Digital dating changes rules of romance

Print
Email
|

by Katherine Cook, KGW Staff

KREM

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 15 at 5:43 PM

PORTLAND -- It was called "courtship."

A man would call a woman and invite her out on a date. He would pick her up at her house. Maybe he would bring her flowers. Chances are, he would call her the next day.

Then, came "The Digital World."

For many adults re-entering the dating world after a substantial absence, they're finding the rules of dating quite different than they remember them.

Far from a passing fad, online dating has become increasingly common. The Internet is now the second-most common way couples meet, second only to a friend's introduction.

Dating in the digital world has also become less formal -- even lazy -- by some standards, leaving some wondering if courtship is actually dead.

During "Singles Night" at The Slide Inn restaurant in Southeast Portland, a long table fills up with adults in their 30s and 40s.

"I hope everyone finds their mate," said restaurant owner, Eugene Bingham.

The singles are meeting face-to-face, using spoken words to communicate. There is no digital cloak here.

"Not seeing someone in person, using text messages, you hide behind that," said Zamora Wilson, 37. "If (a man) is interested in me, they should build up courage, walk over and say 'I like you, I think you're pretty, I want to date you.' Be bold about it, have some chutzpah!" said Wilson.

"There is no courtship, anymore," complained Beverly, 34, who is recently divorced. "Nobody asks you out on dates anymore, especially in Portland."

"For young people today, that's just the way they do it," observed Dr. Karen Seaccomb, author and Community Health Professor at Portland State University.

Seaccomb believes both digital and cultural developments are responsible for today's new dating norms.

"Men and women are more equal, they see themselves as peers rather than women waiting to be selected for the date," said Seaccomb.

Back at the Slide Inn, customer Ruben Garcia recalled when preparing for a date was all up to him.

"I would make the plans, pay for everything and now it's more divided," he said. "We just meet there. We plan the date together."

Modern it may be, but many in that dating dynamic often wonder if they're "just friends."

"That's not a bad thing to ask," said Seaccomb. "There's so much more ambiguity than there was in the past."

Seaccomb added that ambiguity can also seep into established couples who depend too much on digital communication, especially texting.

"You miss out on non-verbal cues and risk miscommunication, especially during serious conversations," she said.

Seaccomb believes navigating the digital dating world doesn't have to be scary, but she recommends watching out for "sharks" -- the kind Beverly has encountered.

"Sometimes guys will text me at 10 p.m. and want to hang out," said Beverly. "That's not what I'm looking for."

Seaccomb said dating in the digital world isn't about lowering your standards, but rather, adjusting expectations.

"Bottom line, if a girl doesn't believe that she's being treated the way she wants to be treated, then she's gone," Seaccomb said.

Wilson insisted she's not asking men for the world, just a break from the digital one.

"Just call," she said. "Ask to take her somewhere nice - not McDonald's."

Print
Email
|