From Charming to Cavalier: Why Our Parents Wouldn't Survive In The Hook-Up Culture

by Stephanie Hayman

Over 50 years ago, one of my grandmothers moved from Europe to New York City with the hopes of attaining the American Dream.

She traveled alone, seeking to conquer the world as a 20-something while honing her English skills, working administrative jobs, singing in various choral groups and securing a stable apartment. Within no time, her landlord's son introduced her to my grandfather.

A few casual phone calls led to a handful of dinner dates, and from there, a relationship blossomed. This relationship eventually turned into a loving, conjugal union that later bore children and a comfortable life in the suburbs.

To this day, my grandmother speaks of how my grandfather continuously wooed her and treated her like a lady throughout their years of blissful dating.

I, a 20-something who has lived in the same town -- let alone country -- for her entire life, have struggled to meet someone worthwhile in the same capacity. By happenstance? Forget it.

I'm realistic in the sense that I will not experience a 21st century Cinderella-esque love story; yet, somehow, my grandmother, who was virtually a USA rookie, was dealt a royal flush in the dating world.

After a thorough analysis, I came to this conclusion: The 20th century was a breeding ground for successful courtships, while the 21st century has morphed into a cornucopia of salacious hookups, sans the traditional dating norms.

Instead, those old-school principles are now viewed as antiquated, and have been replaced by new-age successors.

There is one thing I know for sure: Previous generations wouldn't have fared well in the present day due to a radical change in dating mentality over the years.

Trusted Connections vs. Tinder

Then: A strong courtship usually stemmed from being introduced to a friend or acquaintance of someone who had already earned your trust.

You didn't doubt his or her recommendation, but rather, you were more inclined to meet the person based on this individual's interpretation of his or her character.

An A+ introduction from a mutual friend was the catalyst behind a successful first date and a positive "getting to know you" period. (Disclaimer: Back in the day, people were also a lot less shady, more genuine and seemed to have white lily intentions as opposed to ulterior motives right out of the starting gate).

Now: Even the most romantic of trysts have the potential to be sparked by a reciprocal "swipe right." The ability to view mutual friends on Facebook, a grand total of five pictures and a short bio have become the deciding factors between responding to a "Hey, what's up?" or pressing block.

From personal experience, the men that I have met via Tinder and briefly dated (a whopping total of two) were not the types of individuals I would have ever chosen for myself, and my friends would have known a lot better than to recommend them to me.

People definitely aren't limited or forced to meet "the one" through online mediums, but it's become way more prominent than the latter option (unfortunately).

Vanilla Soft Serve vs. Tequila Shots

Then: Venues for dates, especially first dates, were crafted and carefully chosen. Many times, they were comprised of doing the Foxtrot at the local church dance, socializing with a group of mutual friends at a work or school function or heading to the popular ice cream parlor in town for a soft serve vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.

The locations were neutral, positive and always safe. Maybe, just maybe, there would be handholding and a kiss at the end of the night. That would then be followed up with a star struck, "I'll call you tomorrow."

Now: Meeting up at a bar for a few drinks on a first date has become relatively normal and accepted. If the crowd gets rowdy and things get a little sassy, you may be offered a couple of shots to get more in the mood.

By the time you can say one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor, you've probably consumed enough alcohol to ooze sexual prowess and engage in some very public PDA at said location.

Most likely, you will receive an exclusive, after-party invitation to his place where the rendezvous will continue. Success?

Calling vs. Snapchatting

Then: If you didn't live in close proximity, you would keep in touch and get to know one another via telephone conversation. If the date were successful, you would verbally discuss the particulars about going on another one in the near future.

Regardless of going out, you were truly able to listen to one another’s likes, dislikes, gauge personality and hear one another’s smile through laughter.

It was sweet, innocent and built a connection -- no other viable basis for judgment. You can learn a lot about someone by listening to him or her speak.

Now: Who actually picks up the phone anymore? Texting is way too convenient, and its convenience can be interpreted as laziness or feigning true interest.

Unfortunately, even texting has taken a backseat to a snapped, six-second story containing a dastardly, unassuming face with the comment, "Wanna go out again?" (This is probably followed by a few popular emojis.)

Interests, personality and looks have already been discovered via solid stalking on Facebook and Instagram, and you've most likely rated this person from one to 10 before even hearing his or her voice.

Courting vs. Casual Fling

Then: Love letters, red roses and golden lockets were all treasured sentiments that indicated the level of the relationship you were in. If you were lucky enough to wear a class ring around your neck or don a varsity jacket, you knew it was true love, not just mere infatuation.

The courtship (the first-class honeymoon period of dating) was usually accompanied by a label of committed relationship status in due time.

Now: "Likes" on Instagram, good morning texts and Facebook messages have become the Seabiscuit of showing interest -- leading the forefront and providing hope that all things are going to plan. Text messages alone sometimes take the skills of a Cold War spy to interpret.

A bunch of flirtatious banter, cutesy social commentary and steamy hook-up sessions will leave you feeling emotionally satiated for awhile, but when the label doesn't come after months of repetition, it gets old fast.

You are seemingly wedged in the casual zone of no return and can forget about achieving varsity jacket status.

Grandma, kudos to you and your generation. You had it a hell of a lot easier than we Millennials do.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It