Getting things situated for this blog has been a welcomed challenge. Because of our busy lives, we’ve had trouble getting our schedules to match up, so this was the first post that my mom and I were able to FaceTime and truly collaborate over!
For this post, I want to delve into a fun and energetic topic of conversation—dating! This has been an especially entertaining post to write because I’ve gotten the chance to compare and contrast the dating methods from when my mom was my age and younger!! Honestly, this topic leads into so many other areas – parenting styles, differing ideas of modern thought, gender roles and many more. There exists one strong thread of difference between the generations, however, and that is the area of communication in general.
Last night, my mom and I had a FaceTime date where we spent roughly an hour and a half discussing dating. A comparative analysis. Okay, we may have strayed from the main topic at times but for the purposes of this post I’m only relaying to you all our conversation regarding dating – in her generation vs. mine! The only thing that stopped our flow of conversation was when we ran out of wine. It was sad.
On What we Wore
Mom: Wow! I wasn’t a fashionista in high school (probably am not now either!) so what to wear on a date really wasn’t my top priority. I was a flannel shirt / jeans girl with wallabies or tennis shoes!
Me: OK I wasn’t a fashionista either! When it comes to the 2-3 dates I’ve ever been on I had absolutely no idea what to wear, EVER. I’m still upset just thinking about the horrendous outfits I decided upon. One time it included grey glittered tights…and I’ll leave it at that. It was New Years so I was being festive, in my defense. I tried to keep up with what was cool, but casual is always better in my book too!
Mom: My first “boyfriend” was in 5th grade and this young fellow asked me to “go with” him – which is what we called it back in the 70’s. My mom did not allow us to have a boyfriend at this age so I had to keep it a secret. In 6th grade I met a couple of fellows, David and Barry. They would both ride their bikes to my house – I thought David was cuter but Barry was very funny and always kept us laughing. In high school I pretty much dated one guy until he went into the air force. At that time I went out with a few others – one with really sweaty, wet hands who tried to hold my hand throughout the Pink Panther movie – stupidest movie known to man.
Me: My first boyfriend ever was when we were toddlers—does that count? My next boyfriend was definitely in Kindergarten. I vividly remember being asked to the Cinderella Ball by this boy. I was so happy; it was the best day of the year by far. But I had to keep this a secret because technically I was still dating Garnett (oops). Then I was single and mingling until sixth grade when a boy asked my friend to ask me to be his girlfriend. We didn’t actually speak all year, but it was a beautiful relationship. It wasn’t until about seventh grade when you could really call someone your “boyfriend” because we were going to middle school football games and the movies.
Mom: Curfew: 11 pm and if you were going to be later than that by 15 minutes then you had to call home. Which in and of itself was a pain because you had to find a public phone booth and then you had to have the 25 cents on you to make the call. When I dated the boy ALWAYS paid. I was never asked or expected to pay for my meal or movie ticket, etc. In my home and I expect most homes in the ‘70’s, the boy ALWAYS called the girl first – no exceptions. We were not allowed to call boys – even when we had been dating for a while. Having a boyfriend was hard because we were only allowed to talk on the phone for 30 minutes at a time. My sister would talk to her boyfriend for 30 and then we would fight because she would try to go over her limit and I would pitch a fit and vice-versa. Also, mom always knew when we were talking and to whom – she could just pick up one of the other extensions and listen to our conversations – if she did it quietly, we would never know she was listening. The boy ALWAYS came to our door to get us – never did I drive to pick up a boy to go out and we certainly didn’t meet somewhere.
Me: My father would still try to enforce a curfew if at all possible, and I’m almost 22 years old. When I lived at home, I had to be home by 10:55—so disrespectful to even cut it close to 11—until I graduated. I got around this by spending the night at friends’ houses with later curfews than mine. In terms of dating rules, we did a lot of “group” dating in middle school where we always met at the movies and paid for our own tickets. We didn’t go out to dinner much. Then when people could drive we did “movie nights” at people’s houses so again it wasn’t really up for discussion who would pay because there was nothing to buy. We also didn’t have jobs and you guys lectured us if we asked for money so there wasn’t much of an option there! I guess when I had my first boyfriend he paid for most meals but I always felt awk-o taco about that. Not sure why.
Mom: I don’t know if I was a redneck girl or what but we mostly – walked around our neighborhood at night as a group (I mean until curfew) or went to the movies and then to Mayberry Ice Cream for a sundae, or we rode around. We cruised South Blvd some or just all over Charlotte. Sometimes when I thought my mom wouldn’t find out we went to the bowling alley (which was TABOO! according to my mom. Nice girls did not hang out at the bowling alley or the skating rink even if you were with a boy or a group of friends.)
Me: My dates in the middle school age were definitely all movies and sporting events. This stayed the same in high school for the most part. We also hung out at people’s houses most of the time! It was much easier to tell my parents I would be watching a movie at one place than to complicate things. I was never allowed to go to the mall or the skating rink (it was TABOO according to my mom)! I was always bopping around different friend groups so I would sometimes get invited to go to the movies with older friends and their boyfriends. This is when my role as the avid, go-to third, fifth (or seventh!) wheeler began. I’m still in this role. I’ve learned to embrace it. Except for the time recently when the server at a restaurant called me out for being the only single one. And then my card got declined. Not. Cool.
On the Lingo
Mom: As I said before, when dating someone specific, it was called “going together” and when that happened the boy gave the girl something to signify she was his girlfriend. This something was usually some type of cheap (even handmade) bracelet – like some kind of string or rope (I don’t really remember!!) It was a definite that you were dating that other person.
Me: We have stages of relationship statuses now. It’s become so hard to get to the actual “relationship” stage of dating that we keep it casual for as long as possible! There’s “talking,” which means that you’re probably about to be in a relationship with the person. “Talking” takes both of you off the market, unless a girl doesn’t follow the girl code (see below). “Hooking up” is not really a stage that leads to a relationship, but it’s definitely a stage used in college. Saying “they’re hooking up,” doesn’t take a guy off the market as much as “talking” does, but it still would make a girl think twice about asking someone to a cocktail. When you put “in a relationship” on Facebook, it’s so permanent that it’s almost like you’ve just announced your engagement. I’ve heard stories from my friends that as soon as they changed their relationship status, they got texts from past flings and other random annoyances. Our social circles spread far so when you tell all those people that you’re with one person it feels much more permanent than before. It’s scary!
On Girl Code
Mom: Girl code is not a thing. Think about it, if one guy dated one of my girlfriends and was never allowed to date any of her other friends then he would be out about five prospective dating candidates! That’s not fair, and when I was in school, there was no such thing as girl code. And so when we dated a guy another one of our friends dated then we had someone to compare notes with – such as “was he a good kisser with you” or “did you like the way he kissed?”
Me: Girl code is a living, breathing, real thing. It’s more than “claiming” a guy for life. It’s just a matter of respect for your friend if she still likes the guy. If ever a friend of mine still had feelings for a certain person, I would feel very odd going after that person! Because think about it, who am I going to talk to about my love interest at the time? It would make my friend feel bad if I rubbed it in her face that I am dating someone that she is still pining over. That’s just mean and weird and uncomfortable. I suggest steering clear of guys that your friends have dated. It makes things weird.
On our Worst Date Ever
Mom: I have already mentioned the Pink Panther movie date with the sweaty hands guy which would qualify for my worst date ever but I also had a worst prom date night where the fellow got so inebriated that at the after party he tried to pull my dress off which sent me scurrying throughout this other kids’ house looking for their home phone so I could call my dad to come save me – which he did thank goodness!
Me: I feel like the person who took me on the worst date ever might be reading this, which makes me extremely uncomfortable. I had a very nice prom date both times, and I’ve never truly been so uncomfortable that I had to be saved. Except for some excruciating double dates that have been pretty terrible. The good thing about those is that your friend is with you to save you!
I mentioned in my first post that my generation grew up in the era of instant gratification. I had unlimited texting as soon as I got my first cell phone at 14. When I asked my mom at what age she received her first phone, she couldn’t remember but realized later that it wasn’t until she was provided a company phone from work. Before that, she had a car phone. I believe the heart of our dating differences stems from the differences in communication. In the age of texting and social media, our current lack of definition around relationships for which we’re highly criticized is based upon the fact that we feel the need to announce to our Facebook friends who we’re dating at the moment. This added pressure of constant and instant communication scares us into putting off that defining moment.
I’m not one to foreshadow or make predictions about where this will go in the future, but I am going to say that maybe my generation shouldn’t be as highly criticized as we are for our current dating habits. As you can see above, there weren’t that many discrepancies between the early parts of my mom and my dating histories. It’s interesting to compare things and make notes on why things have changed, but I also think it’s interesting to see what has remained the same. Are we actually closer to our parents’ generation than we tend to believe? TIME seems to agree with me on this one, so who knows.
Cheers to happiness and kindness,