The New York Times has a story that those of us in the pro-marriage business are obliged to read. It is a popular theme in upper-middle class publications that hope to attract young adult readers: courtship is impossible now because men are incompetent and/or women are incomprehensible. She wants a traditional date, but he only wants to hang out in a group. He tries to be traditional and romantic, but she attacks his macho presumption. And they don't have enough money for courtship. And Facebook Ruins Everything.
I think the good news is that the extreme incompetence that such stories
highlight is not universal, but is the kind of anecdote that makes a
good hook - the sort of stuff that forms the core of most stand-up
I think the core of the problem is that there are two groups here, working at cross-purposes. One group wants a game with sex; the other wants a clear path to marriage. Most of the players in the first group are men, and most of the players in the second group are women. Clearly, though, there are overlaps - which adds to the confusion.
One of the core features of dysfunctional relationships is unclear communication. Therefore, I think our best hope in ending the "end of courtship" story is to say clearly which game - that is, which kind of social relationship - you are seeking. To that end, by the authority vested in me by having a blog, I offer three pieces of advice:
1) Figure out what you want, say so, and stick to it. Ambivalence kills.
2) The earlier sex comes into a relationship, the less likely it is to last. Women control sex - this is just a basic, asymmetrical fact - so if you want marriage, don't allow sex early.
3) Use social media to your advantage. If you want a traditional courtship leading to marriage, spell it out. If you just want to hang out and not get serious, say that, too. And whichever side of that divide you are on, Don't Go Out With the Other Kind. Period.
Following these simple rules are more likely to keep the two games separated, and to get you want you want.