Humans have been practicing dating on a large scale for around, oh, 50 to 75 years or so. Before that, no one dated. Oh, some snuck around, but that wasn’t dating, either.
The very idea of two unmarried people of the opposite gender spending any time together, alone, was unthinkable, once upon a time.
Why? At least for three reasons.
- Of course, the obvious reason most people think of is the unwed pregnancy, illegitimate child, and ensuing ruined lives. It may be hard for some to believe, but when parents and legislators guarded a young woman so closely, it was for her benefit as much as anything.
- Political reasons also factored in; not national politics like we think of these days, but human politics of the family, the estate, the wills, etc. Marriage strengthens families, and thereby, communities, cities, and countries. The foolishness displayed through the ins and outs of the dating mess weakens us all. People and families who desire to get somewhere choose marriage and its strengths, not foolishness.
- Religion forbade it. And before you leap to blame Christianity, think: All religions have strict rules requiring single-mindedness about marriage and deterring the weakness inherent in youthful foolishness. Even religions that permit multiple spouses have strict rules about faithfulness and punishment for unfaithfulness. Even someone who would boast of being the most irreligious, and who had a “special friend”, would call it cheating if that friend stepped out. That’s because the whole idea is universal.
And there was a time, not so long ago, when all people heeded this universal idea against adultery. Oh, there always have been a few out-of-wedlock babies, but just enough to soften the blow of infertility for other people. Now days, we have so many, we don’t think twice about it. Now days, if you see a mom with a baby and no man with her, you could often rightly assume there is no dad in this picture. What a thing to rightly assume!
Tomorrow: Why is it universal?