A Chronology of Romantic Affairs
The existence of adult dating can be traced back to the classical Greek and Romans (3) but probably extends back even further in any society and/or social structure that is based on some form of marital union.
Following the creation of the printing press in the 15th century and the subsequent emergence of the newspaper, personal ads were one of the first tools used to make romantic connections.
According to an interesting Huffington Post article (4), personal ads began in England in 1695, primarily for British gentlemen looking for eligible wives.
By 1700, homosexual men were using cryptic personal ads to secure romantic partners in an age when this type of lifestyle was frowned on in general society. In fact, homosexuality was outlawed and punishable by death and would remain illegal in Great Britain until 1967. Homosexual men would also use places known as “Molly Houses” for discreet encounters – but always at the risk of being arrested or worse, killed. By the 1880’s, the use of personal ads for romantic assignations flourished. Soon, members of the European aristocracy, and eventually the general public, began using personal newspaper ads to solicit companionship, a trend that was soon exported to North America by the late 19th century and would remain a dating mainstay for many decades to follow.
The advent of computer technology in the 1960’s led to more discreet options for those seeking extramarital affairs
. According to this article, a team of Harvard University researchers created the first computerized dating service in 1965. By the 1990’s and the introduction of the internet, bulletin boards and chat rooms began to emerge and were used extensively in the dating world, including those looking for discreet encounters.
Prior to that, married men and women had limited options for reaching out for a partner other than their spouse. Beyond their own social circles, those in the early twentieth century who wished to experience adult dating were confined to secret gatherings of like-minded people or nightclubs known for a more free-spirited clientele. Others would post discreet newspaper ads with confidential post office boxes to arrange illicit meetings away from their home and loved ones. However, it should be noted that the “Roaring Twenties” era ushered in a more relaxed attitude to sexual pastimes among consenting adults, particularly women who sported less conservative clothing (think flappers) and attended social gatherings known as “petting parties.” Ironically, this social transformation emerged around the same time as the prohibition of alcohol was launched. Or maybe this monumental loosening of societal attitudes toward sexual behaviour arose partly because of it. (5)
Today, internet dating sites and social media apps have opened the world to those who are looking for that someone special. And they can do so anywhere – from the privacy of their own home, at the office, in the car, on a plane or during an out-of-town business trip – because it all can be done on a personal, mobile electronic device.
A recent study by the Pew Research Centre noted that 15% of American adults have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps. However, what is unique about this study is that usage of online dating services has nearly tripled among 18 to 24-year old respondents since 2013 and doubled among those 55 to 64 years old. Of this older age group, 6% used electronic dating sites and apps in 2013 compared to an increase to 12% by 2015. Until recently, these two demographics haven’t historically been prevalent users of online dating. (6)
Thanks to the millennials, today’s dating trends and the lingo they inspire have created a culture of its own. In the age of Tindr, Grindr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snap let’s take a look at some of the unique categories of dating in the social media age (7). Even though these terms may not completely pertain to married dating, they may provide a few important insights:
- You connect with someone, they really pour on the charm for awhile and then suddenly disappear.
- A term originated by Ellen Scott of Metro UK (8), it means while you’re supposedly dating someone, they “stash you away” from family, friends so only you are seeing them.
- Someone with whom you’d connected and started to see, suddenly ghosts away and then pops up out of the blue.
- Bread Crumbs:
- Someone who engages in a perpetual tease. They constantly leave clues that they’re around, interested, but nothing ever materializes.
- Someone you’re seeing continues to date others without telling you.