncer at a Williamsburg nightclub, the bouncer invited her and her friends back to his apartment for whiskey and boxed macaroni and cheese. When she agreed, he gamely hoisted her over his shoulders, and, she recalled, “carried me home, my girlfriends and his bros in tow, where we danced around a tiny apartment to some MGMT and Ratatat remixes.”

She spent the night at the apartment, which kicked off a cycle of weekly hookups, invariably preceded by a Thursday night text message from him saying, ‘hey babe, what are you up to this weekend?” (It petered out after four months.)

So Lindsay hooked up with a bouncer in Williamsburg, went back to his apartment for what sounds like a fun dance party, and then hooked up with him on and off for the next few months. That’s not the demise of dating — that’s two people banging each other for fun. It doesn’t sound like Lindsay was looking to date this guy; it sounds like they had a couple months of fun and then moved on. If I had to wager a guess, I would bet that Lindsay was going on “real” dates with other people in that same time frame. But of course that doesn’t back up this journalist’s “get offa my lawn!” thesis.

And perhaps Lindsay was looking for something more. People have been known to get into “real” relationships under all kinds of circumstances — including going home with a bouncer at 4am. And sometimes people are just looking for fun. And sometimes one person is looking for something more serious and so your desires don’t match up. That’s not the end of dating. That’s life.

Online dating services, which have gained mainstream acceptance, reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. Faced with a never-ending stream of singles to choose from, many feel a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), so they opt for a speed-dating approach — cycle through lots of suitors quickly.

That also means that suitors need to keep dates cheap and casual. A fancy dinner? You’re lucky to get a drink.

Yes, the author of this piece just tried to make “FOMO” happen.

Dodgy economic prospects facing millennials also help torpedo the old, formal dating rituals. Faced with a lingering recession, a stagnant job market, and mountains of student debt, many young people — particularly victims of the “mancession” — simply cannot afford to invest a fancy dinner or show in someone they may or may not click with.

Yes, the author of this piece just referenced the imaginary “mancession.”

Further complicating matters is the changing economic power dynamic between the genders, as reflected by a number of studies in recent years, said Hanna Rosin, author of the recent book “The End of Men.”

A much-publicized study by Reach Advisors, a Boston-based market research group, found that the median income for young, single, childless women is higher than it is for men in many of the country’s biggest cities (though men still dominate the highest-income jobs, according to James Chung, the company’s president). This may be one reason it is not uncommon to walk into the hottest new West Village bistro on a Saturday night and find five smartly dressed young women dining together — the nearest man the waiter. Income equality, or superiority, for women muddles the old, male-dominated dating structure.

Yes, the author of this piece just implied that women make more money and have more economic power than men, which is untrue if you actually look at things like “facts” and “numbers.”

Newsflash to olds: Yes, dating is different now than it was in your day. It was different in your day than it was in your parents’ day too. That is how things work. Communication is especially different, since now we have cellphones and social media — we do indeed use those things to communicate. And yes, changing gender roles mean that women don’t have to sit around waiting to be asked out, and that we get to pick what we order for ourselves off the menu. Certain aspects of dating are more casual, because people date for many more years before getting hitched. We tend to date many more people. We’re more mobile and often live away from our parents, which means we cultivate local “families” in our social circles. We don’t just want to see how well our partners get along with our biological families; we want to see how well they get along with our friends, and if we share the same values and social preferences.

It’s easy to look at that and conclude that because things are different, they’re worse. But I’m not convinced that’s the case. Are some things surely worse for some people? Definitely. Are other aspects of these changes really overwhelmingly positive? Yes. People who delay marriage until they’re in their 30s or later (and, one assumes, end up dating a wider variety of people) tend to have happier and more stable marriages once they do get married. Getting to try out lots of ways of dating — more formal dinners, first-date drinks, casual romances — can teach you quite a bit about your own preferences and desires. And a diversity of dating models means that you can pick and choose what works for you at any given time: If you’re focused on work and just want to have a little fun you can cultivate a consistent hook-up; if you want to party and meet a ton of new people you can do that; or if you’re relationship-focused you can do what the woman at the end of the piece does, and refuse to waste time with people who aren’t going to be similarly formal about dating.

Dating woes are as old as dating itself. But “dating sucks, has always sucked, can also be fun” doesn’t make a middling Times trend piece.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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116 Responses to It’s still January, but the New York TImes may have just published the worst piece of 2013

  1. Ah, the eternal “young women today, they are coming-of-age incorrectly!” trend piece. Bobbing their hair! Listening to jazz! Not choosing the first dude who comes along to be their husband! Whatever will the world come to?

    • Past my expiration date says:

      Yes, I am proud to say that my friends and I did it wrong years before “hook-up culture” and social media, so there, ha.

      • Datdamwuf says:

        Me too, proudly did it wrong, slut shaming I heard it and all the rest, sadly it hasn’t changed much. I hate this crap, there is nothing new about “hookups”, meeting people & fucking them without actually going on a “real” date. I was doing that in my teens and in my 30s, I’m 50 something, I can count on my fingers how many “real” dates I had over the years when I was single.

        The difference now is that I have a much wider group of people to meet because of the dating sites. I mean come on, is getting together for coffee a date? I don’t think so, and I don’t see the point of going on a first date to dinner, why not just do something casual that you were up for anyhow and get to know a new person without a lot of pressure?

    • rain says:

      Not choosing the first dude . . .

      What can you possibly be thinking? Section 56(2)a of The Dating Manual. Women don’t get to choose. The man chooses them. And then her father either accepts or declines.

    • matlun says:

      That was my take away (except that he seemed to be mainly complaining about young men).

      Just your standard “Oh woe! Social norms and rituals are changing! However shall we cope?” coupled with some general “Young people today…” complaining.

      Well, that and some wild extrapolating that probably gave him an incorrect picture of reality to start with.

  2. Laura C says:

    What I find maybe most perplexing about this article is that they’re still on “hook-up culture” as a culprit. Sure, this time it’s social media + hook-up culture, but hasn’t the Times been writing trend pieces about hook-up culture for, like, a couple decades now? Shouldn’t they at least be trying to give it a new name to make their lame trend pieces feel less stale?

    Also, I feel like if anything, the rise of online dating sites means people go on more, not less, actual dates than they did maybe 15 years ago. I know quite a few people who are going on like two first dates, or one first and one second date, a week (and, yes, dates where they go to a restaurant or bar with one other person). I know we’ve also seen all sorts of “the variety makes them not commit!!!” panic pieces, but in my experience there are definitely a whole lot of traditional dates happening, albeit set up through online dating sites.

    • Shannon says:

      Sure, this time it’s social media + hook-up culture, but hasn’t the Times been writing trend pieces about hook-up culture for, like, a couple decades now?

      I was just going to say this very same thing. Well, not so much about the Times, necessarily, but certainly about the hand-wringing over the hook-up culture that’s apparently taking over. When I was in my 20s about 20 years ago (gulp!) I did my own share of hooking up. We didn’t text, and we didn’t have Facebook, but we did have phones and answering machines, and we did get calls in the middle of the night from the bouncer we’d been sleeping with for a couple months who wanted to drop by after work but never took us out on a date and…okay, you get it. The point is, it’s not all the different now from what it was back then, including the fact that if people (men and women both) accept bad behavior from the opposite sex they’ll continue to get bad behavior from the opposite sex. I don’t care how artfully disheveled that musician’s hair is, a dud is a dud, but a dud isn’t necessarily a symbol of the collapse of dating.

  3. I hope that my understanding of people younger than me is based on reality, not clueless conjectures.

    Some of these writers have a very active imagination, one entirely not in synch with reality. Have they considered writing fiction?

  4. Ben says:

    Arthur Sulzberger made a pact with Satan whereby the New York Times will always be the U.S.’s paper of record so long as the Styles section remains an embarrassment.

    • FashionablyEvil says:

      Now that I think about it, there’s a good deal of evidence to support this theory. A corollary to this pact also seems to have been that any article that might deal with feminism or LGBT issues is also banished there.

    • Spelt Flake says:

      A lot of suckered buyers clamoring for the Styles pages though… To be seen in the press and to stick in a mention of something… To get a spot in the light, a whole lot of ooo’s and aaah’s, and in response, some get mobilized to spend on whatever trend, until it’s off again. Unless you’re an ascetic who doesn’t care for that sort of pampered presence or has no stake in such a participant-orientated market, not sure how Satan works its way into this. Do you mind explaining yourself, or are you too blasé for that?

  5. Kay Steiger says:

    Awesome, Jill. Also, let me just point out that the seventh paragraph of the New York Times story starts out:

    For evidence, look no further than “Girls,” HBO’s cultural weather vane for urban 20-somethings, where none of the main characters paired off in a manner that might count as courtship even a decade ago.

    Yes, for “evidence” look not further than a scripted and fictionalized show aired on a premium cable channel about privileged white women who live in New York City. Evidence!

    • zuzu says:

      Girls is the new Sex and the City in terms of being a peg on which to hang all one’s theories about What Young Women In The City Get Up To, The Sluts.

  6. JBL55 says:

    When I read this article on Sunday, I thought,”They all sound like jerks and/or idiots.”

    At the risk of waxing anecdotal, I know too many people in their twenties and thirties for whom, while they may have had an occasional incident along these lines, it is more of a “[redacted] alert” than a “trend.”

    Jerks and idiots have been around forever. The techniques of [redacted]titude vary but the human components remain the same.

    One can only wonder how the intrepid reporter found his sources.

  7. Treebeard says:

    Sounds like that guy changed his mind about wanting to go on a date with her, so invited her to hang out with his friends knowing she’d probably say no.

    • jrockford says:

      Yeah, my first reaction was, “sounds like he decided he wasn’t actually that interested and wanted a non-aggressive way of communicating that.”

      • catfood says:

        Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but that sounds like a pretty aggressive way of blowing her off.

        I’m not sure there’s a good way to cancel, but that’s not it.

      • Nadine says:

        I thought it sounded like he was having fun with his friends and he invited her to join them because he liked her & wanted to see her. :/

      • khw says:

        Honestly, it really doesn’t sound like too bad a plan to hang out with someone with their mates at a bar or pub. It’s a way to see what kind of people the mates are and how they interact in a public place. While I’m getting to know people, I would be perfectly happy to do the pub thing.

      • djiril says:

        Yeah, but it kind of sounds like they’d already planned to go on a date, and then he forgot about it and went out with his friends instead. Either that or there was a communication failure regarding the actual plans for the evening.

  8. I was unaware that when I left my boyfriend at home to eat dinner with female friends, I was becoming an object to tut-tut over about how we women can’t get a man to treat us right. Because women with partners have no other people in their lives but their man, right?

  9. Athenia says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure what this article is talking about. I did the online dating thing. I went on *dates* i.e. where the dude paid for dinner. This made me feel really uncomfortable cuz who wants to throw down even a dinner at Hardrock for *a stranger* that you may only meet once? Let alone a $200 show and jewelry?! WTF JEWELRY?

    I mean heck, regardless of what you are doing, you need to take a person aside and be like, “Are we dating seriously?” People can do this and People *are* doing this.

  10. EG says:

    Income equality, or superiority, for women muddles the old, male-dominated dating structure.

    Um…good? Because that old, male-dominated structure sucked.

    • A4 says:

      The author… so dense… gravity… time… space… warpinggnipraw …ecaps …emit …ytivarg …esned os …rohtua ehT

  11. hotpot says:

    It feels almost as if the author is just checking off boxes– every New York Times article that’s fit to print has to have a reference to a number of things– hookup culture, check. Mancession, check. Hanna Rosin, check. Girls, check. Online dating, check. Struggling Millennials, check. Like, if it can be made to somehow fit all these previously established narratives, then it must have validity. Perhaps the mancession reference is the most absurd. That referred primarily to the disproportionate amount of construction and manufacturing workers laid off in the midwest and sun belt after the burst of the housing bubble. Most of the people interviewed here seem to be upwardly mobile professionals in Manhattan. Not exactly the same group? It’s a stylistic interpretation of other stylistic interpretations, with a stylistic, melodramatic title (“The End of Courtship?”) thrown on to boot.

    “The new date is ‘hanging out,’ ” said Denise Hewett, 24, an associate television producer in Manhattan, who is currently developing a show about this frustrating new romantic landscape. As one male friend recently told her: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.”

    I even wonder if this upcoming show is the ultimate reason for this article.

    • Lolagirl says:

      It feels almost as if the author is just checking off boxes

      Yep, nailed it!

      every New York Times article that’s not fit to print has to have a reference to a number of things

      FTFY

      But, yeah, it’s like a running joke that these pieces in the NYT (and The Atlantic lately as well) start with silly and faulty premises about everyone doing it rong and then ticks off the same cliche arguments in support.

      Yawn

    • SamBarge says:

      As one male friend recently told her: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.”

      How is going to a concert or an event together not going out? I get that it’s a concert he might be going to anyway but if they go together to a concert, that is taking her “out”.

      Or does he mean that he’s not buying her ticket? It just seems that he’s contradicting his first statement with this second statement.

      But what do I know? I’m old and we didn’t have sex outside of marriage when I was single. A man who wanted to court you came by the house to drink lemonade in the front parlour on a summer’s evening. If you got serious, Ma and Pa would let you sit alone on the the front porch, where the neighbours could keep an eye on you. Now, get off my lawn, you miserable kids!

  12. Hook-up culture. It’s the new FOMOsexual agenda.

    • Lolagirl says:

      LOL!

      Funny turns of phrase are the only enjoyment to be had with this article.

      But really, what is it with the pearl clutching over people hooking up? I’m old, and was raised Catholic, so never really partook in the hooking up. And I feel totally ripped off as a result. I’m not going to tsk tsk at those who are not so unfortunate, even though I’m a tad envious. What I will do is cheer you along.

    • Past my expiration date says:

      It’s the new FOMOsexual agenda.

      I’m giggling.

    • zuzu says:

      I like my agendas to be FOMOPoMohomosexual.

    • Alexandra says:

      …FOMOsexual? I just wrapped my mind around pomosexual, I’m not up-to-date on all you hep youngsters’ new slang.

  13. Also from the article, which I’m just reading:

    “The new date is ‘hanging out,’ ” said Denise Hewett, 24, an associate television producer in Manhattan, who is currently developing a show about this frustrating new romantic landscape. As one male friend recently told her: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.”

    Oh the horror! Basing shared relationships on mutual interests and doing more than romantically gazing into each others’ eyes in total silence for hours! What’s next, relationship equality and a wife who’s allowed to leave the kitchen?

    Dogs and cats, etc.

    Seriously, I can’t think of anything more boring than a simple dinner/drinks first date for a romantic partner. Valoniel and I talk all the fucking time, but if we made A Date in which we Went Out and talked about Romantic Things, we’d be…bored in like five minutes and then go back to discussing Saiyuki or scripting riffs off Hindu mythology. Or something.

    • Caperton says:

      That’s exactly what I thought. Oh, gosh, he didn’t want to drag her out to some forgettable restaurant so they can exchange quips about how this Cobb salad differs from Other Forgettable Restaurant’s Cobb salad. He’d rather incorporate her into his life, sharing a part of himself with her while choosing an activity that would interest them both. What a loser.

    • zuzu says:

      The new date was “hanging out” when I was in college TWENTY-FIVE FRICKIN’ YEARS AGO.

    • shfree says:

      I think I can count the actual DATE dates I’ve been on on my two hands. Unless you count all the times I’ve gone out to dinner with the person I’ve been in relationships with due to sheer laziness wrt to cooking at home a date, which I don’t. Most of the time it’s involved hanging out with a bunch of friends at one social gathering or another, or just watching movies at either of our house, just the two of us, which would ultimately lead to fooling around.

      The few times I’ve been on formal dates felt almost ironic to me, in truth.

  14. Radiant Sophia says:

    I may be biased, but…
    Traditional courtship is over?
    Bye, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
    Seriously, the death of traditional dating is a GOOD thing. Finding out if you can fit into each others lives is a good thing. Sharing mutual interests is a good thing. Interacting with someone in an artificially structured vacuum (first date), not so much.
    …I did say I was biased.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone says:

      Thank you! I’m 50 and even when I was 20 I preferred splitting the costs of whatever me and my date decided to do. Usually we were both somewhat hard up for cash. So we would go get KFC and go to the park for a picnic and kite flying. Or go ride bikes or take the bus to the museums or the beach. What the hell is this person writing about? “Courtship” makes me think of fifties and sixties sitcoms , and not in a good way!

      Does that mean that people in their twenties, dating now don’t have manners/don’t treat each other right? Depends on the person, just like it always has, my daughter and her boyfriend are in college, if they want to hang out, watch TV, try cooking something new, they seem to discuss it and decide what they feel like doing. If they want to get dressed up and go out to a nice dinner or a movie, they decide when and where ( happens less frequently than hanging out because $$ is in short supply)

  15. TomSims says:

    Yes, the author of this piece just implied that women make more money and have more economic power than men, which is untrue if you actually look at things like “facts” and “numbers.”

    According to Hanna Rosin, who wrote “The End of Men; And the Rise of Women, childless women under 30 make more than their male counterparts.

    • Jill says:

      According to Hanna Rosin, who wrote “The End of Men; And the Rise of Women, childless women under 30 make more than their male counterparts.

      Yes, college-educated single women without children in their 20s earn slightly more than men in the same age bracket — but not more than men with the same levels of education. So for the 9 years between college and turning 30, women can make more money if they don’t get married, don’t have babies, and graduate college. But they still won’t make more money than men their own age in similar circumstances:

      Proponents of the “women as the richer sex” scenario often note that in several metropolitan areas, never-married childless women in their 20s now earn more, on average, than their male age-mates.

      But this is because of the demographic anomaly that such areas have exceptionally large percentages of highly educated single white women and young, poorly educated, low-wage Latino men. Earning more than a man with less education is not the same as earning as much as an equally educated man.

      Among never-married, childless 22- to 30-year-old metropolitan-area workers with the same educational credentials, males out-earn females in every category, according to a reanalysis of census data to be presented next month at Boston University by Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland. Similarly, a 2010 Catalyst survey found that female M.B.A.’s were paid an average of $4,600 less than men in starting salaries and continue to be outpaced by men in rank and salary growth throughout their careers, even if they remain childless.

  16. And remember – that writer got paid to produce that turd of an article.

    Stay glued for the NYT’a next shocking expose, “Things Changed – I’m Scared”

  17. CassandraSays says:

    The idea that all women hate hook ups and want instant serious relationships and all men love hook ups and don’t care about relationships at all amuses me. The idea that hook ups are a new thing amuses me even more. Someone has never seen a single movie from the 70s.

    • Donna L says:

      Looking for Mr. Goodbar comes immediately to mind.

      • Rachel520 says:

        Somewhere “one night stands” morphed into “hook-ups” and became a new thing to get upset about.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone says:

        And if I have to see one more ad for a movie whose plot consists of a women in her twenties or thirties desperately trying to find a man who will consent to marry here/trap her current man into marrying her I think I’ll puke.

        Why do they think everyone wants to get married? Its just one way to be, not necessarily the way every one wants to be or live and definitely not the only “right” way.

      • And if I have to see one more ad for a movie whose plot consists of a women in her twenties or thirties desperately trying to find a man who will consent to marry here/trap her current man into marrying her I think I’ll puke.

        Why do they think everyone wants to get married?

        My pet theory is that the general romance audience just grooves on creepy coercion, and it’s gone out of style to have the guy be creepy and push marriage in creepy ways, so clearly it’s the girl’s turn!*

      • hotpot says:

        Would you recommend that book? The only reason I didn’t read it is because a quick glance at the plot suggests it’s one of those ‘lady gets to do things, but it’s really not socially approved so she has to get punished at the end’ type of stories.

      • Angel H. says:

        That’s exactly what it is.

  18. Wendy says:

    Facts and numbers? Real men don’t need facts and numbers, they make their point through sheer bloody force of will, testosterone, and bootstraps. I’m not sure exactly how the bootstraps part of it fits into the equation but I do know that they talk about them a lot so they must be important.

  19. Rachel Marcy says:

    Goodness. Multiple cultures of hooking up/dating/courtship can exist at the same time. For something that supposedly defines my generation, I have very little personal experience with hookup culture. People do still date, and most of my friends are in serious relationships and starting to settle down.

    I’m not sure which old dating rituals Williams is referring to, because brief and casual isn’t new. I’ve been reading my family’s World War II letters, and they dated a lot of different people. The war may have created some exceptional circumstances, but my impression is that casual dating was the normal mode of socializing for unmarried people. People met up with their dates and went roller skating or dancing or to the movies, typically in a group with other friends. The point is, that generation did a lot of very casual dating, which may not have included lots of casual sex, but was hardly loaded with expectations of courtship and marriage. People in cities already had a large dating pool, without the help of online dating. And they still got married and had lots of babies. In fact, all that dating was considered useful for figuring out what you’d want in a spouse. So…”cycling through lots of suitors” probably isn’t causing a societal crisis.

    Also, dates don’t have to be fancy and expensive to be enjoyable.

    • Stephanie says:

      That was precisely my thought too. My grandmother used to tell me that she didn’t understand the emphasis on dating as a couple, because when she was dating, the usual was to go out in a group of friends. She said it was a lot of fun.

    • scrumby says:

      These things do always seem to ignore that back-in-the-day, before you got pinned by your steady, you probably met them at one of the many social events that everyone went to because it was the only thing to do in town on a Friday night. My great-aunts used to drive their daddy’s tractor into town every other weekend to dance at the VA hall. They didn’t have regular boyfriends, or even dates for the evening; they were just going out to hang with other young people.

    • Denise Winters says:

      I get this impression too and believe that it may be possible that people date less casually now. Meaning, I think that because people are less likely to ask out complete strangers or people they have only met once or twice, that when people begin dating “seriously” however they define it, they are more likely to have a relationship that last longer than two or three movie nights. This being because they know each other better and go into the relationship knowing their mutual interests and such.

      I once heard a story told from two perspectives about a married couple that met in the 50s. The woman came down from her dorm and instantly went to one of two men, the one that was her date for the night though the date was set up by a third party. Years later, the man asked her how she knew he was her date and not the other guy. Her response?
      “I knew it was you because I had went out with the other guy last weekend.”

      I just like that story. Its cute. *shrugs*

  20. matlun says:

    It’s still January, but the New York TImes may have just published the worst piece of 2013

    @Jill: It is good to see that you can keep your positive and optimistic outlook on life.

  21. Schmorgluck says:

    This hook-up culture thing seems to be a lot of fun. Too bad I’m seemingly unfit to take part in it. Ah, well, maybe someday. Hopefully before I turn 40.

    • Donna L says:

      I never “hooked up” with anyone (or had a “one-night stand,” as people used to say back in the late 1970’s when I was in my early 20’s), in my life. And never particularly missed it. I do remember several guys I knew back then complaining bitterly that they had never had that experience, wishing they could do it once before they died, expressing envy at all the men who seemed to be able to do it all the time, and wondering why women didn’t ever go for — you guessed it, “nice guys.” I don’t think things have changed so very much in the last 35 years or so.

      • CassandraSays says:

        At this point I’m pretty sure that if we dug hard enough we could find Nice Guys at every point in history.

        “For, verily, the ladies doth ever scorn gentleman of a nice disposition.”

        (Some whiny asshole, Elizabethan England.)

      • BBBShrewHarpy says:

        :D

        Though see this for a Happy Ending:

        I love Girl

      • Alexandra says:

        I don’t know about Elizabethan, but I know a whole lot of Jacobean poets who fit the bill.

        Much as I love “To his coy mistress,” Marvell is basically just whining that his girlfriend won’t put out.

      • djiril says:

        “For, verily, the ladies doth ever scorn gentleman of a nice disposition.”

        (Some whiny asshole, Elizabethan England.)

        Sounds like Orsino from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”

      • Schmorgluck says:

        Well, the main reason I call myself “unfit” for it is due to my social anxiety disorders. A recent even, last friday, reminded me brutally of that: I stopped myself from giving it a try, even though the conditions seemed ideal, by negating my first impressions with baseless arguments born of anxiety.

        The reason I’m interested in hookups is that, about one year ago, I managed to alleviate enough of said disorders to start having glimpses of what they involve, and I liked what I saw: I do like some randomness, and I’m particularly fond of encounters, how they bud and bloom through the discovery of the other.

        At that time, unfortunately, I thought I was rid of my SADs and stopped my medication. Friday’s event proved me wrong.

        It’s back to SSRI for me.

      • zuzu says:

        I actually found hooking up to be easier than dating on my social anxiety.

      • Schmorgluck says:

        Different triggers, I guess. Mine is attraction, it seems.

      • Schmorgluck says:

        Plus, my view on hooking up is maybe a bit less casual than most people’s, but I don’t know for sure.

      • miga says:

        Nah, I hear you. I’m wading into the raging river that is “hook up culture” myself. It’s maybe a little too fast paced and anxiety provoking to me, but I’ll give it till the end of the month before I decide.

      • I never “hooked up” with anyone (or had a “one-night stand,” as people used to say back in the late 1970′s when I was in my early 20′s), in my life. And never particularly missed it. I do remember several guys I knew back then complaining bitterly that they had never had that experience, wishing they could do it once before they died, expressing envy at all the men who seemed to be able to do it all the time, and wondering why women didn’t ever go for — you guessed it, “nice guys.”

        o_O I’m just… yeah. Word.

        I mean, I LIKE the wacky sexual adventures I’ve had. I plan on having more. But I don’t particularly feel like that’s a numbers game (which is good, because if it’s a numbers game I’ve lost pretty solidly lol), it’s a quality thing. D: I don’t know. I’d reckon that in general, a lot of varied sexual exploration with one person still counts as wacky sexual adventures, just as much as straight-up vanilla sex with ten…Maybe it’s the asexual spectrum thing.

      • Iam138 says:

        Ha! to this. I describe my marriage as “a one-night stand that went on for 23 years.” I never considered that it might have been “hooking up.” I wonder if that term was even in common use in 1986.

        Anyone have access to an OED more recent than the huge two-volume set my parents got in 1975 for subscribing to, I think, The New Yorker?

      • Donna L says:

        I got married in 1987 and I’m pretty sure that “hooking up” wasn’t a term people used back then. I don’t remember hearing it before my son was in 7th or 8th grade 10 years or so ago and told me about it (the term, not the process!). Then again, I wasn’t exactly plugged in.

      • DouglasG says:

        [I got married in 1987 and I’m pretty sure that “hooking up” wasn’t a term people used back then. I don’t remember hearing it before my son was in 7th or 8th grade 10 years or so ago and told me about it (the term, not the process!). Then again, I wasn’t exactly plugged in.]

        I wasn’t either, but don’t recall the term being much in use before well into the 90’s at the earliest in same-sexer circles; at the time, AIDS blotted out much more of the landscape than it does now. I think the term caught on first for same-sex encounters, but it had to go straight to make it a whole culture.

  22. miga says:

    U Guyz, I have serious FOMO bcuz of the Mancession, but Girls taught me YOLO which is so fetch. So now i’m gonna tweet that totes humpable boo on my iphone 5, then we’ll hook up and complain about our millennial angst.

  23. Nadine says:

    I don’t get what Ms Silver 30 is complaining about or why that phenomenon would be bad if it were true. The dark-eyed musician probably just wanted to hang out & get to know her. That’s ok, I wouldn’t want to go out to a formal dinner with a guy I didn’t know at all, it feels awkward & boring. hanging out in a bar with friends is better. To me American dating culture seems a lot more weird and unappealing than ‘hook up’ culture. We don’t have formal dating at all where I live but we still manage to form relationships. :/

  24. tinfoil hattie says:

    “Newsflash to olds:”

    “olds”? Nice.

    • dc says:

      THANKYOU.
      [was hiveminding this].
      lol
      …..not cool feministe.
      [tho perhaps a jest…..?]

    • Past my expiration date says:

      “Newsflash to olds:”

      It’s not just children who are getting older younger!

    • Amelia the Lurker says:

      Yeah, that bothered me too. I was hoping Jill was referring to a particular mindset and not just physical age, but…

      • scrumby says:

        I will say as a chronological young-person that whenever someone mentions the “olds” it makes me think of a particular, dated mindset rather than a specific age range. I’ve known way to many older folk who have had little to no trouble understanding and navigating the modern world. “Olds” just makes me think of the people who take a perverse pride in not even trying and like to lecture us on how deficient we are regardless.

      • Amelia the Lurker says:

        Yeah, like “old” being short for “old-fashioned.” I half buy that.

      • tigtog says:

        ObTWIAVBP: here DownUnder, it’s common to refer to one’s parents (affectionately) as “the olds”. FWIW.

    • DouglasG says:

      It must be some sort of thing only a New Yorker could understand.

  25. dc says:

    The Old Women’s Project

    Here are just a few comments we have encountered recently. They come more frequently — as does our invisibility — with every year. We chose these as examples of some of the particular forms that ageism takes. The fact that we are political activists makes these examples more telling — in many cases the people who made their ageist comments are progressive people, who would usually show more sensitivity.

  26. Bagelsan says:

    “Olds”? JILL ONCE AGAIN YOU HAVE DONE IT WRONG AAAAAHHH.

  27. DouglasG says:

    I agree with the post as a whole, despite a quibble with the opening sentence and a stronger possible quibble later. I was reminded of Loitering With Intent and Fleur Talbot’s observation that one would think Sir Quentin Oliver had only ever heard of two books, Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua and her own Warrender Chase.

  28. How I wish I could write ” What a pile of poo” half as elegantly as you! Loved your post.

  29. PeggyLuWho says:

    I was disturbed by the emphasis on The Guy Buys The Gal the Nice Meal. Didn’t we get over this idea a long time before the “hook up culture” took root?

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  31. John says:

    You may be right that the NY Times piece came off as a bit extreme. But the one aspect of modern-day dating that is missing (yet was a trait of every previous generation) is the notion of “courtship.” Falling in love isn’t about how long you’re single, the number of people you date, etc.. In today’s social media, on-line dating world, the model seems to be cafeteria-style, myopia, with a dash of ADD. I hate to draw stereotypes… but since we all seem to be to be guilty of that, todays 20-something (and some of the early 30-something) appear “socially challenged” in the area of relationship development. They tent to lack the ability to invest in many relationships and seem to be more driven by the number of friends they have (perhaps as a way to address with self-esteem).

    Don’t believe me? Try going six months without social media, online dating, texting or even emailing friends and love-interest. You’ll experience a radically different paradigm where investing, risking in relationships takes on a whole new meaning.

    • Bagelsan says:

      That doesn’t even make sense. My boyfriend and I met online, and we constantly text each other to set up times to meet/dates. It has nothing to do with how committed we are to each other, it just means we don’t have to wait 2 days inbetween every communication. :p

      • 2 days??!?!?!! YOU SLUT! You should be waiting 2-4 weeks for a hand-scribbled note and hoping your pigeon doesn’t get eaten on its way!

      • Bagelsan says:

        It’s true! Carrier pigeons are the only proper way to woo someone! *cries at her own unknowing sluttitude*

        (The boyfriend lives, like, 2 miles away. But there are eagles, so maybe my pigeons would get eaten.)

    • EG says:

      Try going six months without social media, online dating, texting or even emailing friends and love-interest.

      Meh. I remember that world. Here’s what was different: it was a lot harder to keep in touch with friends and family who were far way, and it was far less convenient to schedule things. No thanks.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      “They tent (really?) to lack the ability to invest in many relationships and seem to be more driven by the number of friends they have”

      …so what?

      Are you suggesting I’m somehow wrong or broken for neither asking for nor accepting a romantic relationship?

    • Also, you know what, I’ve been trying to not say this for two days now, but fuck you. No, seriously, fuck you. I dated my wife two years and seven months online. I’ve been with her physically a year and a half, married a few months ago. You have no fucking clue what dedication, understanding, commitment and investment it takes to keep a relationship going over long distance. None. You have no goddamn idea how it hurts to not be able to go home and get a goddamn hug. Or how helpless and shitty it feels to know your SO is in trouble/depressed/hurting/crying and you can’t do a damn thing but make hug smileys on IM. You don’t know what it was like for my wife to wake up to news of terrorist attacks and bomb blasts not six blocks from where I used to go to school and my internet’s been down for days, and sure, I’m PROBABLY okay, I’ve never there at that time, but she doesn’t KNOW, does she? (Yeah, Valoniel still freaks out about it.) And if I *WAS* dead, would my homophobic, internet-hating parents who thought all my online friends were “crazy people and losers” even bother to upload a message on my blog?

      You know what, you don’t have a fucking clue. Not about dating, not about the internet, not about the fact that love can look different from your fucking 1950s privileged little nostalgia-wibble and still be love.

      And you’re a fucking asshole.

      • (To note: my parents were homophobic then; they are emphatically NOT now. Just fyi so nobody gets the wrong idea about them.)

      • shfree says:

        Mmhmm. My current smooching partner lives in another country, I’ve told him he is not allowed to move to the US, (Guns! No Health Care! Ridiculous government policies!) and my current life circumstances necessitates me to remain in this country. (I have a child and I’m not willing to be far away from her at this point in her life, nor am I going to separate her from her father) Yes, it’s hard, but I think my life is richer for knowing him specifically, and people in general, that are far away from me than just those that live right around the corner.

        But hey, if you want to keep living in the era where you have to call ahead to schedule formal dates, and you manage to find people willing to jump through those irritating hoops, more power to you. Just stop insisting that your way is the right way, you arrogant, high handed tool.

      • shfree says:

        Oh, and that was me agreeing with Mac and disparaging Kevin. I do not think she is a tool.

      • shfree says:

        Argh, JOHN. I can’t get anything right today….

      • Ahahaha given what a tool Comrade Kevin is, I can totally see where that mistake’s coming from, lol. And thank you for the backup! ^__^

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  33. Calioak says:

    Bwhahah….I met my husband through work. The old lady who managed the care home where we met had known my family for years and appointed herself the Baba. We went out to dinner with large groups of old people several times. (I wouldn’t call it dating, but she was trying to politely chaperon us.)

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