'50s Dating Horrors

What Women Really Think
Nov. 3 2009 1:47 PM

'50s Dating Horrors

Hanna , I am the product of the "simpler" '50s dating culture. My parents were young, hot for each other, met their families' requirements of looks (her) and potential earning capacity (him), and married at ages 19 and 20. Their union produced four children, lasted 20 years, and was a nightmare for all concerned. So I do not share David Brooks’ nostalgia for a time when dating had 'guardrails.' I dated for decades in the pre-cell phone era, and it wasn’t technology that gave me an ironic, contingent feeling about my adventures. One of my male friends once said to me, "Sometimes I think you deliberately go on bad dates just so you have a story to tell." Also, one doesn't have to do more than read Jane Austen to understand that it’s not the advent of SMS technology that make males and females circling each other strike poses, make harsh, comic judgments, and wish for someone more appealing.

Yet I am interested in another effect of modern technology that Brooks doesn't get into: the phenomenon of simultaneously dating and reporting on the experience. So, you young, single XX ers-is it true you run to the ladies room to text and tweet your way through the evening? I understand the desire, but isn’t it better to let the evening simply unfurl without having to judge it minute by minute for your forum?

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column.