In the late 1940s, Margaret Mead, in describing this pre-war dating system, argued that dating was not about sex or marriage.
Instead, it was a "competitive game," a way for girls and boys to demonstrate their popularity.
Men's popularity needed outward material signs: automobile, clothing, fraternity membership, money, etc.
Women's popularity depended on building and maintaining a reputation of popularity: be seen with popular men in the "right" places, turn down requests for dates made at the last minute and cultivate the impression that you are greatly in demand.
You had to rate in order to date, to date in order to rate.
By successfully maintaining this cycle, you became popular. So, that is the system in place prior to World War II.
College men will think, ." She also suggested that you get your mom back home to send you flowers from time to time, again, to give the impression of popularity.
And this new system had its own set of rules and customs. I have known college couples, and even high school couples, to buy a pet together — goldfish, hamsters, etc., which leads to a dispute over the care-giving of a living creature. Do we have a system that values what is called "serial monogamy" — a succession of exclusive and serious relationships, as a practice for marriage? I think the answer is, "yes," "no" and "I don't know." It appears that the "script" that has developed in the closing decades of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st is, "anything goes." And, although for many years this was sold under the heading of , I believe young adults over the past decade have discovered that, in fact, it has caused cultural and relational vertigo — not knowing for certain which way is up or down, and not knowing in which direction to move. How do I know when I'm with a person (meaning, dating them exclusively)? In many Christian communities there seems to be movement toward rediscovering, or creating anew, some sort of script that conforms itself to the way God created man and woman to relate to each other.
For instance, there had to be some visible token (class ring, letterman's sweater or jacket) given to the one with whom you were couple "breaks up," something like a mini divorce occurs, complete with a divorce settlement and custody dispute — a dividing up of the assets, property and other persons involved. How do I talk to the other person about our relationship — in modern language? New types of courtship systems where family, friends and church communities are involved in the relationship provide support and godly counsel to individuals in a relationship.
After World War II the norms within the dating system began to change.
By the late 1940s and early 1950s demographic realities began to sink in: There was a shortage of men.
The article went on to say that if, for some reason, you did not have a date on a particular night, you should keep the lights off in your dorm room so no one would know you were home.