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Six Things We Miss About ‘Old-Fashioned’ Dating

by eHarmony Staff

Why some “old-fashioned” ideas about dating may be due for a comeback.

Six Things We Miss About 'Old-Fashioned' Dating

Too much nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” is a slippery slope. We often paint the past with a golden glow, glossing over imperfections that were obvious at the time. But it’s also unwise to assume that anything out of fashion deserves to be buried and forgotten forever. It can’t hurt to take inventory once in a while and reconsider what we’ve left behind—and assess what we may have lost in the process.

Clear Intentions

Is it just us, or did dating seem to be a little more cut and dry back in the day? If a guy asked you out, you knew he was interested. The next step: going steady – which of course, he asked for as well. We’d love to return to a place of more clarity, where we knew where we stood and there weren’t so many guessing games, 3-date rules, etc!

One on One

We love the idea of going on a date and not having your friends, job or everyone else attached at the figurative hip through technology. How about connecting with another person, without all of our current distractions? Wouldn’t that be amazing? In other words, turn the iPhone, iPad or Android off.

When “making love” meant something else.

In old movies, a man “made love” to a woman by bringing flowers, writing poetry, complimenting her beauty, and declaring his desire to court her. How language has changed! These days the very concept of vulgarity has become almost passé. Words matter, and not so long ago they were used with far greater caution, care, and calibration. We might be surprised at the benefits of adopting the verbal civility of our “old-fashioned” ancestors.

“Let’s go steady.”

Accelerated sexual intimacy isn’t the only way in which we move much faster than our romantic predecessors. It’s cousin—cohabitation—is setting speed records as well. If you move in together too soon, it is difficult to see the forest (your fundamental compatibility) for the trees (her clothes take up the whole closet; his gym bag smells like something died inside). In slower times, courtship—going steady—was an intermediate step meant to try out the “partnership” in stages, without creating “ties that bind” too soon.

“I want to hold your hand…”

In 1963, the Beatles released a single that instantly rose to the top of the charts. If written today, the lyrics would seem hopelessly naive or childish, to the point of parody. But back then, the words revealed the generally accepted progression of romantic intimacy—beginning with the most simple of gestures: holding hands. Nowadays, for many, overt sexuality has become the new starting point, with often painful emotional consequences. The fragile circuitry of a brand-new relationship typically can’t handle high-voltage sexual energy surges, because the trust necessary for genuine openness takes time to grow. Going slow and letting more “innocent” physical contact suffice early on keeps the sparks away from delicate emotions until they are ready.

Slow Down

Looking back, it’s easy to roll our eyes at how dating used to be done. Still, yesterday’s etiquette helped preempt today’s tendency toward “too much, too soon” in new relationships. Our great-grandparents moved at a glacial pace that would drive us crazy, while our rush into intimacy of all kinds would make them blush. As usual, balance is found in the middle. The bottom line: Wade in slowly!

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