The Death of the Date and the Hook-Up Culture: 10 Tips to Resurrect Relationships
Gone are the days of crafting witty greetings, building up the courage to ask her out, and getting to know each other through a series of G-rated dates before starting a sexual relationship. Technology has made it simple for people to get together and provides the protection of the screen to soften rejections. The purpose of dating used to be to find a partner whose company you enjoy in different ways. Nowadays dating has transformed into hooking up and finding quick ways to jump into casual sex without the expectation of an exclusive relationship.
The death of the date and the hook-up culture have shifted the way heterosexual couples connect, whether it’s for a random or regular hook-up or when two people are looking for a relationship. Whatever the case, the following tips can be applied as a reminder about how to be open about your intentions during, between, and after dates. These tips include gender roles that some people find important in relationships, and they also carry ideas about how to be romantic in an age of impersonal assumptions crafted through dating websites and apps.
1. Ask Your Crush on a Date
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Duh, right? This easy step is sometimes completely left out. Make your intentions clear about the fact you want to go on a date. Saying, “Let’s hang out,” is not clearly communicating that you want to take your crush on a date. Something like, “I’d like to take you out to dinner,” or “Will you be my date to the Van Gogh Opening?” gives your crush a signal that you are romantically interested and that you are not just asking to hang out as buddies. If you are asked on a date give a clear answer in return – a simple, “Yes, that sounds great,” or “No, thank you. I think we’re better as friends,” lets the other person know where you stand. There is nothing worse than getting together with someone for a night out and not knowing if it was intended as a date or as a friendly evening.
2. Be on Time
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No watch? No excuse — we all have clocks on our cellphones and most people check their phones compulsively. After your date has accepted your offer, set a time that is manageable for both of you and stick to that time. Take things like traffic, weather, and work commitments into consideration. Be on time — better yet, be early. This shows that you respect each other’s time and value reliability. If you are going to be late, call the other person with a new ETA. It seems to have become habit for online daters to cancel at the last minute or to blow off the date all together — not cool. It takes minimal effort to pick up the phone or text and let the other person know that you have changed your mind.
3. Use Basic Manners
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This should be a no-brainer, but some people think manners are reserved for special occasions. Remember your manners and be polite. Guys, hold the door for a lady, help her with her coat, and do basic things like carrying the umbrella if it’s raining. Ladies, say thank you (this is another no-brainer people sometimes forget) and acknowledge the effort the guy has put into planning a date. I’ve talked to guys who have stressed about planning dates to impress — they've been stressed with anything from a lunch in the park to a hot air balloon ride. Go into the date ready to have a nice time, even if the date does not go as expected.
4. Uber Her Home
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It is difficult in a big city to escort your date to her doorstep as a traditional escort would do. A Psychology of Men & Masculinity study revealed that most men believe it is their responsibility to pick up their date and also drive her home (Jaramillo-Sierra & Allen, 2013). The next best thing to driving her home is sending her home in an Uber. It is polite and gentlemanly to be sure that your date arrives safely home. Ladies, thank your dates (remember the no-brainer politeness) for Uber-ing you home and for planning the date. We all know that Ubers are an added cost to dating — welcome to the technology age and add it to your dating budget.
5. Text Back (Dare I say call?)
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Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reported 97 percent of cellphone users send about 110 texts per day, which is about 3,200 messages per month. Texting is a regular part of communication and some people wonder when they should text after the first date. The three-day rule? Forget about it. Playing games is not necessary. If you had a nice time reach out to your crush and let him or her know. A simple text message (dare I say phone call?) saying you had a nice time and would like to go out again is another step in the right direction if you wish to continue dating the person. If you are the receiver of the text or call — here comes another no-brainer — text or call back. Simple right? No need to play the waiting game. Why waste each other’s time? Respond by saying (a) you had a nice time and want to go out again as well or (b) thank you, but not interested in going out again.
It’s better to notify the person right away than to lead someone on when you are certain that you do not want to go out again. If you are both on the same page, plan more dates and see where it goes. If not, jump back into the dating pool and go out with someone else.
6. Respect Boundaries
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One of the most important things about dating is respecting the other person’s boundaries. This goes for physical, sexual, time, and emotional boundaries. Do not expect sex on a first date. Each person will have different physical boundaries and will have different expectations about timeframes for things like sex, getting to know each other, and having “the talk” about being exclusive. Take time to talk with one another about expectations, what you like, and what you don’t like.
Drinking alcohol and using drugs can result in decreased inhibitions and people may engage in behaviors that they would not do while sober. Just because your date was down for sex one night does not mean that he or she will be down each time you are together. My favorite explanation of no means no is Blue Seat Studios Tea Consent video. Respecting each other’s boundaries shows that you are interested in the other person’s physical and emotional safety, which is another indicator that you have positive intentions to have a great time.
7. Remember That Women Spend Money Too
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People with traditional values regarding dating and gender roles assign the expenses of dates to the man. There is no doubt that dating is expensive — especially in a city like Chicago where drinks can cost $15 each in a less expensive bar and dinners can range from $50 per plate to hundreds of dollars per plate. Be sure to budget appropriately if you plan to be on the dating scene — this is true for guys and ladies. One research study found that 85 percent of men believed that they are responsible for 100 percent of the expenses of a first date and the initial dating period (Jaramillo-Sierra & Allen, 2013). Many of the men in the same study believed that it is chivalrous as well as a social norm for men to be financially responsible for all aspects of dating from the first date to ongoing relationship expenses (nights out, vacations, sporting events, for example). Sometimes guys will complain about their perception that women do not pay for anything or that they are only going out to get free drinks or free dinners. If you get the sense that your date is only going out with you to get freebies, look back at tip No. 5 and be sure to let her know that you are not interested in going out again.
However, guys, please know that ladies spend a lot of money preparing for dates. This includes upkeep with hair (this alone can cost hundreds of dollars per month), manicures, make-up, and buying date dresses, shoes, and accessories. Some will say it is superficial to comment on the way a person looks but let’s be honest — you’ve asked your crush out partially because you like the way he or she looks and you are attracted to him or her. It takes a lot of time and effort for ladies to prepare for dates (physically and emotionally) so please don’t assume that they are not spending money. Discussions about money should be addressed after the two of you have decided that things are becoming more serious.
8. Beyond the First, Third, and Fifth Dates
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If things are going well after a few dates, start planning activities besides dinner and drinks. Do fun things together like yoga, sports, or going to concerts. This will allow you to see each other in different environments and learn about how you each respond to a variety of situations. For example, if you are playing volleyball and you annihilate his team, does he act like a sore loser or is he cool with your abilities? When she breaks a nail throwing a football on the beach does she freak out or does she laugh it off? Going out in different environments will help you have fun in casual ways and you can get to know each other on a more real level.
9. Remember the Romance — It’s Not All About Sex
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Researchers and daters alike ask questions about how sexual encounters affect potential relationship outcomes. Two common questions are “Do we wait?” and “Is it better to to test sexual chemistry early on?” Sometimes hooking up on the first date leads to a committed relationship and sometimes it does not. Researchers found that couples who waited to have sex reported longer relationships and better communication than couples who had sex on first dates or early in dating relationships (Willoughby, Carroll, & Busby, 2014). After you have had a few dates and decided that you like each other remember to keep the romance active. Romance is not all about sex. Romantic gestures like bringing flowers, picking up his favorite coffee, or planning to watch the sunset on the beach all demonstrate that you are thinking about the other person and took time to plan something that you know he or she enjoys.
10. Happily Ever After Takes Effort from Both People — Don’t Bail Just Because Things Get a Little Difficult
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We’re not talking marriage here — just the decision to be in an exclusive relationship. Many people wonder about when it is time to have “the talk.” This conversation will come up at different times for different people. Sometimes one person is ready to be exclusive when the other is not. There can be many reasons for this including wanting to take things slow, feeling burnt from previous experiences, or wanting to maintain a casual dating relationship. This gray zone can feel awkward, especially when it is clear that you are “in like” with each other. The idea of “the talk” freaks some people out, but it is necessary to have once one of you begins wondering if you are both on the same page. A simple statement like “I like you and am interested in talking about how you feel,” opens the door to having “the talk.” Sometimes “the talk” takes several conversations to finalize. If it turns out you are both not on the same page, it is probably time to either stop seeing each other or learn about what it looks like, or if it is even possible, to be on the same page sometime in the near future. If after “the talk” you agree to be a couple, realize that being part of a unit takes effort and sometimes things will not be all butterflies and rainbows.
Don’t bail just because things are a bit off or if you have a disagreement (bailing if you are feeling unsafe is totally appropriate). Talk about common goals and values and work out your differences — that is what couples do. Go back to tip No. 1 and remember why you asked your crush out in the first place. Also think about why you wanted to be a couple and determine if those ideas are still true. If so, continue to work things out and remember the romance (tip No. 9). If you do decide to bail, remember your basic manners and have a conversation with the other person about your decision to uncouple. Don’t be a jerk like Berger and break up with a post-it, text message, or voice mail. Be an adult, have an actual conversation, and go your separate ways.
So Now What?
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Moving from dating to being in a relationship takes time and concentrated effort. Steven R. Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, recommended to begin with the end in mind. Think about your purpose of going on dates. Is it to hook up, find a companion, get out of the house, to have fun? Sometimes people don’t know what they want as a result of dating. Relationship researchers Conley, Moors, Matsick, and Ziegler (2013) asked people about the benefits of monogamous relationships and casual non-monogamous relationships and found that people valued monogamous relationships and placed stigma on casual non-monogamous relationships. Perceived benefits of monogamous relationships included assumptions of happiness as a couple, more sexual satisfaction, and better sexual health. There is an assumption that “normal and healthy development” includes monogamous relationships. However, if you value casual non-monogamous relationships, this is something to discuss early on in dating so that your dates know your values. In addition, serial monogamous daters may have higher chances of being exposed to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as a result of jumping from relationship to relationship.
Whatever your ideals, it is best to be open and honest with your dates and set the stage for a mutual understanding of what (or what not) to expect. Good luck out there and share your responses in the comments section below.
Conley, T. D., Moors, A. C., Matsick, J. L. & Ziegler, A. (2013), The fewer the merrier? Assessing stigma surrounding consensually non-monogamous romantic relationships. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 13: 1–30. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2012.01286.x.
Covey, S. R. (2016). The seven habits of highly effective people. Retrieved http://www.franklincovey.com/leadership/7-habits
Jaramillo-Sierra, A. L. & Allen, K. R. (2013). Who pays after the first date? Young men’s discourses of the male-provider role. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(4), 389 - 399. doi: 10.1037/a0030603.
King, M. P. (Director). (2003). Sex and The City: The Post-It Always Rings Twice. Season 6 Episode 7 [TV Series]. USA: HBO.
Pew Research Center (2011). Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. How Americans use text messaging.
Willoughby, B. J., Carrol, J. S., & Busbym, D. M. (2014). Differing relationship outcomes when sex happens before, on, or after first dates. Journal of Sex Research, 51(1), 52-61. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2012.714012.