Dating through the ages
In this system, dating and marriage were viewed as two very separate entities, with marriage marking the graduation from youth into adulthood. Dating in the past was based on initial impression, an assessment made upon first interaction with an individual that determined whether your relationship would continue and what form it would take.
Rather, love was regarded as the product of a constructed arrangement, eventually achieved by couples with aligned resources and values. This, combined with the increasing availability of birth control, led to a relaxation in attitudes toward premarital sex. As we trace the timeline of dating rituals, we can get a better sense of how Americans throughout time understood love and, by extension, the world. Marriage during this time was less a public declaration of mutual affection and more an essential means of legally exchanging property between families.
This new romantic character of courtship plainly took form in the forsaking of traditional highly formalized love letters in favor of letters with a more endearing and poetic tone. Due to this connection with the lower class, the practice was initially mistrusted by parents, but dating quickly replaced calling as the favored model of romance. Art and philosophy began to reflect a new world view in which love was prescribed as the ideal foundation for a marriage, even taking precedent over c onsiderations of property. Courtship and Marriage in Early America. But despite this move towards emotionally based relationships, the compatibility of matches was still strongly emphasized.
Courtship was the ritual that would allow the families to evaluate potential matches and determine if the arrangement would be advantageous. No longer was quantity emphasized, but rather the stress fell on finding a loyal partner.
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