Which countries have a dating culture?
Non-binding dating: will we soon stop celebrating anniversaries?
Photographed by Renell Medrano.
Could it be that our dating culture is completely changing right now? You used to have two or three dates, got to know each other and then decided whether you want to be together or not. Today you have a bed story that lasts for months, from which at some point something serious may or may not develop.
Take my girlfriend as an example. She had fun with one guy for a year until the day she found out he was having sex with another guy. So she gave him an ultimatum: Either he decides for her and thus a steady relationship or they let it go completely. They are together now and he sees the day of the ultimatum as their anniversary. On the other hand, she always tells everyone that they have been together since the first time something happened between them.
Another friend, on the other hand, cannot really say when “casual dating”, i.e. non-binding dating, turned into a real relationship. They were just together at some point. And because they don't have a day to define their relationship, they don't have a real anniversary either.
It also took a little longer with my girlfriend and me. We dated for four months before she asked me if we wanted to make it official. We count this day as an anniversary, but our first date would make just as much sense and make our relationship a lot longer.
So the question is whether it is a coincidence that my friends and I have similar stories or whether it just goes like that these days. I think the latter is the case. And when the way we lead or start relationships actually changes, that has an impact on the theme of anniversaries as well.
The idea of a long, monogamous relationship before marriage dates back to WWII
Dr. Lisa Wade, professor and author of “American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus”, doesn't find this really surprising. Dating habits are constantly changing: until 1950, for example, apart from the wedding day, no anniversaries were celebrated, according to Dr. Calf. The idea of a long, monogamous relationship before marriage dates back to WWII. Many men died at that time, some married women from other countries and some found out during the war that they were homosexual because there they could explore their sexuality. Dr. Wade says that young women in the USA were encouraged by the media, for example, to bind their husbands tightly and not to let them go. After all, nobody wants to be alone and die as an "old maid". Solid relationships developed - and with them the idea of anniversaries.
Fortunately, we now live in a different world - at least in theory. For example, there are more men again in terms of numbers, so you don't “have to” commit yourself to someone you may not even love. In addition, it is no longer frowned upon if you do not want to get married or have a steady relationship. The focus is on relaxed, open dating, which means that the topic of anniversaries disappears a little more from the scene.
While casual dating sounds like a millennial invention, it's actually nothing new. Dr. Wade reports that the concept has been around since around 1990. Back then, baby boomers raised their daughters with feminist ideals: They should be able to do whatever men do. "The girls were taught that it is okay if they want to be girly, but that it is even cooler when they are boyish". The young women internalized this and when they went to university they also used it in sex. The result: no commitment.
The concept of casual dating is nothing new - it's been around since 1990.
"In a world where casual dating is completely normal, many are no longer interested in romance - or at least pretend they don't have it," says Dr. Calf. Nowadays it seems somehow dangerous to openly admit your feelings for another person. Instead of falling straight in the door, some find a more creative way to get into a relationship. “It all starts with a one-night stand, for example. It turns into an affair and then an exclusive bed story - and yet you are still far from a couple ”. Step by step you feel your way towards a steady relationship. But since there is no direct starting point, there is also no fixed day that you can celebrate every year.
Some might think that this dating culture breaks love. But according to Dr. Not calf. There is a risk that when choosing a partner, the focus will be heavily on external appearances. But slowly approaching a relationship instead of jumping straight into it can also have advantages. “If you compare this approach with the previous one, the idea of deciding for or against a steady relationship after three dates seems rash, almost naive. 'All or nothing' is a big step, ”says Dr. Calf. Non-binding dating, even if only for the time being, is more cautious and safer. People who would otherwise have ended up in unhappy relationships now take the time to get to know the other person in peace and at the same time enjoy the advantages of casual sex. “Of course, the whole thing makes it difficult to choose an anniversary. But it also shows how constructed it used to be, ”explains Wade. “It was a requirement of our society that we have a day at all have to“.
So let's assume that anniversaries are a social construct, so maybe it's not that important to have one.
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