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Rumours of courtship’s death have been greatly exaggerated

It may sell papers—or whatever online version the New York Times is trying to distribute to save the trees and themselves—but it’s not like this whole “the end of the dating world as we know it thing” has never happened before.

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By Amy Van Veen (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: February 6, 2013

Sleepless in Seattle

Be warned, generation of mine, the stoic New York Times has deemed this era as “the end of courtship.”

No more will people get to know each other with the shared understanding of marriage as the light at the end of the tunnel. No more will gifts be exchanged in a mutual contract of, “if you like it then you should probably put a ring on it.” No more will goats be exchanged for a woman’s hand.

Wait, that may not be courtship.

The only thing is, NYT, I don’t believe you.

It may sell papers—or whatever online version they’re trying to distribute to save the trees and themselves—but it’s not like this whole “the end of the dating world as we know it thing” has never happened before.

Sam Baldwin faced the same problem 20 years ago. He was panicking with clammy hands and an elevated heart rate when he asked his friend Rob Reiner for dating advice. He learned that the game had changed in the last 15 years. Women look for pecs and a cute butt and dating no longer exists. First it’s being friends, then it’s a possibly indefinite period of necking and then you get to have sex. You split the bill when you go out for dinner and you have to learn about tiramisu.

Okay, fine. That may be lifted from Sleepless in Seattle, but my point still stands.

We can’t be Meg Ryan thinking that the best time to be in love was with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. We can’t be Owen Wilson thinking the golden age was the 1920s. Just because the future of dating is this giant cesspool of uncertainty does not mean we’re all doomed to hook up endlessly, not get married and wander around hoping for some kind of attachment that has the semblance of being real.

This is the kind of dating doomsday that’s being talked about in Donna Freitas’ new book The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy.

The feel-good book of the year.

I get it. You see the data. You talk to students. You get results that you publish in a book. But what about every exception to that rule? And every exception to Rob Reiner’s advice? Because as far as I can see, people around me are still dating, still in exclusive relationships and still getting married.

I may be doing the opposite of what He’s Just Not That Into You says and the exact thing it portrays by thinking myself the exception to the rule, but if the rule is a series of mediocre hook-ups that leave people feeling empty because no one knows how to have a real relationship with dates and exclusivity and labels, then I’ll wait.

If there are enough of us who wait and see if we’re the exception, then there will be enough of us who realize we don’t want what’s popular – we want the good stuff.

The stuff worth waiting for.

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