Dating Diary Part Three
Are you a Dating Grump? I am. We DGs are mature daters who constantly complain about the horrors of modern dating in the digital age. Oh, we cry, it’s all so shallow! It’s all so superficial! And yet for some reason we’re still online looking for love.
Dating Grumps are always looking back to a golden age of pre-digital dating. It’s a period of history better known as: when-I-was-young-everything-was-better. But I wonder if we DGs are looking back and longing for good old days that were never really that good?
We seem to have forgotten what a nerve wracking business it was for a man to ask a woman out on a date back then. Remember, we had no internet, texts, emails, Instagram or dating apps to do it with. We poor dating primitives only had the telephone. Today’s dating technology protects you from romantic rejection the way the telephone of old never did. You couldn’t just swipe away your sadness and find somebody new. For any love hungry teenager the telephone was an instrument of torture. You had to summon up all your courage to make that call. First, you dialled her number and as you listened to it ring all the disaster scenarios imaginable were raging inside your head: she won’t remember me! She will remember me — and hates me! Hang up now fool! Too late! Her voice was in your ear: “Hello?”
Back then there was no caller identification, so you had to identify yourself. Your heart was pumping. Your hands were sweating. Your mouth was dry. Your mind was blank. And out it popped: “Ah..umm..err..ahh..”
You’d asked her to go the cinema or out for a drink and there would be this little pause – which seemed to last a lifetime – before she gave her verdict. Sometimes you were lucky. Sometimes you wanted to die.
In those days the actual date itself was a very different experience. At a date for dinner a man was expected to be good at conversation; amusing and with something interesting to say. At times you encountered what were called “awkward silences.” Remember them? Today however, a man just whips out his iPhone and taps into a million and one things to show you and comment on. No more awkward silences. And not much good conversation either.
But have things really changed that much? As the old song puts it, “You must remember this/ a kiss is just a kiss/ the fundamentals still apply, as time goes by.” When I was a teenager that first kiss was the most thrilling thing in the known universe. Is that still true for a generation raised on porn and who regard a**l sex as foreplay? I wonder…
Not long ago I ran into a woman I had gone on a date with forty-five years ago. I asked her, “Do you remember that date we had?” She rolled her eyes and said, “How could I forget!”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she replied. “You came to pick me up from my parent’s place. You sat crossed-legged on the floor with your long hair flowing, and started smoking pot. Then you threw up and passed out on the floor. My parents weren’t very impressed!”
So much for the good old days.
Cosmo Landesman is the former dating columnist for The Sunday Times and writes about love and romance for a wide range of publications including The Times and The Spectator magazine. He is currently single — but remains optimistic that true love is just one date away.