Per usual I was talking in one of my many group chats when the topic of courting came up. Specifically, the notion that old-fashioned courting needs to be brought back.
You know, varsity jackets, spending time with the family early on and dating with a plan bigger than just having someone to spend time with or learn about yourself through. Dating with a purpose, which is of course not completely lost on millennials. But, you cannot deny that our generation favors “what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained,” in lieu of real commitments often.
The conversation led me to wonder if courting isn’t dead but has instead taken a different shape. A shape more akin to long-terms situationships with a happy ending than a clear, “I’m dating to marry you from jump” vibe.
Enter in the modern-day situationship. You “date” someone for months or years at a time in most cases meeting their friends and maybe even their family. Your group chat knows XYZ is your boo and the timeline probably does too, even if you’ve never explicitly come up and out with that information. Spending all that time Netflix and chilling probably leads to some deep conversations pre- or post-movie, and nookie, ensuring that you learn the others parties likes and dislikes, do’s and don’ts. One party is also probably trying to convince the other to nail things down and solidify the relationship, not unlike stories we’ve heard of one parent trying to convince the other to get serious and go steady. This of course can and often does go on for years.
I know every situationship isn’t dating and spending time. Some are just about sex, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about spending significant chunks of your life with one person sort of by your side and if you get lucky making the jump from ‘sort of’ to confidently together in the end.
My parents always explained courting to me as dating for long periods of time with the express interest of ultimately ending up with the other party or at least deeply exploring that option. Significant others came around each other’s families early and often. My mom said it was like her boyfriends were dating the whole family when she was in high school and college. Both parties made an effort to learn the other person and prove themselves worthy of building a life with. Sounds sort of like a situationship to me, except they would have gotten to call their significant other their boyfriend or girlfriend and put them on their Instagram profile, not just Snapstory.
I know our current system lacks the romance and officiality we assume in our heads when we hear our parents and other elders wax nostalgic about dating in their day. But, stories always sound better when we’re reflecting back or listening to others pasts.
Nostalgia is just that: nostalgia.
And while I’ve always wanted to be given a varsity jacket, I’ve also wondered how only being able to reach someone through a landline phone worked. Wondered what dating without social media as a tracking device, photo album, and matchmaker looks like.
Of course, I’ll never know for sure, because I’m a 90s baby who grew up on AIM and flip phones, but something tells me situationships are just how we’re making courting work for us in 2018. Let’s be real, all things eventually get explained. Even if that explanation comes from getting ghosted by a former flame.
Cover Photo: Telephone by Lady Gaga Ft. Beyoncé