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  • 1. 5 The Marriage Experience In the News Arlington, Virginia C ollege women looking for Mr. Right might be looking in the wrong place if they expect to find him on campus, so said a 2001 study titled “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right: College Women on Dating and Mating Today.” The 18-month study of the attitudes and values of today’s college women regarding sexuality, dating, courtship, and marriage, conducted by a research team led by sociologists Norval Glenn and Elizabeth Marquardt, found that college women are confused about the dating–mating game on campus, protesting that they basically have two options: “hooking up” briefly with a guy for casual sex, or being joined at the hip and virtually living together. They feel they either have too little or too much commitment, neither of which contributes much to finding a husband while in college, a goal 63 percent of the women studied at least partly embraced. Since this study, all indications are that students on college campuses either say they have no time for serious dating or they continue to be more likely to go out in groups—the group has replaced the dating couple as a form of dating—than spend time with one signif- icant other. Moreover, according research reported in 2004 (Wolcott, 2004), it appears that the notion of dating continues to be a dated concept as college women and men continue the trend of hooking up for sex. Significant shifts in college life continue to impact dating and intimate relationships among students on today’s campuses. For example, women continue 125
  • 2. Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 127 5 to outnumber men on college campuses, and coed dorms are still the norm at many univer- sities. Intentional or not, researchers suggest that this phenomenon facilitates hookups and lessens the need for couples to socialize on dates. In addition, they say that marriage is a less immediate goal for students today than in generations past. Indeed, people are marrying at Marriages and later ages than in the past and thus are statistically less likely to have met in college. The increased mobility of students after college further lessens the incentive for developing long- term relationships (Lehman, 2004; Wolcott, 2004). The frame of mind about traditional dat- Families in the ing seems to be “no time,” “no money,” and “no need” (Wolcott, 2004:1). Speaking about “Hook Ups” on college campuses, journalist David Brooks (2002) reports 21st Century: that many young college women have told him that they do not have time for a serious rela- tionship, so they “hook up.” However, they do not simply jump from the group-gathering or dating stage directly to hooking up. Rather, Brooks found that there is an intermediate stage U.S. & called the “Hang Out,” as in, “ Do you want to come hang out in my room?” (Brooks, 2002:1). These Hang Outs begin in the dorm room with conversations ranging in topic, and World Trends may consist of one or more such encounters until the two partners move from the Hang Out to the Hook Up phase by engaging in sexual intercourse. As with Hook Ups, there are many different kinds of Hang Outs with infinite and ill-defined gradations of seriousness. The hookup trend has led some today to call for the return of dating and courtship rules and a renewed role of colleges and universities in regulating sexual behaviors on campus. To counter what the media has described as a “postdating” or “undating” culture, some conser- In the News vative groups such as the Independent Women’s Forum have advertised in college newspa- pers, urging students to “take back the date” by buying someone dinner or flowers (Lehman, Arlington, Virginia 2004:1). It should be noted that dating on college campuses is not entirely obsolete today. African American students at Howard University in Washington, DC, for example, report that hookup has a dual meaning for them, referring either to a sexual encounter or to a roman- C ollege women looking for Mr. Right might be looking in the wrong place if they expect tic dinner date (Lehman, 2004). to find him on campus, so said a 2001 study titled “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right: College Women on Dating and Mating Today.” The 18-month study of What Would You Do? If you are single and open to dating, would you “hook up” or the attitudes and values of today’s college women regarding sexuality, dating, courtship, and have you ever “hooked up”? If you are married, would you have engaged in this form of marriage, conducted by a research team led by sociologists Norval Glenn and Elizabeth dating when you were single? As a parent, would you encourage or discourage your off- Marquardt, found that college women are confused about the dating–mating game on spring from engaging in such dating practices? Some men blame women for this trend of campus, protesting that they basically have two options: “hooking up” briefly with a guy for hooking up and accuse college women of having destroyed romance by making it transac- casual sex, or being joined at the hip and virtually living together. They feel they either have tional. Although some women might agree that hooking up takes romance out of dating too little or too much commitment, neither of which contributes much to finding a husband and may indeed be considered transactional, they argue that men have been doing this all while in college, a goal 63 percent of the women studied at least partly embraced. along, so why shouldn’t women? What do you think? Which position do you take? Explain. Since this study, all indications are that students on college campuses either say they have no time for serious dating or they continue to be more likely to go out in groups—the group has replaced the dating couple as a form of dating—than spend time with one signif- icant other. Moreover, according research reported in 2004 (Wolcott, 2004), it appears that D young women and men rub elbows, and do you think of cou- ating, coupling, and mating—these concepts call up a the notion of dating continues to be a dated concept as college women and men continue ples “hooking up” and “hanging out?” Many of these are famil- variety of images. Close your eyes. What images come to iar images associated with dating and mate selection in the mind when you think about dating in U.S. society today? Do United States, images that are relentlessly transmitted through you think of youth, “swinging,” sex, “singles,” fun, marriage, the media. Do these things. or love? Do you think of college campuses where hundreds of 126
  • 3. 128 Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 129 D mate selection process with several government-sponsored ating, coupling, and mating—these concepts call up a MATE SELECTION IN CROSS-CULTURAL computer dating and matchmaking services (Murphy, 2002). variety of images. Close your eyes. What images come Not surprising, the majority of those using computer dating AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE to mind when you think about dating in U.S. society today? services are males (70 percent). The scarcity of Chinese women Do you think of youth, “swinging,” sex, “singles,” fun, mar- has given them a newly found edge in a mate selection process riage, or love? Do you think of college campuses where hun- that historically treated them as chattel. The down side of Chi- Did you know that dating is not a common practice in most dreds of young women and men rub elbows, and do you nese women’s leverage in mate selection, and a jolting countries? In general, when we speak of dating we are referring think of couples “hooking up” and “hanging out?” Many of reminder of their continued oppression, can be seen in an to a process of pairing off that involves the open choice of these are familiar images associated with dating and mate observation made by Chinese sociologists and journalists: mates and engagement in activities that allow people to get to selection in the United States, images that are relentlessly “With men unable to find wives as sexual partners there could know each other and progress toward coupling and mate selec- transmitted through the media. Do these images match the be an increase in prostitution, rape, and among men, suicide” tion. In places such as China, India, South America, and most reality of your life? Do they match the reality of the lives of (Shenon, 1994:5). In addition, as a result of the shortage of countries in Africa, dating is very rare. In addition, it is forbid- most unmarried people? Do they match the reality of mate Chinese women, there has been a significant rise in the num- den in most Muslim countries, including Iraq, Egypt, Iran, selection for your parents? Your grandparents? bers of bounty hunters, who kidnap city women and deliver and Saudi Arabia. Only in Western countries such as the As this mental exercise might have illustrated, for many peo- them to rural farmers desperate for brides and the increasing United States, Great Britain, Australia, and Canada is dating a ple the idea of dating and mate selection brings to mind love, reliance of many rural Chinese men on the booming trade in common form of mate selection. In these countries, dating is marriage, and family. Traditionally, we have assumed that kidnapped women in Vietnam and Korea for a source of perhaps the single most important method by which people attraction leads to dating, dating to love, and love to marriage. brides. get acquainted with each other, learn to interact heterosexually, Indeed, we have assumed that the major function of dating is A transformation of the mate selection process as a result of and select a mate. to teach people to form intimate heterosexual relationships Sociologists use the term mate selection1 to refer loosely to the glut of single men is occurring in other nations as well. For and to prepare people for marriage. As the Glenn and Mar- example, based on figures put out by the United Nations, the wide range of behaviors and social relationships individuals quardt research presented in the In the News story opening India, with nearly 900 million people, has a sex ratio among engage in prior to marriage and that lead to long- or short- this chapter suggests, this sequence of attraction, dating, the single population of 133 men to every 100 women. As in term pairing or coupling. An essential element in mate selec- love, marriage, and family is still espoused and held onto by China, Indian custom values males. The custom of arranged tion is courtship, a process of selecting a mate and developing many, particularly college women. And Glenn and Mar- Dating and mate selection rituals vary across cultures. Some marriages in India has survived migration and modernization, an intimate relationship. Dating is simply one stage in the quardt themselves appear to fall into this camp as well, given practices, like those of the Wodaabe of Niger, Africa, where men remaining central to the fabric of Indian society. Although no courtship process, a process that involves an increasing level of that in the study’s recommendations these authors stress that dress as females to attract brides, may seem strange to North exact figures are available, some 95 percent of all marriages in commitment that might culminate with the ultimate commit- Americans. However, the liberal, unchaperoned dating and young people must be guided with sensitivity and support India are arranged, even among those in the educated middle mating practices of North Americans appear strange to those ment, marriage. Whatever its end, mate selection is an institu- toward marriage. They posit that socially defined dating and whose customs include arranged marriages and the absence of class. In cities such as New Delhi, families routinely place ads tionalized feature of social life. According to family sociologist courtship is an important pathway to more successful mar- courting. calling for Indian women who are university graduates, who Ira Reiss (1980), all known societies exhibit some form of riages. However, this is frequently not the viewpoint for are tall, and who have a fair complexion. Thus parents with courtship, marriage, and family that ensures the production many others, as research since 2001 suggests. Indeed, an dark-skinned daughters have a harder task getting their daugh- the bride’s parents received a “bride price,” the mating process and nurturing of young people. The process of mate selection increasing number of people are either delaying marriage or ters married. Although India’s system of mate selection has changed considerably during the 1990s, when there was a dra- ranges from agreements and arrangements among religious or not marrying at all. Some are pursuing alternatives to mar- adjusted somewhat to modernization, especially among the matic decrease in the number of marriageable women. Accord- community leaders or the families of prospective partners to riage (see Chapter 7). Others, as the research indicates, con- middle class, for millions of Indian women arranged marriage ing to Chinese census data, the ratio of single men to women choices made by the partners themselves with only limited tinue to simply “hook up” and/or “hang out” with little hope remains the norm. It is what defines India’s status quo, which was about three to one. Although in the past the majority of consultation with parents or other relatives. that it will lead to marriage, if that is their goal. For still oth- is ultimately male-dominated (Mathur, 2006). Chinese adults were married by age 30, in the mid-1990s more ers, age is an important factor that impacts the dating experi- than 8 million Chinese in their 30s had not yet married, and ence. For many later-life individuals who are dating, for the ratio of men to women in this age group was a staggering Mate Selection Cross-Culturally example, especially older women, love, marriage, and/or a Mate Selection in the United ten to one. Moreover, it is estimated that there will be as many long-term relationship is not necessarily the goal of dating. as 40 million single men in China by 2020 (McCurry and Alli- How do people around the world select a marriage or life part- (See section on “Dating in Later Life” later in this chapter.) States: A Historical Perspective son, 2004). Among other things, this shortage of women in ner? As we have indicated, in Western societies some form of In addition, not all dating is heterosexual. As we discuss more the pool of potential mates has led to a shift from traditional courtship and dating is the major process used to select a mate. fully later in this chapter, lesbian and gay couples, like het- Historically, mate selection in the United States has been means of mate selection to new and unconventional means (by However, most of the world’s societies do not have the “open” erosexual couples, date for recreational and entertainment based on notions of romantic love, a sentiment shared by both Chinese standards) of finding a mate. For example, some Chi- courtship and dating system common in the United States and purposes, but the development of love and long-term rela- women and men. For most contemporary Americans, choos- nese men are placing ads in major newspapers begging women other Western nations. Rather, mate selection varies across a tionships are most often the goal. And finally, many dating ing a mate is the culmination of the process of dating, to respond, with some men indicating in their ads that they continuum of practices around the world. These customs range relationships are based solely on material or sexual interests, although not necessarily its goal. Although dating, by defini- have a “good bathroom”—the way to a modern Chinese from arranged matches by village shamans who match mates not on notions of romantic love. tion, is supposed to be separate from selecting a marriage part- woman’s heart is a spacious apartment and a decent salary according to astrological signs; to contractual arrangements So what does this mean for current relationships among ner, many Americans nonetheless expect that dating will pro- (McCurry and Allison, 2004). In addition, Chinese women between families (usually fathers), in which a mate may be both heterosexual and homosexual couples? Is today’s pattern vide them with valuable experience that will help them make and men increasingly use computer dating services to help required to serve as an indentured servant to the bride’s parents; of mate selection a continuation of trends of the past? Are an informed choice of a marriage partner (“Hooking Up, them find a mate and even major newspapers begging women to the outright purchase of a mate; to the seemingly free choice dating relationships and mate selection really that different Hanging Out,” 2001; Whyte, 2001). However, courtship and to respond, with some the government has gotten into the of individuals based on criteria ranging from notions of love to today than they were 50 years ago? A century ago? Are they dating are about much more than simply leading one to a mar- physical attractiveness to economic considerations. In some cul- the same around the world? Specific courtship procedures, ital partner. They are also about economic relationships, family tures, mate selection begins as early as infancy, in others the like mate selection generally, have varied considerably from control (or the lack thereof ), power dynamics, competition, process begins at 8 or 9 years of age, and in still others it begins 1The one culture to another and from one historical period to term mate selection is used consistently in marriage and family literature popularity, having sex, recreation, and consumption patterns in descriptions of the process of dating and marriage. However, we thought it in late adulthood. another. In the next section we explore some of the histor- (Ferguson, 2001). Dating has been described by some social was worth noting an interesting and somewhat humorous request from a In some societies, a shortage of marriageable women has dures, like mate selection generally, have varied considerably commentators (for example, Waller, 1937) as a “courtship reviewer of this textbook, who asked if we could change our language from significantly changed traditional patterns of mate selection. ical and cross-cultural trends in courtship, dating, and game” that has its own set of rules, strategies, and goals. Over mate selection to partner selection because the term mate selection sounds rather For example, while mate selection customs in traditional Chi- mate selection. tern of mate selection a continuation of time, changing gender norms and power dynamics have con- like “two lions looking for each other out in the Kalahari Desert.” What do nese society consisted of parent-arranged marriages in which trends of the past? you think?
  • 4. Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 131 130 Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection Strengthening Marriages and Families Talks with Family Therapist Joan Zientek that keeps the problem going. The desired Introducing Family Therapy outcome is change rather than insight. In various chapters throughout this text- Who Can Benefit from Family Ther- book we will call on Joan Zientek, a mar- apy? All individuals and families experi- ital and family therapist, to answer ques- ence problems from time to time and, for tions about how families cope with major the most part, many of these can be problems and what they can do to resolved without therapy. However, when strengthen family relationships. Ms. Zien- a couple marries, the intensity of that bond, tek is a graduate of the Family Institute, its reminiscent impact of each person’s fam- Institute of Psychiatry of Northwestern ily of origin experiences, along with the Date rape is commonplace on college campuses Memorial Hospital Medical School. She has demands of negotiating life as a dyad, today. In response to this growing problem, some been in private practice for over 20 years. often cause latent unresolved issues from colleges such as Hobart College in Geneva, New York, In addition, she presents seminars on vari- childhood to emerge. These are acted out offer date-rape awareness workshops in an attempt to ous family and human relations topics to in the marriage relationship and can be dis- alleviate sexual assault in intimate relationships. school faculties, parent groups, and ser- ruptive and confusing to the couple. Also, vice organizations. In addition, she serves as families move from one life stage to as a consultant to many school districts. Ms. another, from the birth of children to the Zientek developed and conducts a pro- retirement years, some individuals and tributed to adjustments, adaptations, and/or modifications in others imported brides from across the Atlantic. Moreover, the gram entitled FOCUS ON E.Q.: A Social families may need special support to make the rules and expectations of mate selection, culminating in the requirement of parental approval of a mate, especially among Skills Training Program for Kids and is the haven of emotional support. Today many the required adaptations in family patterns process we recognize today. Thus, contemporary patterns of the prosperous classes, put further constraints on the mate author of Mrs. Ruby’s Life Lessons for Kids, a of us still want to believe the myth that an and relationships. At other times, situational storybook and workbook on emotional mate selection are linked to our past. selection process for young people. For instance, throughout ideal family life truly does exist. However, difficulties may be caused by divorce, intelligence. those dreams can be shattered in an remarriage, illness, death, unemployment, this period, young people tended to marry in birth order, and instant by news of the high divorce rate, or relocation. The family therapist also marriage to cousins was not uncommon (Ferguson, 2001). What Is Family Therapy? Family ther- the escalation of suicide among teens, of works with individuals and subsystems of Although parents could not legally choose a partner for Early Courtship and Development of Dating As in many apy is a systems approach to helping fami- children being killed by the hands of their the family, treating problems that stem their offspring, they continued to exercise considerable power lies function more effectively. It views the parents, and by the economic struggles of societies around the world, mate selection in the United States has from emotional and biochemical issues, over mate selection well into the eighteenth century. Daugh- family as a web of interlocking relation- a good portion of our country. At the same such as depression, attention deficit disor- always centered on heterosexual pairing or coupling. Because the ters, in particular, were strictly supervised. If a young man ships within which every member is inti- time, we live in a culture of high expecta- der, or addictions. Nonetheless, the family process was meant to lead to legal marriage, historical descriptions wanted to court a young woman, he had to meet her family, mately linked in a powerful way with tions, prosperity, and a cultural mandate to therapist always maintains a systems frame- and early mate selection research focused only on heterosexual cou- get the family’s permission to court her, and be formally intro- every other person in the family. Family have it all: monetary success, a wonderful work, knowing that changes any individ- ples. Thus, the discussion that follows is based on historical and duced to her. In fact, colonial law required a man to secure the therapy starts with the assumption that an family, and above all, great sex. The myth ual(s) make influence and are influenced permission of a woman’s father before he could court her. Even individual’s problems are an overt manifes- that the perfect life is possible for all leads research data for heterosexual mate selection. by the system in which they live. tation of a larger, less obvious family sys- to feelings of dissatisfaction that become In the early history of the United States, mate selection after a man gained permission to court a particular woman and Do Myths about Family Life Have Any tems problem. Thus, problems are seen as intolerable when the standards are sky was characterized by community, family, or parental control the two people were formally introduced, they were often Relationship to How Families Func- existing between people, rather than high. According to Joshua Cole- over the process. It included an array of activities, almost all chaperoned (especially upper-class women) at social events. tion? They can. Family relationships are solely within them. Unlike psychoanalysis, man (2003), author of Imperfect Harmony, of which involved couples keeping company under family or This process of mate selection eventually assumed a formal which delves into the origin of problems, “There is an enormous amount of pressure often portrayed in the sitcoms of the 1950s community supervision. In colonial times marriage was con- pattern referred to as “calling.” In this form of mate selection, ideal.” Ì family therapy focuses on the circular inter- on marriage to live up to an unrealistic and in the love songs that have endured sidered of utmost importance in bringing order and stability the initiative and control were in the hands of women. For action between and among individuals over time as smooth, effortless, and a to daily family living. Thus, there was a stress on coupling example, a male suitor would be invited to call upon a female and mate selection. During this period, couples came at her home. He was expected to come “calling” only if he was together through a variety of means, including matrimonial invited to do so. The invitation usually came from the mother advertisements and third-party go-betweens. Demographic of the woman, but eventually the woman herself extended the Keeping company involved a variety of activities, and tional, and mandatory schooling; and the mass movement of considerations as well as very precise cultural norms often invitation. If a woman had several suitors at one time, a man couples kept company in some unique and interesting ways. women (predominantly working-class women) into the mills dictated the ways in which couples came together (Ramu, might be told that the woman was not at home to receive For example, in colonial New England, unmarried couples and factories, allowing them increased contact with men. 1989). For example, due to a severe shortage of women in the him. In this instance, he was expected to leave his calling card. practiced bundling, in which they spent the night in bed These events helped loosen parents’ hold on their children. American colonies, different patterns of mate selection If this happened many times, it was meant to give the man the together, wrapped in bundling blankets or separated only However, the mass production of the automobile probably had evolved. Some men cohabited with Native American women; message that the woman was no longer interested in him by a long wooden bundling board down the middle of the the most profound impact on the course of mate selection in others imported brides from across the Atlantic. Moreover, (Whyte, 2001). If a serious relationship developed between a bed. Only the outer garments could be removed, and the North America. The automobile increased the mobility of the requirement of parental approval of a mate, especially couple, they advanced from calling to “keeping company.” woman sometimes was placed in a sack sealed at the neck. young people and made a number of activities and places among the prosperous classes, put further constraints on Keeping company was a very formal and upright relation- This arrangement evolved in response to harsh winters and accessible to them. It also gave young people a new and private the mate selection process for young people. For instance, ship that developed only after people had become attracted the difficulty of traveling, both of which made it difficult place for getting together, a pattern of dating that involves throughout this period, young people tended to marry in to or felt romantic about each other. According to Martin for a young man to return home after an evening of court- women and men meeting in groups, playing similar roles in birth order, and marriage to cousins was not uncommon Whyte (2001), keeping company was a precursor of the twen- ing. Although such a practice would seem to discourage sex- initiating dates, and sharing equally in the cost of activities. (Ferguson, 2001). tieth-century custom of “going steady.” Unlike in calling, ual contact, it apparently did not. Researchers on the topic Initiative and control in the mate selection process shifted Dictated the ways in which couples came together (Ramu, couples who kept company were expected to be monoga- estimate that approximately one-third of all eighteenth-cen- from women to men. Men now asked women out, instead of 1989). For example, due to a severe shortage of women in the mous—that is, a woman was expected to keep company with tury brides were pregnant at the time of their wedding. waiting to be invited to call upon women. And courting American colonies, different patterns of mate selection only one man. Keeping company was a very formal and Significant for the evolving pattern of dating in the United moved from the parlor to the front seats and backseats of cars, evolved. Some men cohabited with Native American women; upright relation. States were industrialization; the rise of free, public, coeduca- resulting in the emergence and institutionalization of dating.
  • 5. 132 Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 133 increases in years, the percentage of older Americans is FIGURE 5.1 Writing Your Own Script expected to increase to around 20 percent of the population SEX RATIOS BY RACE AND ETHNICITY by the year 2030 (U. S. Census Bureau, 2003). Not only are Personal Biography and Social Structure Americans living longer and healthier lives, as they age they 159 160 are more actively engaged in or looking for meaningful inti- mate relationships. Today, more than 40 million Americans 140 129 over 40 are single, divorced, widowed, or never married. Not Selecting a Mate 117 Race: African American, white Ameri- essay. How do you feel about interracial 120 that all of them are seeking mates, but many are. Of these can, Asian American, Native American, dating and marriages? Do you know any- singles, more than one-half (25 million) are women, many of Think about the structure of mate selec- 100 91 Puerto Rican, Mexican American, other one who is dating or married to a person whom are more fit and health-conscious than their parents’ tion in U.S. society generally and in the var- Latino, other race. of a different racial group? What prob- 80 ious social groups to which you belong. generation, have a younger mind-set, and are seeking dating lems, if any, have they encountered? Age: 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 55, 65, Write a short essay that includes an analy- partners at record numbers. Traditionally, young women 60 Have you ever been involved in an interra- 75, 76 or older. sis of your mate selection in terms of the dated with the ultimate goal of getting married and having cial relationship? If not, would you con- 40 Educational level: Fifth grade or below, following framework. children. However, as women age, these become less and less sider such a relationship? What barriers do eighth grade only, some high school, First, think about what initially attracts 20 an issue; they are no longer the primary focus and reason for you think you would encounter if you high school graduate, some college, col- you to another person. Consider this ques- dating. But reentering the dating scene when one is older is were a partner in such a relationship? Are lege graduate, graduate or professional 0 tion within the context of some or all of the not an easy matter as the rules of the game have changed sig- any members of your immediate family school. Hispanics Asians Non-Hispanic African following possibilities: physical attractive- nificantly over the past decade or more. Paula England, a dating or married interracially? If yes, how Whites Americans Religion: Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Mus- ness, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, do you feel about these relationships? To 55-year-old Stanford University sociology professor and divor- lim, Buddhist, Mormon, Lutheran, Unifi- residence, occupational status, popularity, what extent do parents, relatives, and one cée, for example, speaking of her dating experiences after her cation Church, Orthodox Jew, Jehovah’s Source: Maureen Jenkins, 2005, “Black Woman’s Quandry.” Chicago Sun-Times social status, personality, character. Are you who is dating or married to a person of a divorce, says that what she experienced after her divorce, was Witness, atheist, other. (December 7): 64–65. U.S. Census Bureau, 2006, Statistical Abstract of the attracted to people very much like you, or United States (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office): 15, Table 13. different racial group? What problems, if the feeling of being back in high school again, but the rules Blood relatives: First cousin, second the opposite? any, have they encountered? friends’ atti- and conventions of dating had changed and she didn’t know cousin, third or more removed cousin. Next, ask your parents or others with tudes about interracial dating and mar- them (quoted in Jayson, 2005:4). Gender: Same sex. whom you are close and whose opinions riage affect your dating and marital choices? Ì Older people, like their younger counterparts, date, fall in you value, whom among the following today, they say, is not oriented to marriage as it was in the past. Also think about the following questions, love, and behave romantically. Older adults tend to view they would object to if you dated or The changing rules of dating or lack thereof have left many and incorporate your responses in the romance similarly to younger people—consisting, for instance, married: people confused about dating as the various studies of dating of intimate activities such as candlelit dinners, flowers, candy, on college campuses suggest. However, this confusion in not and other gifts. For many older men, as for many younger limited to the young on college campuses, nor is it limited to men, sex and romance are closely linked. However, there are fast-track young people in corporate America who are dating. unique challenges that older adults face that distinguish their Some social scientists have gone so far as to suggest that the the beginning of this chapter. As was pointed out, women and As increasingly more older adults return to the dating in not dating experiences from those of younger people. Women, it automobile became, in some sense, a “bundling bed on men on college campuses today “hang out,” spending time limited to the young on college campuses, nor is it limscene, seems, especially later-life women, face unique relational chal- wheels.” together, but rarely do they “date” in the old-fashioned sense. they are confronted with a different (sometimes radically dif- lenges in today’s dating scene. For example, in a recent study of On the one hand, the dating pattern might be a “hookup,” ferent) oftentimes confusing set of rules and expectations the dating and courtship experiences of 15 women 60 to 75 Dating in the United States: The 1920s through the 1990s wherein two people get together briefly for casual sex without about dating in today’s society. years of age, the researchers found three major themes: the By the 1920s, amid the increased affluence and leisure of the any emotional commitment. On the other hand, a college couple Although much of the discussion of contemporary dating need for independence, the need for companionship, and gen- white middle classes, dating became the major method of mate patterns (as in the past) is descriptive of the white middle class, Dating among the general population, like on college campuses, der role conflict between dating partners. The dating experi- selection in this country. The affluence and leisure of the white with some limitations it can be generalized to other groups. In has become very time-contained, sometimes existing only for the ence for these women created dialectical tensions between middle class gave rise to a youth culture whose members were the next section we discuss dating patterns among later-life moment for sexual or recreational purposes, with no pretense themselves and their dates. The strongest tension perhaps was relatively free to pursue their personal interests and social life. adults. In addition, later in this chapter we pay particular the need for independence versus the need for companionship. that it is a prelude to courtship or marriage. New dating trends in The rigid Victorian sex ethic (see Chapter 6) of the past was attention to the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexual The women in this study clearly enjoyed and desired the com- the twenty-first century have led some observers to suggest dat- orientation in patterns of dating. replaced with a new sexual intimacy as part of the courtship panionship of their male dates, but they also prided themselves ing is no longer the self-evident activity that it was in the past. process. Couples took the initiative to get to know each other; on their independence and did not want to give it up (Walker, That is, what constitutes dating today has become so ambiguous they dated for fun, pleasure, relaxation, and recreation rather Dickson, and Hughes, 2005). that many singles, after “getting together” with someone they Dating Among Later-Life Adults In general, the women in the study said that they wanted to than with marriage as the primary goal. This new method of like, find themselves wondering afterward if it was a date or not. date; they enjoyed dating, but they did not see marriage as a mate selection moved from one controlled by parents to one According to Jeff Wise, a self-defined “media coordinator” for viable option. Unfortunately, this created relational problems for Typically in the United States when we think about dating, based on the open and mutual choice of peers. mutuality and the American Dating Association based in Los Angeles, there is them because most of the later-life men they met wanted to get coupling, and mate selection we focus our attention on the sharing than on traditional gender roles. The 1990s trend of such a thing today as a nondate date. When two people go out, if married. Some of them reported losing good dating partners and young. However, dating and mate selection occurs throughout dating as recreation and entertainment, with an emphasis on one person is not aware of the romantic intentions of the other, losing very satisfying relationships due to their refusal to get the human life cycle, albeit a somewhat different process sociability, continues to cause a change in the pattern or progres- then it is a nondate date. Risk avoidance is at the base of this kind married or cohabit. Interestingly, these women chose their desire depending on one’s age. According to a growing body of sion of intimacy and commitment from initial meeting to mar- to remain independent over their need for companionship. They research and popular articles on dating, the dating game of getting together—avoiding getting hurt if the person you are riage. Describing contemporary mate selection in the United were willing to be lonely rather than give up their independence changes significantly after the age of 40. In a dating world that getting together with ultimately rejects you (McKeough, 2001). States, a colleague of ours commented, with some degree of frus- or become a caretaker for an older partner. The paradox is that has changed tremendously over the last several decades, the Although some people are fed up with the direction of contem- tration: “People don’t date anymore: they just get together; they the women also wanted to maintain the relationship at its pre- standard parameters of dating from your teens to your mid-20s porary dating and yearn for dating patterns of old, most social just have sex, live together, and then go their separate ways.” sent level of intimacy while not committing to a long-term, rela- are no longer the norm. For example, in 2005, Match.com, an demographers predict a continuation of the current trends, tionship (Walker, Dickson, and Hughes, 2005). For older online dating, relationships, singles, and personals service, Although this was a nonscientific observation, it is nonetheless which they contend are pervasive and persistent across advanced women and some older men as well, remarriage, in their view, is reported that registrations on their dating Web site by people fairly consistent with scientific research that reports that con- Western societies (Popenoe and Whitehead, 2002). fraught with complications, such as the eventual inheritances of 50 years old and older had increased 340 percent since 2000 temporary dating patterns include considerably more casual sex- Indeed, many scholars and others who study contemporary children and risks to pensions and alimony of widows and divor- (Jayson, 2005). ual involvements and fewer committed relationships than in American dating patterns suggest that today’s changed patterns cées. For these older adults, then, rather than mingle assets, they The proportion of older people in American society has the past. Recall, for example, the research reported on at of dating may be due to the reduced pressure to marry. Dating choose not to marry (Kilborn, 2004). increased dramatically in recent decades. As life expectancy
  • 6. Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 135 134 Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection DEBATING SOCIAL ISSUES and free communication online. Other 12-point type. Providers that failed to comply vory pasts could avoid detection by signing opponents, such as the CEO of Date.com, would be fined each day they were out of up with a fake identity. Consequently, such To Regulate or Not— believe that criminal background checks compliance. These legislative initiatives a screening process could cause members That is the Question give consumers a false sense of security with would also have international legal conse- to develop a false sense of security. Oppo- checks that are not 100 percent accurate. quences in that the mandates contained in nents accuse those in favor of such legisla- Regulating Online Dating Services They contend that most reported crimes pro- them would apply to any online service tions of creating a problem where one does posed legislation. Thus, instead of requiring provider, even those in foreign countries as not exist, arguing that such laws would be regulation through legislative action, nline dating services are a lucrative O long as the company in question was sign- “legislative overkill.” They advocate instead responsible companies in the industry and growing industry that continues to ing up members in the legislating state for “self-regulation” of the online dating should continue to promote safety guide- draw concerns about the manner in which (Heydary, 2005). industry through better business models and lines to those in the online dating commu- its members conduct themselves. Some Currently, True.com, is the only online policies. They argue that attempts to regu- nity (Online Personals Watch, 2006). politicians as well as many among the pub- dating service that conducts criminal back- late the industry amount to special-interest According to True.com, a false sense of lic at large believe there are inherent dan- ground and marital status checks on all legislation that takes a market differentiator users of online dating services who nd gers throughout the entire Internet. They new members. The company’s founder of a particular online dating service and, checks are not perfect, True.com and other believe online dating sites, in particular, can says legislation to regulate the industry through legislation, enforces it on the entire proponents argue that such checks do, or be havens for unsavory people and indeed would save lives, property, and heartache industry (Heydary, 2005). will, provide some assurance to online dat- criminals, stalkers, and rapists who lurk on and prevent rapes, robberies and assaults. According to the president of IDEA- sec not perfect, True.com and other propo- the Internet using dating services to gain He and other supporters believe that OASIS, the Internet Dating Executive nents argue that such checks do, or will, pro- access to people they would not otherwise online dating services owe it to their mem- Alliance/Online Association for Social Indus- vide some assurance to online dating service have access to. This, they believe, poses a bers to inform them of potential hazards try Standards, the cure is worse than the members (Heydary, 2005). grave danger for dating service users, most and that such regulation of the industry problem; it forces the hand of online busi- Essentially, on one side of the debate communications, and personal advertise- of whom have no idea about the criminal would bring many more single people, nesses and impairs the rights of free speech are those who believe online dating sites ments accessible by the residents of the What do you think? Should online dat- background of the people they meet and currently not using online dating services, and free communication online. Other should be regulated by government legis- respective state stating that they have not ing services be regulated by the govern- are matched with through these services. In into the industry, once they perceived it as opponents, such as the CEO of Date.com, lation to protect and increase safety for conducted felony conviction or FBI searches ment or should they be allowed to self- this context, a growing number of voices safe (Online Personals Watch, 2006). believe that criminal background checks love seekers, who too often believe they on the particular individual (Heydary, 2005). regulate? Do you think that the support for are calling for something to be done to pro- Those either wavering or outright against give consumers a false sense of security are safe with someone dangerous they Some states have proposed legislation that industry regulation by True.com Online tect Internet users of online dating services. such regulation argue that criminal back- with checks that are not 100 percent accu- have met and gotten to know online (Far- would require online dating service Dating Service is simply a thinly veiled psta- As a result, an increasing number of U.S. ground checks do not guarantee the safety rate. They contend that most reported rell, 2005). Proponents include lawmakers providers to conduct searches for felony and tus, or both? If not government regulation states have responded to these concerns by of online dating service members. Various crimes involving the Internet come from across the country, many of who have sexual offense convictions from a national or self-regulation, what, if anything, do proposing laws to regulate online dating dating services such as Match.com oppose chat rooms, which would sers of online dat- drafted and introduced legislation that will database containing at least 170 million you think should be done? Have you ever debate over the merits of legislative regula- such legislation, arguing that criminal back- ing services who nd checks are not perfect, require online dating services to conduct criminal and sexual offender records. These used an online dating service? If yes, did tion as opposed to self-regulation through ground checks are ineffective because True.com and other proponents argue that criminal screenings on its members or post bills also set out specific wording that must people you were matched with? Ì you feel safe and comfortable with the better business models and policies national criminal databases are incom- such checks do, or not be regulated by the prominent warnings on their Web site’s be used in the warning and require that the (Heydary, 2005). plete—thus criminals and those with unsa- nesses and impairs the rights of free speech home page, all member profiles, e-mail warning be in bold capital letters in at least dating has traditionally fulfilled for the individual and, ulti- As we have indicated, dating today, whether among young Functions of Dating: Past and it is nonetheless fairly consistent with scientific research that mately, for society’s continuity. The meaning and functions of or later-life couples, is much more casual, with fewer conven- reports that contemporary dating patterns include consider- Present dating, of course, depend in large part on the person’s age and tions and formalities. This means that women across age ably more casual sexual involvements and fewer committed sex and the particular stage in the dating. leisure of the white groups are setting the boundaries from whether he will open relationships than in the past. Recall, for example, the research middle class gave rise to a youth culture whose members were chance. However, whether by choice or by chance, a good reported on at the beginning of this chapter. As was pointed Of all the stages in the mate selection process, dating is the one relatively free to pursue their personal interests and social life. number of older women are finding that they can readily do out, women and men on college campuses today “hang out,” that carries the least commitment to continuing the relation- The rigid Victorian sex ethic (see Chapter 6) of the past was without men. Some say they are simply looking for a date or spending time together, but rarely do they “date” in the old- ship. So why do people date? The reasons are many and varied; replaced with a new sexual intimacy as part of the courtship groups are setting the boundaries from whether he will open- fashioned sense. On the one hand, the dating pattern might be however, researchers have identified some specific functions process. Couples took the initiative to get to know each other; for friends but not a commitment. Some older women are a “hookup,” wherein two people get together briefly for casual they dated for fun, pleasure, relaxation, and recreation rather looking for marriage; others want a relationship without legal sex without any emotional commitment. On the other hand, a ? than with marriage as the primary goal. This new method of entanglements; and still others just want companionship (U.S. college couple Dating among the general population, like on According to some observers, the principle of status mate selection moved from one controlled by parents to one Census Bureau, 2000; Kilborn, 2004; Jayson, 2005). college campuses, has become very time-contained, sometimes grading and achievement may have been opera- based on the open and mutual choice of peers. mutuality and To be sure, for singles of both genders, the dating game is existing only for the moment for sexual or recreational pur- ble in the 1930s, but the changing values govern- sharing than on traditional gender roles. The 1990s trend of more complex once you mature. Potential matches tend to poses, with no pretense that it is a prelude to courtship or mar- ing sex roles today have reduced the importance dating as recreation and entertainment, with an emphasis on have a past—children, former spouses, maybe old flames that riage. New dating trends in the twenty-first century have led of status seeking among contemporary dating couples. Do sociability, continues to cause a change in the pattern or pro- have not quite died out. The need for understanding and com- some observers to suggest dating is no longer the self-evident you agree? Has status grading and achievement decreased gression of intimacy and commitment from initial meeting to promise may be greater. With women outliving men and given activity that it was in the past. That is, what constitutes dating in dating today? On college campuses in particular? Do col- marriage. Describing contemporary mate selection in the that many older men often seek younger women to date today has become so ambiguous that many singles, after “get- lege women still attempt to date the most popular athletes United States, a colleague of ours commented, with some potential date to be up to 10 years younger. Perhaps with a ting together” with someone they like, find themselves won- or other high-status men on campus? Do college men still try degree of frustration: “People don’t date anymore: they just get change in societal views of what are acceptable partnerships, dering afterward if it was a date or not. According to Jeff Wise, to date the most popular or most attractive women? Does together; they just have sex, live together, and then go their older women will have a larger pool of eligible males to date in a self-defined “media coordinator” for the American Dating status play a role in your dating behavior? Explain. separate ways.” Although this was a nonscientific observation, the future (Jayson, 2005). Association based in Los Angeles, there is such a thing today as
  • 7. Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 137 136 Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection Figure 5.2 FIGURE 5.3 EXOGAMY AND ENDOGAMY in Mate Selection Exogamy and Endogamy IN MATE SELECTION INTERNET RESOURCES Applying the Sociological against you because you live in the singles pool. In the first half of 2003, worst city for dating. According to a consumers spent over $214 million for Imagination recent study, Austin, Texas, is the best online dating services. I city for dating and Kansas City, Missouri, On a date, first impressions do count: The Dating Game: Playing by the is the worst. Men take only 15 minutes to decide if I Numbers Statistically speaking, if we count the a woman is worth a second date. For THE POOL OF ELIGIBLES entire singles population of a city, the women, the clock is ticking much ave you ever looked at someone and H best place for single people seeking a slower—they take an hour or more were instantly attracted to her or date is New York, where 50 percent of pondering whether to get together him? Wondered what it would be like to state residents are unmarried, and again on a second date. Different ethnicity Family/blood kin Same sex Different race date her or him? Have you ever won- Washington, DC, where a staggering dered what the odds were of you meet- 70 percent of the population is single. Sources: Meredith Broussard, 2006, “10 Dating Statistics Different religion Never-married, age 45+ Older or younger individuals ing the perfect date or mate, falling In contrast, the worst cities are in the You Ought to Know.” Personalads.cc/full.php. Sperling’s madly in love, and establishing a long- states of Idaho, where 60 percent of BestPlaces, 2006, “America’s Best (and Worst) Cities for Political persuasion Specific personal qualities/characteristics term relationship? Have you wondered the people are married, and Utah, Dating.” http://www.best-places.net/ docs/studies/Dat- just how or in what way you would meet where 59 percent of the people are ingCities.aspx. “Online Dating Fact Sheet,” 2006, Online Dating Magazine, your mate? According to some observers married. Educational attainment Different geographic regions Different social classes I http://www.onlinedatingmagazine.com. of the dating scene, dating is a numbers Statistically, the “find-someone” odds game; there are statistics concerning just favor men: There are 86 unmarried Female/male mortality Incarcerated/institutionalized individuals Confirmed singles about every dating phenomenon that What is your dating IQ? Were you men for every 100 unmarried women, people have experienced. For example, already aware of some of the facts and although in some regions of the coun- did you know that most married couples The pool of eligibles is limited by two opposing forces: EXOGAMY AND ENDOGAMY figures presented above? As with other try the gender ratio favors women. (63 percent) were first introduced to one I topics we have studied, there are a wide Got someone hot in your dating sights another through a network of friends? Source: Adapted from a drawing by John Chauncey Byrd, Chicago, 1993. variety of Web sites and links that provide and want to reveal your interest? Fifty- (Broussard, 2006). Or that the city you facts and figures about dating. For exam- one percent of singles say they use flat- live in just might be the worst place in ple, Match.com regularly conducts surveys tery as a tactic to reveal their interest in the world to find a date? To answer some and provides interesting data about dat- someone; 25 percent use touching, the public about their attitudes, a survey conducted in April of your questions about dating, consider white. However, only 17 percent of white students who ing and issues related to mate selection. and another 23 percent send the word the following statistics and facts: 2000 asked respondents about their actual dating practices and According to one Match.com survey, 98 attended integrated schools said they had dated an African out through a friend. percent of single men are looking for a found that whites had the lowest rate of interracial dating I American, while 33 percent had dated a Latina/o and 15 per- I Almost one-half of adult Americans (44 Think you are going to find a date sit- long-term relat(and statistics about dating. (35.7 percent) and Asian Americans had the highest, with 57 cent had dated an Asian. Similarly, 38 percent of African percent) are single. Does this mean ting on a barstool? Experts indicate that As we always caution when gathering percent of Asians reporting that they had dated someone out- American students had dated a Latina/o, and 10 percent had that there is somebody out there for only 9 percent of women and 2 per- data from the Internet, pay attention to side of their race. Falling in the middle, 56.5 percent of African dated an Asian student (USA Today/Gallup Poll, 1997; Well- you? Or does it give those who are cent of men say that they have found a the reliability of the source and the validity Americans and 55.4 percent of Latinas/os had dated interra- looking, hope? ner, 2005). relationship at a bar or club. Thus, if of the data and figures. Share the data I cially (Wellner, 2005). Overall, men and African Americans Moreover, most of the teens polled (66 percent African you are seriously looking for a date you By the time girls and boys in American you collect with your professor and class- are more open to dating and marrying someone of a different need to explore other meeting places. society reach the age of 16, 78 percent American; 74 percent Latina/o; 75 percent white) said that mates. How do the facts and statistics you I of girls and 83 percent of boys have race than are women and whites. According to Tom Smith, interracial dating is “no big deal” at their schools, and in most If you are into online dating, you are gathered fit what you and your class- been out on at least one date. Director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion cases parents are not a major obstacle. Sixty-four percent of hardly alone: In 2003, 45 million Amer- mates thought you knew about dating I “Hooking up” with that ideal date is Research Center at the University of Chicago, “Many people icans used online dating services—that ered additional information? Ì before you read this chapter and gath- teens said their parents either didn’t mind that they date inter- hard enough without the odds stacked is about 40 percent of the entire U.S. who are honestly accepting of equal treatment across a wide racially or wouldn’t mind if they did. Almost all teens (97 per- range of social interaction would finally draw the line when it cent) said they or other teens date interracially because they came to (a romantic relationship) between the race groups” son they’re dating” (91 percent). Interestingly, among those (quoted in Wellner, 2005:1). students who had not dated interracially, almost two-thirds Some experts believe the future of interracial dating can be a nondate date. When two people go out, if one person is not on college campuses suggest. However, this confusion in not (63 percent) of white students said they would consider dating best understood through the attitudes and behaviors of Amer- aware of the romantic intentions of the other, then it is a non- limited to the young on college campuses, nor is it limited to someone who was not white and 58 percent of African Ameri- ica’s youth. An analysis of various survey results in the past date date. Risk avoidance is at the base of this kind of getting fast-track young people in corporate America who are dating. can students said they would consider dating someone who show that younger people have historically been more open to together—avoiding getting hurt if the person you are getting As increasingly more older adults return to the dating cally dif- was not African American. Most of the teens insisted that racial integration and more positive about interracial dating together with ultimately rejects you (McKeough, 2001). ferent) oftentimes confusing set of rules and expectations interracial dating is no different than any other kind and, in than older people. The latest comprehensive survey of U.S. Although some people are fed up with the direction of con- about dating in today’s society. their opinion, it is here to stay (USA Today/Gallup Poll, 1997; teens on the subject of interracial dating available found that temporary dating and yearn for dating patterns of old, most Clearly, racial attitudes have changed, at least as they are Wellner, 2005). Several sociological factors can help explain more than one-half (57 percent) of teens surveyed who date social demographers predict a continuation of the current reported to researchers and surveyers. However, the changing this rising trend in interracial dating among young people: said that they have dated someone of another race or ethnic trends, which they contend are pervasive and persistent across attitudes on interracial dating notwithstanding, we must be I group (white, African American, Latina/o, or Asian), and advanced Western societies (Popenoe and Whitehead, 2002). ever cautious in interpreting these surveys and other related a heavy immigration of Latinas/os and Asians has increased another 30 percent say they would have no objection to doing Indeed, many scholars and others who study contemporary data as evidence of more people dating across race lines. the chances of meeting people of a different racial/ethnic so. Interesting, and perhaps an important factor here, is American dating patterns suggest that today’s changed patterns Despite such survey reports and the increasing depiction of background; parental and school acceptance of interracial dating. For exam- of dating may be due to the reduced pressure to marry. Dating interracial intimacy in the media, interracial dating and I the enrollment of students of color in public schools nation- ple, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of African American, today, they say, is not oriented to marriage as it was in the past. romance continues to be a significant taboo in American soci- ally has increased to a record high of 35 percent; and Latina/o, or Asian teens who attended schools with students of The changing rules of dating or lack thereof have left many ety. More importantly, attitudes (racial or otherwise) do not I the growing acceptance of interracial marriage. more than one race said they had dated someone who was people confused about dating as the various studies of dating always translate into behavior. Although most surveys query
  • 8. Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 139 138 Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection them find a mate and even major newspapers begging women Sociologists use the term mate selection1 to refer loosely to to respond, with some the government has gotten into the the wide range of behaviors and social relationships individuals mate selection process with several government-sponsored engage in prior to marriage and that lead to long- or short- FAMILY PROFILES computer dating and matchmaking services (Murphy, 2002). term pairing or coupling. An essential element in mate selec- Not surprising, the majority of those using computer dating tion is courtship, a process of selecting a mate and developing services are males (70 percent). The scarcity of Chinese women an intimate relationship. Dating is simply one stage in the has given them a newly found edge in a mate selection process courtship process, a process that involves an increasing level of sexual offense convictions from a national Vicki, Alex, and Kate Byard that historically treated them as chattel. The down side of Chi- commitment that might culminate with the ultimate commit- database containing at least 170 million nese women’s leverage in mate selection, and a jolting ment, marriage. Whatever its end, mate selection is an institu- criminal and sexual offender records. These Length of Relationship: 8 Years reminder of their continued oppression, can be seen in an bills also set out specific wording that must tionalized feature of social life. According to family sociologist observation made by Chinese sociologists and journalists: be used in the warning and require that the Ira Reiss (1980), all known societies exhibit some form of nline dating services are a lucrative O “With men unable to find wives as sexual partners there could warning be in bold capital letters in at least courtship, marriage, and family that ensures the production and growing industry that continues to 12-point type. Providers that failed to comply be an increase in prostitution, rape, and among men, suicide” and nurturing of young people. The process of mate selection draw concerns about the manner in which would be fined each day they were out of (Shenon, 1994:5). In addition, as a result of the shortage of ranges from agreements and arrangements among religious or its members conduct themselves. Some compliance. These legislative initiatives Chinese women, there has been a significant rise in the num- politicians as well as many among the pub- community leaders or the families of prospective partners to would also have international legal conse- bers of bounty hunters, who kidnap city women and deliver lic at large believe there are inherent dan- choices made by the partners themselves with only limited quences in that the mandates contained in them to rural farmers desperate for brides and the increasing gers throughout the entire Internet. They consultation with parents or other relatives. them would apply to any online service believe online dating sites, in particular, can reliance of many rural Chinese men on the booming trade in provider, even those in foreign countries as be havens for unsavory people and indeed kidnapped women in Vietnam and Korea for a source of long as the company in question was sign- should be regulated by government legis- criminals, stalkers, and rapists who lurk on brides. ing up members in the legislating state School, Church, and Work lation to protect and increase safety for the Internet using dating services to gain A transformation of the mate selection process as a result of (Heydary, 2005). love seekers, who too often believe they access to people they would not otherwise the glut of single men is occurring in other nations as well. For How do people around the world select a marriage or life part- are safe with someone dangerous they have access to. This, they believe, poses a Parenting Philosphy: Currently, example, based on figures put out by the United Nations, ner? As we have indicated, in Western societies some form of have met and gotten to know online (Far- grave danger for dating service users, most True.com, is the only online dating service India, with nearly 900 million people, has a sex ratio among rell, 2005). Proponents include lawmakers courtship and dating is the major process used to select a mate. of whom have no idea about the criminal that conducts criminal background and the single population of 133 men to every 100 women. As in across the country, many of who have background of the people they meet and However, most of the world’s societies do not have the “open” marital status checks on all new members. China, Indian custom values males. The custom of arranged drafted and introduced legislation that will are matched with through these services. In courtship and dating system common in the United States and The company’s founder says legislation to require online dating services to conduct marriages in India has survived migration and modernization, this context, a growing number of voices other Western nations. Rather, mate selection varies across a regulate the industry would save lives, criminal screenings on its members or post are calling for something to be done to pro- remaining central to the fabric of Indian society. Although no continuum of practices around the world. These customs range property, and heartache and prevent prominent warnings on their Web site’s tect Internet users of online dating services. exact figures are available, some 95 percent of all marriages in rapes, robberies and assaults. He and from arranged matches by village shamans who match mates home page, all member profiles, e-mail As a result, an increasing number of U.S. India are arranged, even among those in the educated middle other supporters believe that online dating according to astrological signs; to contractual arrangements communications, and personal advertise- states have responded to these concerns by class. In cities such as New Delhi, families routinely place ads services owe it to their members to inform between families (usually fathers), in which a mate may be ments accessible by the residents of the proposing laws to regulate online dating them of potential hazards and that such calling for Indian women who are university graduates, who required to serve as an indentured servant to the bride’s parents; respective state stating that they have not debate over the merits of legislative regula- regulation of the industry would bring are tall, and who have a fair complexion. Thus parents with to the outright purchase of a mate; to the seemingly free choice conducted felony conviction or FBI searches tion as opposed to self-regulation through many more single people, currently not dark-skinned daughters have a harder task getting their daugh- on the particular individual (Heydary, 2005). of individuals based on criteria ranging from notions of love to better business models and policies using online dating services, into the indus- ters married. Although India’s system of mate selection has Some states have proposed legislation that (Heydary, 2005). physical attractiveness to economic considerations. In some cul- Personals Watch, 2006). Ì try, once they perceived it as safe (Online adjusted somewhat to modernization, especially among the would require online dating service Essentially, on one side of the debate tures, mate selection begins as early as infancy, in others the providers to conduct searches for felony and middle class, for millions of Indian women arranged marriage are those who believe online dating sites process begins at 8 or 9 years of age, and in still others it begins remains the norm. It is what defines India’s status quo, which in late adulthood. is ultimately male-dominated (Mathur, 2006). In some societies, a shortage of marriageable women has significantly changed traditional patterns of mate selection. For example, while mate selection customs in traditional Chi- According to Karen S. Peterson (1997), as “Americans cent of African American students had dated a Latina/o, and Self-Advertising: Personal Ads nese society consisted of parent-arranged marriages in which struggle with racially charged issues from affirmative action to 10 percent had dated an Asian student (USA Today/Gallup the bride’s parents received a “bride price,” the mating process record-breaking immigration,” this emerging dating pattern Poll, 1997; Wellner, 2005). Historically, mate selection in the United States has been changed considerably during the 1990s, when there was a dra- among high school students could signal a shift in the way the based on notions of romantic love, a sentiment shared by both matic decrease in the number of marriageable women. Accord- nation will come to look at race. However, although attitudes women and men. For most contemporary Americans, choos- ing to Chinese census data, the ratio of single men to women are changing and interracial dating is more common than ever ing a mate is the culmination of the process of dating, MEETING PARTNERS: WHERE HOW was about three to one. Although in the past the majority of AND before, some racial barriers remain, particularly between although not necessarily its goal. Although dating, by defini- Chinese adults were married by age 30, in the mid-1990s more African American and white teens. tion, is supposed to be separate from selecting a marriage part- than 8 million Chinese in their 30s had not yet married, and Some experts believe the future of interracial dating can be Did you know that dating is not a common practice in most ner, many Americans nonetheless expect that dating will pro- the ratio of men to women in this age group was a staggering best understood through the attitudes and behaviors of Amer- countries? In general, when we speak of dating we are referring vide them with valuable experience that will help them make ten to one. Moreover, it is estimated that there will be as many ica’s youth. An analysis of various survey results in the past to a process of pairing off that involves the open choice of an informed choice of a marriage partner (“Hooking Up, as 40 million single men in China by 2020 (McCurry and Alli- show that younger people have historically been more open to mates and engagement in activities that allow people to get to Hanging Out,” 2001; Whyte, 2001). However, courtship and son, 2004). Among other things, this shortage of women in racial integration and more positive about interracial dating know each other and progress toward coupling and mate selec- dating are about much more than simply leading one to a mar- the pool of potential mates has led to a shift from traditional than older people. The latest comprehensive survey of U.S. tion. In places such as China, India, South America, and most ital partner. They are also about economic relationships, family means of mate selection to new and unconventional means (by teens on the subject of interracial dating available found that countries in Africa, dating is very rare. In addition, it is forbid- control (or the lack thereof ), power dynamics, competition, Chinese standards) of finding a mate. For example, some Chi- more than one-half (57 percent) of teens surveyed who date den in most Muslim countries, including Iraq, Egypt, Iran, popularity, having sex, recreation, and consumption patterns nese men are placing ads in major newspapers begging women said that they have dated someone of another race or ethnic and Saudi Arabia. Only in Western countries such as the (Ferguson, 2001). Dating has been described by some social to respond, with some men indicating in their ads that they group (white, African American, Latina/o, or Asian), and United States, Great Britain, Australia, and Canada is dating a commentators (for example, Waller, 1937) as a “courtship have a “good bathroom”—the way to a modern Chinese another 30 percent say they would have no objection to doing common form of mate selection. In these countries, dating is game” that has its own set of rules, strategies, and goals. Over woman’s heart is a spacious apartment and a decent salary so.white students who attended integrated schools said they perhaps the single most important method by which people time, changing gender norms and power dynamics have con- (McCurry and Allison, 2004). In addition, Chinese women had dated an African American, while 33 percent had dated a get acquainted with each other, learn to interact heterosexually, tributed to adjustments, adaptations, and/or modifications in and men increasingly use computer dating services to help Latina/o and 15 percent had dated an Asian. Similarly, 38 per- and select a mate.
  • 9. Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 141 140 Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection range of social interaction would finally draw the line when it According to some observers, the principle of status grading came to (a romantic relationship) between the race groups” ? and achievement may have been operable in the 1930s, (quoted in Wellner, 2005:1). but the changing values governing sex roles today have Some experts believe the future of interracial dating can be IN OTHER PLACES reduced the importance of status seeking among contem- best understood through the attitudes and behaviors of Amer- porary dating couples. Do you agree? Has status grading ica’s youth. An analysis of various survey results in the past and achievement decreased in dating today? On college show that younger people have historically been more open to campuses in particular? Do college women still attempt to racial integration and more positive about interracial dating Immorality Act that forbade sexual rela- INTERRACIAL DATING interracial couple. However, the reality of date the most popular athletes or other high-status men on than older people. The latest comprehensive survey of U.S. tionships between whites and nonwhites. the “new” South Africa is that most blacks IN SOUTH AFRICA campus? Do college men still try to date the most popular or Although the ban on interracial dating and whites still live in very separate com- teens on the subject of interracial dating available found that most attractive women? Does status play a role in your dat- was lifted in 1985, blacks and whites were munities. Thus, not only interracial dating more than one-half (57 percent) of teens surveyed who date still required by law to live in separate ince the transition to democracy in S and marriage but also interracial friend- ing behavior? Explain. said that they have dated someone of another race or ethnic areas. Thus, couples who dated or married South Africa in the 1990s, what are ships remain rare. And although interracial group (white, African American, Latina/o, or Asian), and across race experienced harassment as race relations there like today? Now, more couples are no longer oddities in big cities, another 30 percent say they would have no objection to doing well as other negative sanctions. Interest- than a decade since the end of apartheid, they are seldom visible in restaurants, shop- so. Interesting, and perhaps an important factor here, is ingly, the statistics on interracial marriage with the mingling of the races occurring at ping malls, or movie theaters. The the rules and expectations of mate selection, culminating in the parental and school acceptance of interracial dating. For exam- under apartheid in South Africa were strik- a level greater than ever before in the postapartheid South African government process we recognize today. Thus, contemporary patterns of ple, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of African American, ingly similar to those in the United States country’s history, are more couples forming does not collect statistics on the number of mate selection are linked to our past. Latina/o, or Asian teens who attended schools with students of today, where the ban against interracial intimate relationships across race? Is there interracial marriages, but it seems that the a nondate date. When two people go out, if one person is not more than one race said they had dated someone who was marriage was lifted almost 40 years ago. more interracial dating in the “new” new democracy and intimate relationships aware of the romantic intentions of the other, then it is a non- For instance, in 1987, the South African each other. Ì democratic postapartheid South Africa? across race have not yet caught up with white. However, only 17 percent of white students who date date. Risk avoidance is at the base of this kind of getting government reported that about 2 percent According to a 2001 news item on interra- attended integrated schools said they had dated an African together—avoiding getting hurt if the person you are getting of all marriages that year were interracial. cial dating in South Africa, such relation- American, while 33 percent had dated a Latina/o and 15 per- The latest figures on interracial marriage in ships, particularly public interracial relation- together with ultimately rejects you (McKeough, 2001). What do you think? Do people in a cent had dated an Asian. Similarly, 38 percent of African the United States indicate that about 5 per- ships, are still unimaginable to some in Although some people are fed up with the direction of con- democratic society have complete free- American students had dated a Latina/o, and 10 percent had cent of all marriages are interracial and South Africa. This is not surprising, given temporary dating and yearn for dating patterns of old, most dom to interact with, date, mate with, and dated an Asian student (USA Today/Gallup Poll, 1997; Well- that includes interracial marriages across that the “new” South Africa, even after a social demographers predict a continuation of the current marry people of a different race? If not, ner, 2005). all groups (not just blacks and whites). decade, is still in its infancy and given the why not? Although there are no longer trends, which they contend are pervasive and persistent across Moreover, most of the teens polled (66 percent African True, the races are mingling more than history of race, racism, and the legal bans laws in South Africa that prohibit interracial advanced Western societies (Popenoe and Whitehead, 2002). American; 74 percent Latina/o; 75 percent white) said that ever before in South Africa. Black and prohibiting the intermingling of the races dating and marriage, why do you think it is Indeed, many scholars and others who study contemporary interracial dating is “no big deal” at their schools, and in most white South Africans increasingly share in South Africa. For decades, under the still uncommon? Why do you think that the American dating patterns suggest that today’s changed patterns public spaces, as well as office cubicles, apartheid government, love, dating, and cases parents are not a major obstacle. Sixty-four percent of United States and South Africa have similar of dating may be due to the reduced pressure to marry. Dating suburban neighborhoods, and books in marriage across the color line were strictly teens said their parents either didn’t mind that they date inter- interracial marriage rates? Explain. today, they say, is not oriented to marriage as it was in the past. integrated classrooms. Indeed, some forbidden. The first Afrikaner government racially or wouldn’t mind if they did. Almost all teens (97 per- prominent blacks, including a former South came to power in 1948, and in 1949 inter- The changing rules of dating or lack thereof have left many cent) said they or other teens date interracially because they Source: “Sunday Q & A: Interracial Dating in South African political prisoner, are married to racial marriages were banned. Eight years people confused about dating as the various studies of dating son they’re dating” (91 percent). Interestingly, among those Africa,” New York Times (May 27, 2001):16. whites, and one of South Africa’s most pop- later, in 1957, the apartheid government on college campuses suggest. However, this confusion in not students who had not dated interracially, almost two-thirds ular soap operas, Isidingo, features an introduced a new section to the country’s limited to the young on college campuses, nor is it limited to (63 percent) of white students said they would consider dating fast-track young people in corporate America who are dating. someone who was not white and 58 percent of African Ameri- As increasingly more older adults return to the dating cally dif- can students said they would consider dating someone who ferent) oftentimes confusing set of rules and expectations was not African American. Most of the teens insisted that about dating in today’s society. interracial dating is no different than any other kind and, in Computer Dating and the Internet the bride’s parents received a “bride price,” the mating process Clearly, racial attitudes have changed, at least as they are their opinion, it is here to stay (USA Today/Gallup Poll, 1997; changed considerably during the 1990s, when there was a dra- reported to researchers and surveyers. However, the changing Wellner, 2005). Several sociological factors can help explain How do people around the world select a marriage or life part- matic decrease in the number of marriageable women. Accord- attitudes on interracial dating notwithstanding, we must be this rising trend in interracial dating among young people: ner? As we have indicated, in Western societies some form of ing to Chinese census data, the ratio of single men to women ever cautious in interpreting these surveys and other related courtship and dating is the major process used to select a mate. was about three to one. Although in the past the majority of data as evidence of more people dating across race lines. I a heavy immigration of Latinas/os and Asians has increased However, most of the world’s societies do not have the “open” Chinese adults were married by age 30, in the mid-1990s more Despite such survey reports and the increasing depiction of the chances of meeting people of a different racial/ethnic courtship and dating system common in the United States and than 8 million Chinese in their 30s had not yet married, and interracial intimacy in the media, interracial dating and background; other Western nations. Rather, mate selection varies across a the ratio of men to women in this age group was a staggering romance continues to be a significant taboo in American soci- I the enrollment of students of color in public schools nation- continuum of practices around the world. These customs range ten to one. Moreover, it is estimated that there will be as many ety. More importantly, attitudes (racial or otherwise) do not ally has increased to a record high of 35 percent; and from arranged matches by village shamans who match mates as 40 million single men in China by 2020 (McCurry and Alli- always translate into behavior. Although most surveys query I the growing acceptance of interracial marriage. according to astrological signs; to contractual arrangements son, 2004). Among other things, this shortage of women in the public about their attitudes, a survey conducted in April between families (usually fathers), in which a mate may be the pool of potential mates has led to a shift from traditional 2000 asked respondents about their actual dating practices and required to serve as an indentured servant to the bride’s parents; means of mate selection to new and unconventional means (by found that whites had the lowest rate of interracial dating to the outright purchase of a mate; to the seemingly free choice Chinese standards) of finding a mate. For example, some (35.7 percent) and Asian Americans had the highest, with 57 of individuals based on criteria ranging from notions of love to Chito respond, with some men indicating in their ads that percent of Asians reporting that they had dated someone out- ? According to some observers, the principle of status grading physical attractiveness to economic considerations. In some cul- they have a “good bathroom”—the way to a modern Chinese side of their race. Falling in the middle, 56.5 percent of African and achievement may have been operable in the 1930s, tures, mate selection begins as early as infancy, in others the woman’s heart is a spacious apartment and a decent salary Americans and 55.4 percent of Latinas/os had dated interra- but the changing values governin dating today? On college process begins at 8 or 9 years of age, and in still others it begins (McCurry and Allison, 2004). In addition, Chinese women cially (Wellner, 2005). Overall, men and African Americans campuses in particular? Do college women still attempt to in late adulthood. and men increasingly use computer dating services to help are more open to dating and marrying someone of a different date the most popular athletes or other high-status men on In some societies, a shortage of marriageable women has them find a mate and even major newspapers begging women race than are women and whites. According to Tom Smith, campus? Do college men still try to date the most popular or significantly changed traditional patterns of mate selection. to respond, with some the government has gotten into the Director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion most attractive women? Does status play a role in your dat- For example, while mate selection customs in traditional Chi- mate selection process with several government-sponsored Research Center at the University of Chicago, “Many people ing behavior? Explain. nese society consisted of parent-arranged marriages in which computer dating and matchmaking services (Murphy, 2002). who are honestly accepting of equal treatment across a wide
  • 10. Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection 143 142 Chapter 5 Dating, Coupling, and Mate Selection Not surprising, the majority of those using computer dating example, based on figures put out by the United Nations, Key Terms services are males (70 percent). The scarcity of Chinese women India, with nearly 900 million people, has a sex ratio among has given them a newly found edge in a mate selection process the single population of 133 men to every 100 women. As in that historically treated them as chattel. The down side of Chi- China, Indian custom values males. The custom of arranged nese women’s leverage in mate selection, and a jolting reminder marriages in India has survived migration and modernization, propinquity sex ratio dating exogamy of their continued oppression, can be seen in an observation remaining central to the fabric of Indian society. Although no dating violence cruising mate selection endogamy made by Chinese sociologists and journalists: “With men exact figures are available, some 95 percent of all marriages in rape marriage market courtship marriage squeeze unable to find wives as sexual partners there could be an India are arranged, even among those in the educated middle acquaintance rape dowries getting together marriage gradient increase in prostitution, rape, and among men, suicide” class. In cities such as New Delhi, families routinely place ads date rape pool of eligibles going steady hypergamy (Shenon, 1994:5). In addition, as a result of the shortage of calling for Indian women who are university graduates, who Chinese women, there has been a significant rise in the num- are tall, and who have a fair complexion. Thus parents with homogamy anticipatory socialization hypogamy bers of bounty hunters, who kidnap city women and deliver dark-skinned daughters have a harder task getting their daugh- them to rural farmers desperate for brides and the increasing ters married. Although India’s system of mate selection has reliance of many rural Chinese men on the booming trade in adjusted somewhat to modernization, especially among the kidnapped women in Vietnam and Korea for a source of brides. middle class, for millions of Indian women arranged marriage Questions for Study and Reflection A transformation of the mate selection process as a result of remains the norm. It is what defines India’s status quo, which the glut of single men is occurring in other nations as well. For is ultimately male-dominated (Mathur, 2006). 1. As you have read in this chapter, dating patterns in the squeeze so significant for African American women? Find United States have changed dramatically over the years. information about the marriage squeeze for other groups of What are the current norms of dating in your community? women. Summary On your college campus? Are these norms different or the 4. Think about the discussion in this chapter of violence in same for each gender? Explain. What do you consider the dating relationships. How prevalent is date rape and other advantages and disadvantages of such norms? What, if any, intimate violence on your college or university campus? changes would you like to see in today’s dating norms? Mate selection refers loosely to the wide range of behaviors and gories in American life, and thus must be considered in any What are some of the attitudes, behaviors, and activities on 2. “Cupid’s arrow does not strike at random.” Explain this social relationships that individuals engage in prior to marriage analysis of mate selection. your campus that encourage male physical and sexual statement. Discuss the predictable factors that influence that lead to short- or long-term pairing. It is an institutional- A wide range of theories exists that attempt to explain aggressiveness and contribute to a climate that is conducive who meets, falls in love with, and marries whom in the ized feature of social life and can be found in some form in all who selects whom and under what circumstances. These toward abuse? Is there any information about male victims United States. human societies, although the exact processes vary widely from theories include explanations in terms of social exchanges of rape on your campus? Have you ever experienced rela- one society to another. In the United States, the mate selection and rewards, stimulus-value-role theories, and filtering the- tionship violence? If yes, how did you handle it? What insti- 3. Define the concepts of “marriage squeeze” and “marriage process, particularly for first marriages, is highly youth-cen- ories. The process of mate selection can be viewed sociolog- tutional supports and services on your campus are there for gradient.” How are the two related? How would the mar- tered and competitive. ically as a sequential or filtering process that stresses victims of dating violence? In your community, city, and riage squeeze and marriage gradient be significant in the Mate selection customs vary widely across cultures. Most homogamy and endogamy. Mate selection in U.S. society is state? lives of a 35-year-old female with a Ph.D. and a 35-year-old researchers have divided mate selection customs along a tradi- mediated by a range of structural and social factors: the male who is a high school dropout? Why is the marriage tional/nonindustrialized and nontraditional/industrialized nature of the marriage market, the marriage squeeze and society continuum. A review of mate selection cross-culturally marriage gradient, race, class, age, sex, religion, education, reveals that many traditional societies now combine tradition- propinquity, family and peers, and cultural ideals about al and contemporary methods of selecting mates. Dating, an beauty and worth. Due to the impact of these factors, we are Additional Resources American invention that first appeared in the 1920s, is the very much like the people we meet, fall in love with, and focus of our courtship system and incorporates a wide range of marry—far more so than can simply be attributed to chance. social relationships prior to marriage. The history of mate Computer technology has had a dramatic impact on the to get students talking about many of the issues discussed in this chapter. Sociological selection in this country has ranged from highly visible nature of mate selection around the world. Increasingly, The book was made into a movie. parental involvement during the colonial and preindustrial couples are using cyberspace not only for recreation but also BECKER, CAROL S. 1988. Unbroken Ties: Lesbian Ex-Lovers. Boston: MCMILLAN, TERRY. 1997. How Stella Got Ber Groove Back. New York: periods to the informal, indirect involvement of parents today. for serious mate selection. Many of these matches are lead- Alyson. An interesting case study approach to lesbian interpersonal rela- Signet Books. This novel is a chronicle of the dating andand marital Dating became a widespread phenomenon in the 1920s and ing to matrimony. tions, including separation. expectations. This novel is a good jump-off for a discussion of age differ- 1930s; in the 1940s and 1950s it filtered down to high school However, not all intimate relationships lead to marriage or KAUFMAN, MICHAEL. 1995. “The Construction of Masculinity and the ences in heterosexual intimate relationships, particularly when the students, who started to “go steady”; in the 1960s, 1970s, and long-term commitment. Couples often break up under the Triad of Men’s Violence.” In Michael Kimmel and Michael Messner, eds., woman is older than the man. 1980s it became a more casual process; and during the 1980s pressure of a variety of sociopolitical factors. Moreover, a Men’s Lives, pp. 13–25. New York: Macmillan. A provocative article that and 1990s dating underwent many changes that reflect con- large number of dating couples are involved in physically or examines male violence in the social context of the construction of mas- Film temporary social and gender roles. Today, dating is based far sexually abusive relationships. Battering and abuse among culinity and the institutionalization of violence in the operation of most more on mutuality and sharing than on traditional gender young couples as early as elementary and junior high school Must Love Dogs. 2005. A romantic comedy centered around the comic aspects of social, economic, and political life in the United States. roles. Given today’s extended life expectancy, an increasing has reached epidemic proportions. The same can be said for potential of Internet dating. After a recent divorce, a fortysomething woman, who is hesitant to get back into the dating line dating, a love tri- number of later-life Americans are entering and reentering the date and acquaintance rape. In both cases, the victims are angle, the search for love and companionship after the death of a loved dating scene. Because dating and mate selection has changed overwhelmingly female. Most intimate relationships, howev- Literary one, and the not so pretty side of love. considerably since some later-life adults have been in the dat- er, survive the problems of human frailty. Couples wishing to FIELDING, HELEN. 1999. Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel. New York: Pen- ing game, many have to learn anew the rules of the dating strengthen and preserve their dating and intimate relation- guin. This lively paperback is witty and full of candor. It captures very game. ships can and do seek family counseling. Given that dating Internet well the way modern women teeter between being independent and a The functions of dating include socialization, development and other intimate partner violence exacts an enormous toll www.CollegeClub.com This Web site, part of the Student Advantage pathetic girlie desire to be all things to all men. It includes Bridget’s quest of self-image, recreation, and status grading and achievement. on individuals, families, and society, national policymakers, Network, allows students to connect with each other; it provides them for the right man, her affair with her charming cad of a boss, e-mail flir- Like all other social behavior and organization, dating is deeply civil society, and communities must be galvanized to address with a variety of information and services from academics to love, dating tations, as well as her mother’s incessant attempts to arrange a date for rooted in the social and historical conditions of life. Race, gen- the pervasive violence in society to protect individuals and relationships, and much more. Bridget with some guy that Bridget does not know. It is an excellent novel der, class, and sexual orientation are basic and central cate- strengthen American marriages and families.