Students reject out-of-date rules of romance

Maggie Rosenbohm

Editor’s note: Some of the names in this story have been changed to protect the sources’ identities.

Who should pick up the check? Is it okay to kiss after the first date? Should you text or call?

With all of the unspoken “rules” assigned to it, dating can be confusing. So when navigating the world of romance, which rules will land the second date?

Dealing with first dates and relationships can seem overwhelming, so it’s natural to seek help when deciding what the next move should be. At the end of World War II, etiquette books and courting how-to films became massively popular when America’s young and single population was ready to get married and start families. 

For a successful date in 1959, Robert H. Loeb Jr.’s “She-Manners: The Teen Girl’s Book of Etiquette” suggested to girls: “Make him feel important. You have to forget your own desires for importance.” 

Sociology professor Sheldon Ekland-Olson said dating and gender expectations have progressed since the 1950s, leaving more room for equality and personality to play a role in finding a partner. 

“You just thought about things differently [back then],” Ekland-Olson said. “That’s why the rethinking about these issues is so important. It’s much better now. Improvements can still be made, but we look at each other more in terms of being real people as opposed to the very narrow terms before — and that goes for men and women.”

Engineering freshman Arinze Nwankwo said he is glad ideals have moved away from the sexist nature of past dating, but thinks some sexist practices remain. 

“I would say it’s a good thing that we have progressed from that,” Nwankwo said. “I like how dating is now more. It’s not like all of [those dating practices from the past] have completely worn off, but expectations have definitely changed, for girls especially.”

Rules and expectations may seem too rigid for the freelance style of dating that has become more prominent recently, but that doesn’t mean they have completely gone away. The rules of the dating world promise a successful love life, but in reality, may be counteractive. 

“People always tell me to ignore the girl,” Nwankwo said. “I think that’s just stupid.”

When it comes to seeking out advice, communications junior Kate Allen said she has received some outdated tips. 

“The worst dating advice I’ve ever received was actually from my own father,” Allen said. “He told me to always say yes to a guy if he asked me out on a date because it was probably really hard for the guy to get the courage to ask me out. I let him know how I felt about that piece of advice, and now he keeps his ideas about dating to himself.”

Tips for the modern dater can be found in an abundance of magazines that give guidelines for how women should act to attract men and promote hyper-masculinity as the ultimate turn-on for women. In a men’s dating advice book released in 2015, “Single Man, Married Man,” the authors suggest “no matter where a woman was in life, she should always be able to cater to her man’s needs.” 

Nwankwo said amid the abundance of dating advice available to young people, the best thing someone can do is be true to themselves.

“The best advice I can think of is to just be confident with who you are and what you are doing,” Nwankwo said. “Uniqueness and individuality can be the most attractive part about a person.”