During the courtship process, it was typical for the intended couples to divulge their perceived character flaws to ensure that a long-term commitment would be logical and feasible.This ritual may seem overly cautious, but in a society in which the Catholic Church was an incredibly powerful institution that prescribed marriage as an integral part of God’s plan, this was not a decision that could be made lightly.In this system, dating and marriage were viewed as two very separate entities, with marriage marking the graduation from youth into adulthood.
No longer was quantity emphasized, but rather the stress fell on finding a loyal partner.
This change was partially catalyzed by the scarcity of young males in the United States, as nearly all able-bodied men between 18 and 26 were engaged in the war effort across seas.
Rather, love was regarded as the product of a constructed arrangement, eventually achieved by couples with aligned resources and values.
This tradition of parental oversight was legitimized by the law, which held that guardians were permitted and expected to organize the transition of their child into a legal marriage.
The Women’s Movement led to more women obtaining higher education and becoming integrated into the workforce, and more women began delaying marriage to first establish their careers.
This, combined with the increasing availability of birth control, led to a relaxation in attitudes toward premarital sex.
Due to this connection with the lower class, the practice was initially mistrusted by parents, but dating quickly replaced calling as the favored model of romance.
In the years preceding World War II, a popularity-based system that sociologists refer to as the “dating and rating complex” developed.
With the advent of new technologies (cell phones, social media, Tinder, etc.) and the changing definitions of traditional dating and families, modern dating is a more fluid and self-interpreted concept, very different from the relational context of the past.