Our “kids” came down to visit for a week, and a big part, possibly the biggest part of a visit, consists of those quiet talks that go on into the wee hours of the morning. To my mind, they’re the best. Everybody lets their hair down and you learn where everyone is “at” or “coming from”. Keep in mind that our “kids” are in their 40s, happily married and successful.
And so, to kick off with an easy one just to get the ball rolling, I asked if, of the younger generations, love, marriage, dating, or even flirting were becoming passe. I expected a bit of chuckling and something like, “Nope, not yet!” and we’d trundle on to another topic.
Instead, there was a fairly long pause. Glances were exchanged between my son, Cameron, and Melissa, my daughter-in-law, though in Pam’s and my brain, she’s our daughter. Melissa took a very long time to form her answer. She seemed ill at ease. (Keep in mind, there was no tape recorder going, so I’m paraphrasing.) Melissa indicated that the up-coming generations don’t really trust the concept of marriage, or even weddings. They don’t really trust the concept of a home in the country with a picket fence and “two cats in the yard.” (CSN). Weddings are way too expensive (true) and the commitment to a multi hundred-thousand dollar house purchase in two names, is actually dangerous.
I suppose it is, though the alternative seems to be having a little apartment in the city or one of the new Micro Homes. Melissa and Cam both agreed that that’s the goal for the new generations. Urban life, with easy hook-ups with friends, 24-hour coffee, great wines, gourmet everything…that’s the goal right now.
I asked about dating and flirting. Both of them grinned, though I think a bit wistfully, because both of them actually did date, did flirt, did fool around when given half a chance. The gist of the answer was that the concept of dating is now an antiquated term. Flirting, pretty much the same.
In a recent Maxim article, it appears that the way to get to know each other these days, is to first go to bed, do the deed, and then, the next morning do a little quick computing to see if it might be worth getting to know the person you just slept with. A subset of this concept seems to be, if a gal runs into a guy at a bar or restaurant that she just wants to get rid of, she’ll give him a quick B J just to get rid of him.
Believe it or not, I wasn’t shocked by any of this. I wasn’t angry, nor did I really look down on the young people doing this. What I felt was, that there are mounting generations of young men and young women who are first, getting hugely gypped on one of the best things in life, and second, are setting themselves up for some gargantuan disappointment in the not-too-distant future.
Perhaps this is a faulty perspective from a now irrelevant person from an irrelevant generation, BUT, even the animals in the wild seem to have a better handle on things. From an embarrassingly young age, my brain was attuned to flirting, whether it was the four-foot-tall munchkin I was taking bowling and roller skating, to watching Goldfinger in the back of my Chevy. Flirting was (and continues to be) FUN!
Dating: Dating was FUN. More than that, it was EXCITING! Bower birds know it. Trumpeter swans know it. Raccoons, bears, gorillas, giraffes, porpoises, crows, field mice have the concept.
Music: Music of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s all understand that finding that one special person and then committing to just them…is exactly what it’s all about.
Movies, books, TV series, whether they’re set a thousand years ago or a thousand years into the future, 95% of all plots come back to a man falling in love with a woman. Seriously…think about it.
A Millenial reading this might smirk. “We are soooooo past all this bullshit. We’re into reality. We don’t really even need each other. We choose each other because it’s logical and financially expedient.” Well…here is where the plot truly thickens. Young love eventually gives way to mature love, if you’re lucky. And mature love comes down to actually LOVING the person, not their tits or ass, not their six-pack abs. Mature love is when you’re both a bit saggy and in the middle of the night you see a huge growing bloodstain from God-knows-where. Love, is getting your mate down to the ER and then staying there, and maybe committing to days, weeks, months, years in and out of the hospital.
Expedient logical relationships will not survive this pressure. Love, however, will ,and most, if not all of my friends will attest to this.
I don’t think younger generations are stupid, or pig-headed, or shallow. I think the perceptions they’ve grown up with have subtly clouded a rather basic issue. Men and women, boys and girls need each other to survive….financially, emotionally, physically, lovingly.
Is this situation hopeless? No, it is not. I would love to see a handful of splinter-test groups to test a new concept: Flirting in a room, where the rule is, No words may be spoken. Dating: Where the rule is: first date, no matter what, the very best you can expect is a kiss. To be harshly candid, when you “give your everything” to a man on that first date, you have lost 99-percent of your emotional bargaining power…and possibly your self-respect.
I am truly rooting for our succeeding generations to just give it a try. Flirting, whether it’s in a parking lot, bookstore, Wegmans, post office, or a classroom, can be the next thing to heaven. Why toss it away? Dating truly is heaven. Why skip it?
My son and I have had this conversation. To say that modern day dating is frought with pitfalls at every turn would be an understatement. Between all the new classifications of sexual identification, the internet, which leaves discovery on your own, out of the ballpark, the stress of who has more, and just plain old growing up, I wouldn’t want to date in this generation. I will say that our son did, more or less, go at it the old fashioned way, and he is still with his lovely young woman 6+ years later. They seemed destined to be a couple even back then. I think they are an oddity in this modern day world of relationships. I’m glad for that. Maybe there is hope.
Never give up. There’s always hope. Shawn’s a good man, and yes, he’s fortunate to have been able to date. Dating is GREAT! Flirting is WONDROUS! Why would anybody skip these terrific perks in interacting with the opposite sex? Anyone who’s too jaded or too cynical to bother dating, is actually uniformed. Pam and I still have dates. We still flirt. She’ll give me that, “look” and it works nearly every time. You’re a good Mom, Deb. You’ve done a good job.
I think this trend has been a slow-moving train for a long time. Yes, Melissa and I dated, and wrote love letter to each other… but we were doing something that was kind of rare. At least in our generation. The whole concept of foregoing dating seemed to pick up steam soon after we were off the market. Friends of ours who are single now tell horror stories about what it’s like now. Not just one or two, but all of them.
There are lots of forces shaping this, but from what I can tell the two biggest ones are the younger kids seeing how divorce screwed up their family, and not wanting to get stuck in that “trap” too. And, the rise of porn everywhere.
When we were kids, if you wanted porn, you’d steal your dad’s Playboy, or stay up til 2 in the morning when the one porn channel would show… something naughty, usually pixelated, for a couple seconds. You had to word at it, and all in all, it was rather innocent.
Even ten years ago, when I was teaching fencing to a bunch of elementary and junior high school kids, they’d all seen that horribly disgusting thing called Two Girls, One Cup. I’ve still never seen it, nor will I. But it is telling when 11 year olds, from good families too, are better versed in porn than grown ups.
That warps what you think is normal or acceptable when it comes to dating. The kids are taking cues from this, and it’s difficult to step back from once you’ve gone down that road.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. 🙂
You make some excellent points, though I’d question the intelligence of anyone who mistakes porn with reality. C’mon… When I watch the sexy bits of most TV shows and movies now, there’s a transition to getting thrown against a wall, skirt pushed up, pants pulled down and bang, bang, bang. And variations of that. It’s a tv/movie myth. Even in my youth, the best seduction scenes we played out, involved, teasing and tenderness that builds sometimes for an hour or so. And the more mature you get, the longer the lead time. It’s the process!!!!! If young guys would rather watch phone porn, or buy a $6000 blow-up robot gal and do it with…it, that’s sad. Every generation deserves to have romance. Sermon over.
My oldest grand daughter just graduated university in May, she has been with the same fellow for five years. I definitely think she is the marrying type. I hope so for all my grand kids. There is nothing that can compare to sharing your life with one person. To death do us part.
I have one word to say to you, Linda: YES!!!!!
Flirting and dating are the heart of a great relationship. Cameron and I try to have “date night” at least once a month, if not more. It was fun discussing this topic last week!
FWIW, great debating is a learning process, hopefully on both sides. No matter how ingrained one’s position is, if you listen, you can always learn some nugget of information that takes you closer to the truth. You’re a natural debater, Melissa. A key to the process is NOT making it personal. Very often when I’m debating someone, I’ll offer to switch sides right in the middle of the thing. Done correctly, both sides can learn a lot at that point. Switching gears, some of the very best times of my life were early dates with Pamela…trout fishing in a teeny weeny stream, sitting in a greasy diner at 2am, making snow angels in a storm. That’s the good stuff.
Yes, true love is obvious to those that are around a couple who truly do love each other. It’s the little things. A glance, a smile, a finished sentence. You and Pam have that IT factor. We are in the fortunate minority I think. Took me 70 years. Haha
Yes, yes, and yes. The only thing I disagree on, I’ll bet the farm that it hasn’t taken you 70 years. I bet you were a “pistol” in the first grade and just kept rollin’. Thanks for the IT statement. I was incredibly lucky to run into Pam at a mixer one night.
Loved your article!!
Thanks for reading, Dee! Unlike generations who like to pit everybody against one another, I think every generation has its merits and every generation deserves, fun, fulfillment, love, romance. Life is really tough and gets tougher. These are the factors that can actually carry you through.
The last line in the song “Nature Boy” comes to mind; “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return”. We’ve been married 54 years and every morning my first words to Pat are “Good morning beautiful”. We have history and won’t change it ever….so simple and special.
Yes, you ole softie! That’s what makes the world go round. FWIW, when Pam and I were dating, Camelot was in NYC. A similar song: ” How to Handle a Woman…” The punchline said it all. The way to handle a woman…is to love her…love her…love her