Most parents hope that their children will grow to adulthood and find and marry a good spouse. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult for young adults to date in ways that lay a solid foundation for a strong marriage.
A recent New York Times article, “The End of Courtship,” portrays Millennials as a group bent on “subverting the rules of courtship.” Style columnist Alex Williams begins his article with this real-life scenario: a guy asks a girl out on what she assumes is a date - but instead of showing up, the guy texts her at 10:30pm asking her to come hang out with him--and his friends--at a nearby pub. The article characterizes this typical, laid-back behavior as, “one step below a date, and one step above a high-five.”
Why would educated, metropolitan, young professionals embrace such a relationship protocol? They are not teens any longer. One would think they would understand the need for more than “hanging out” as a basis for an adult relationship. The Times writer attributes the death of courtship to social media, changing gender roles, a tight economy, and the “hook-up” culture.
Social media both hinders and helps relationships. It allows easy connections with many new acquaintances, but bases those connections on superficial similarities. I recently had dinner with two twenty-somethings in New York who graduated from Carnegie Mellon University a couple of years ago. They mourned over the over-abundance of "virtual" relationships versus the personal, deeper ones that can only develop through thoughtful human interaction. And get this: they both were young men! It surprised me when they brought up the topic and impressed me to realize how much time they had spent bemoaning the fact that their generation has missed out on the era of courtship. These young men had begun to realize that most social media networks are not designed to foster deep relationships and in fact often hinder the authentic self-revelation that grounds trusting, long-lasting relationships. As one expert, quoted in the Times article, observed, “We’re all Ph.D.’s in Internet stalking these days. Online research makes the first date feel unnecessary, because it creates a false sense of intimacy.”