• Wartime couples kissing and embracing

Is modern dating just another 'trend'?

Dating can be fun and enjoyable, but it can also feel like work. And that’s because dating trends are in fact connected to the economic situation of the times, says Moira Weigel, author of a new book, Labor of Love, which surveys the history of dating in the 20th century.

“Courtship,” states The Guardian, “[has] always existed, but dating – meeting up with a potential romantic partner in a public space – started only [in the 1900s] when enough women were working outside of their homes to encounter strange men without the oversight of friends and family.”

In the 1920s, the book tells us that dating stopped being an exclusively working class activity, and was taken up as a hobby by college students—something Weigel says was a sign of the general recklessness that characterised the era. 

As the economy nosedived in the 30s, cashstrapped students spent less, but dated more, dates being seen as something that could be ‘owned’ in the absence of material possessions. 

Then came the postwar boom of the 1950s and 60s, a time of abundance where anyone could have anything they wanted, which reflected in a generation of daters whose main ambition was to find someone with whom to “go steady”. So what of today’s ‘swipe right’ culture? 

“Our current era is defined by hook-up culture, the “permalancing” version of dating, in which one’s relationship, like one’s employment status, is never clearly defined,” summarises The Guardian. Maybe, but beneath every dating trend, is the same, human, timeless desire to connect, to share, to know and to love. And that’s a fact.

—MOIRA WEIGEL, LABOR OF LOVE: THE INVENTION OF DATING:

"There is no better life than a life spent laboring at love—exerting effort not because we have to, but because we believe that what we are bringing into being is valuable and we want it to exist. Yet because our culture tends to misunderstand the nature of labor and of love, we undervalue both."


QUIRKY FACTS FROM LABOR OF LOVE

  • ‘Personality’ was not a commonly used term until the 1910s and 20s.
  • When women started moving to cities during the Industrial Revolution, dating as we know it first began. Until then they generally married someone known to the family.
  • By the mid-50s, going steady was such a huge trend that children tried it as early as 11 years old!
  • TGI Fridays, the family-friendly chain restaurant, started life as a singles bar! 

 


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Author: Rebecca

Rebecca lives in London with her husband, daughter and dachshund. She hopes her dating blogs for Flame Introductions will inspire you to seek out the best London and UK locations for brilliant dates, and discover some tips along the way to help you find your perfect partner.

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