In previous years, love was not seen as being of central importance to a marriage, and if it was to come it would emerge after the wedding had already occurred. But with the introduction of dating came an increased desire for romance and love before deciding to commit to marriage.
This concept, explained in depth in The Oxford Companion to United States History, goes, «By the early nineteenth century, couples began to consider romantic love prerequisite for marriage and based their unions on companionship. The era’s fiction frequently drew on love themes, while articles, essays, and public orations stressed mutual respect, reciprocity, and romance as ingredients of good marriages. Young courting couples chose their own partners, and their letters focused on romance rather than on the practical matters that had dominated the correspondence of earlier generations.» The desire to climb the social ladder or to secure one’s place in society fell by the wayside, and the desire to find a favorable longterm partner took its place.
In the 1950s, «going steady» was the term for being in an exclusive relationship. This status was about the relationship, sure, but it was also about standing out amongst your peers. According to the University of California, Santa Barbara, «Across university campuses, couples publicized their decision to ‘go steady’ when the man gave the woman an article of his clothing to wear, such as a jacket, sweater, or ring.» Dating had become much more about youth culture than about family expectations.
The way in which two people experienced sexuality when dating also shifted. In the earlier part of the 20th century, sex and sexuality were not openly discussed. As author Jodi O’Brien put it, «Sex was desexualized» and reserved for marriage, when the couple had entered into a spiritual union with God. As dating gradually became more about personal pleasure throughout the e much more commonplace.
According to the Oxford Companion to United States History, «The terms ‘necking’ and ‘petting’ – the former referring to kisses and caresses above the neck, the latter to the same below it – entered public discussion, giving names to previously unspoken private activities.» Now when we think of the ’50s, we tend to think of a period of purity and the Stepford Wife ideal, but in actuality, it was a time of sexual change that Plymouth hookup apps ended up resulting in a dramatic increase in population.
Between the popularization of rock ‘n’ roll, and protesting the Vietnam War, 1960s youth culture was hot for revolution. Not only was it the activities of the US government that young people were resisting, but they were shirking old social conventions as well. If the ’50s saw young people starting to experiment with sex, the ’60s was the resulting explosion of sexual activity in the name of freedom.
For a long time, sex was either not discussed or seen as a kind of enemy – a destroyer of young girl’s reputations. But this stopped being the case with the hippie generation. America in the 1960s author Edmund Lindop describes the sexual shift of the period, «For youth of the 1960s, such restrictions were a thing of the past. Many young women took birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. They freely explored their sexual feelings. Sex before marriage was no longer taboo. Young people extolled the benefits of «free love»- that is, making love without marriage or long-term commitments.»
There were no rules for dating anymore. Young people did what they wanted, when they wanted, and modern-day «hook up» culture began.