Colonial dating and marriage

If you are familiar with computer programming terminology, you can liken dating to a sub-routine that has been added to the system of courtship.

Over the course of this two-part article, I would like to trace how this change occurred, especially concentrating on the origin of this dating "subroutine." Let me begin by briefly suggesting four cultural forces that assisted in moving from, as Alan Carlson puts it, the more predictable cultural script that existed for several centuries, to the multi-layered system and (I think most would agree) the more ambiguous courtship system that includes "the date." The first, and probably most important change we find in courtship practices in the West occurred in the early 20th century when courtship moved from public acts conducted in private spaces (for instance, the family porch or parlor) to private or individual acts conducted in public spaces, located primarily in the entertainment world, as Beth Bailey argues in her book, .

FIND A LIVE ONE The earliest colonists — the Puritans who struggled for every mouthful of food and whose yearly death count exceeded that of any George Romero movie — did not have time for the frippery of love and courtship. Courtship involved finding a woman of childbearing-ish age who had survived the previous winter.

The man plowed things and kept threats of attack at bay.

During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, however, this attitude underwent a significant change.

Since most young adults will marry, the process employed in finding a husband and wife is still considered courtship.

However, an extra layer, what we call "dating," has been added to the process of courting.

Courtship in the Middle Ages was often a matter of parents negotiating in order to increase the family’s power or wealth.

Status, property, and wealth were the deal makers or breakers.

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