What are the Late Years For?
A TGB Extra: Tech Support Fun

Glad My Dating Days are Done

Several neighbors came by for lunch when I was visiting my mother for a few days in the late 1960s. Because I then worked producing a radio talk show that often featured interviews with the biggest music stars of the day, conversation briefly turned to such groups as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Band, The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.

All the women, including my mother, dismissed rock & roll out of hand. It wasn't real music to them.

Remember, these were women born in the 19-teens and 1920s who came of age in the big band era – Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, for example, and singers such as The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Billie Holliday, etc.

I mention this because I don't think that the oldest generation can ever really understand – or accept, sometimes – the culture of the concurrent youngest adult generation.

This came to mind last weekend while reading an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times titled Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy that discusses how dating among the young is done these days.

It is, and always has been, asserts writer, Moira Weigel, related to the economy even if the details differ slightly from generation to generation. Nowadays, corporate language rules in dating, she says:

”First, [men on Tinder] 'reach out.' Then, after spending the night together, they 'follow up.'

“...We constantly use economic metaphors or describe romantic and sexual relations...we have 'friends with benefits' and 'invest in relationships.' An ex may be 'on' or 'off the market.' Online dating makes 'shopping around' explicit. Blog after blog strategizes about how to maximize your 'return on investment' on OKCupid.”

Further, says Weigel, changes to how the workplace operates nowadays, affects dating culture too:

”Back when most people punched clocks at fixed hours, a date might have asked 'Shall I pick you up at 6?' But part-timers, contractors and other contingent workers – who constitute some 40 percent of the American workforce – are more inclined to text one another, 'u still up?' than to make plans in advance.”

An attractive, 30-year-old, single friend tells me that she hardly dates at all. Get-togethers, she explains, are set up with one- and two-line text messages and the guys, as as often as not when the day arrives, text to “postpone” the meeting and she never hears from them again.

Moira Weigel again:

”The generation of Americans that came of age around the time of the 2008 financial crisis has been told constantly that we must be 'flexible' and 'adaptable.' Is it so surprising that we have turned into sexual freelancers?

“Many of us treat relationships like unpaid internships: We cannot expect them to lead to anything long-term, so we use them to get experience.”

No wonder surveys tell us women are postponing marriage. It makes me sad to read this stuff and I'm glad I'm too old to participate. A majority of the comments seem to feel sad too. Here's a sample from a Times reader named Sophie Vandoorne in Paris:

”Wow, this article made me understand a bit more what my daughter had tried to explain to me all these years about the lack of romance in today's American society.

“I just could not believe her when she claimed that men in NY were not about love and romance. They were about work and sex. Being French I would say, yes sex is great darling, it makes one feel alive but aren't sex and love together so much better?

“I could hear her think, 'mom, you are such a dinosaure you don't get it, do you?'

“Well, no I really don't. I still think like Freud taught me that life is about being able to work and to love. If as Steve Jobs urged us to do, you can find work you love, that's even better but can you really live your life without loving someone and being loved in return? Isn't it what people secretly still wish for themselves?

“I guess my daughter is right, I am yesterday indeed.”

Me too, right here in front of you on this page, a dinosaur. Whether it's music or dating or a lot of other things that have changed.

But that's the way it's supposed to be, isn't it? Young folks reject the old ways, old folks resist and the world moves forward. For better or for worse. Usually a bit of both.

Comments

So right. I really started to feel old when music turned to noise. I guess I need a noise appreciation class.

Seems to me a whole lot of men and women stand to get hurt many times in the modern dating "system." Something akin to all the hurt to our ears when forced to listen to modern music?

How people feel about their economic future does have a LOT to do with "romance." (Wow, now I know I'm old, because I can't believe I wrote that sentence.) Nonetheless, it's true.

People need to feel they have a certain amount of stability and security in order to make "investments" in emotional attachments that are likely to lead to houses, children, and other long-term things.

These kids don't feel safe a minute. Looking at today's student loan debt burden and the "job" prospects awaiting them, I don't blame them a bit!

Remembering my own long-ago youth, I too recall how a generation or two in front of us totally didn't get what our world was like ... how harsh it seemed, and how random. I don't want to be today's scolding grandma, and I realize, to my own surprise, that I'm truly not. While I'm not young anymore, I get how it really is.

And like Ronni, I'm so glad not to be young now. It's tough out there.

I am totally confused with the dating scene of the young.

I started noticing with family and friends that their daughters didn't have boyfriends or anyone special. This has gone on for years and I am not sure how they connect.

When I asked about dating ----It seems everyone just hangs together and does things.
A big change from my young days.

Anyone have any insight?


My 25 year old daughter met her boyfriend at work but I would say half of her friends met their boyfriends through online dating - Tinder, Match etc. But however, they meet, it seems to me that they still want the same thing that people have always wanted... a relationship. Even the guys want a girlfriend. And this is in the work hard/play hard city of San Francisco. I really don't see anyone looking for one night stands. My sons are 28 and 32, both are married and their unmarried male friends are really sad that they haven't found someone yet. They're always seeking relationship and dating advice from my daughters-in-law. I've known some of these young men since they were kids and I can see that they really do want to find a mate. The only core difference that I see in this generation is that they definitely delay marriage. It's usually the girls who finally put their foot down after a 5-7 year relationship but the guys relent and step into the world of buying a home and having kids. But, having said that, they certainly do hop into bed on first or second dates in the process of
looking for that special someone and that astonishes me. Very different from my time!

I don't think the internet in any way replaces getting to know people personally, whether at work, random social events, in the neighborhood, or through mutual friends -- however it happened before the internet came along. It's too easy to misrepresent yourself online, or to misunderstand others. I may be old fashioned (no "may be" about it) and overly cautious, but I think the internet, especially the dating sites, is a risky way to meet people. But then, I always was the wallflower.

All of the above & then some. I'm still a romantic & believe that everyone needs someone to love them & to return that love. Fortunately, I have a niece & nephew who did things the old-fashioned way as their parents did. It was lovely & they seem very happy to have done it this way. But they are among the few who go that route.
I love remembering the same thing 54 yrs. ago...........& glad that that was my time. :)Dee

Online dating, iphone dating, or whatever you call it, is here to stay. The young are not very likely to meet anyone at church, or even at work (with so many people working from home), so let's get used to it! That being said, I'm quite sure that today's Millennials are looking for relationship, just as young people always did. I have several young people in my life and am constantly amazed at how they navigate this difficult culture (and economy) we left for them. Let's not be smug about how much better dating and relationships were when we were young—remember that we were the ones who got the "divorce" train of to a roaring start in the 70s. And leave their music alone. I was around in the 50s, and could you imagine worse music than we had then (simple beat, simpler lyrics, stupid ideas of romance)?

When people have no security, when they work irregular hours, when there is little discretionary income, how could they find time or energy for a lasting relationship? If i remember this correctly, marriage rates were way down during the Great Depression too. ( Sonething I read; I did not experience the Great Depression,)

Luckily, my kids are Gen X, not Millennials, but I do note that opportunities for them are not the same as for my generation.

It is odd that people resent immigration, because immigration probably presents the best way to have enough working people to generate SS wages to tax, to support those of us who are retired. Our citizen families are producing fewer children because marriage is being postponed, and when people do have kids, each child represents an expensive lifetime financial investment.

Oh, Ronni!
Please let's not talk about being "too old" for dating. I felt a distinct jolt when I read that.
I am sixty four and just beginning to date after becoming a widow five years ago. Yes, it is not easy. There is a lot of discomfort and some disappointment. But, it is never too late for love. That is something I am counting on. I have come to realize that I do not want to spend the remainder of my life without a partner. I remember the simple joys of sharing special moments and I want to have that again.
The "too old" statement felt a wee bit like "ageism".

STLF: I can't see who is being "smug" in this post and comment thread. People are allowed to have opinions here without being patronized.

The world is dynamic and constantly changing.
Although, we don't have to agree with all those changes we, at least. should be aware of them so that we (old folks) can carry on a conversation without appearing to be the out-of-touch group we are often stereotyped as.

Linda...

Not ageist and there is nothing wrong with feeling that you are no longer interested in something - dating or anything else. I've got 11 years on you. Maybe you'll agree with me in another decade. Or not. We are allowed to change our minds as we grow old just as we were when we were younger.

Good article and comments, but I'm really conflicted about this. Just before reading this post this morning, I was catching up with some old posts on a blog I follow on econ0omic and community development., and the last one I read was about the 'real' American Dream and the nostalgia of the post-WWII era. It strikes me now that relationships share some of the sociological fantasies that came out of that 1945- 65 period as well.

While spending six hours in various waiting rooms of the VA hospital in Madison, WI, yesterday, I heard a lot of conversations among men mostly of the ages 65-80+. Many of these guys really like to talk out loud about their lives, and maybe have few outlets to do so otherwise. Of two who were nearest me at one point, one appeared to be in his late 70's to early 80's, and the other said that he was 69, very soon to be 70. The older one said he's on his own now, his wife having died two years ago. The younger of the two said he was single too, but that he had been married three times. All former wives are still alive and as he said, "keep trying to come back even though they were the ones who had wanted to leave." I'm sure there are some interesting stories there, and I'm curious what they might be. This man seemed like good mate material, on the surface of things. He was well-spoken and seemed at least reasonably intelligent, well-dressed, not unattractive and said that he had "plenty of money" and is still earning a healthy income. He did say that he had moved his mother into his house when she could no longer be on her own, so this may have been a significant factor, but it sounds as though that arrangement is actually working pretty well for both of them and they have a lot of assistance.

At any rate, my point is that I think this perception of relationships being so much better in the past developed long before now and is perhaps based more on myth than reality. As someone who's been married to one person for more than forty years, and as the parent of three men ranging from 32 to 43, I feel bad for young people these days., but I'm not really sure I should. It seems strange to look back at my childhood and young adulthood as idyllic, but I do when I compare things then to things now. My sons and their contemporaries may see things from a completely different perspective.

I agree that it's tough out there for young people, and I can't imagine using the Internet as my main means of meeting people. Yet, my son--who is 34--met a wonderful woman that way. They lived together for three years and then got married last fall. I admired how deliberate they were in determining whether they really were meant to be together over the long haul. They even did pre-marital counseling.

I have no nostalgia for the way it was when I was young. There was tremendous pressure on us to "couple-up" and get married straight out of college. Most of my friends did just that, and a lot of those marriages didn't last. I, meanwhile, felt like a loser because I was still single at 30. In the end I married a man much better suited to me than the ones I was attracted to when I was younger.

It's also true that men had all the power in relationships when I was young. They were the ones who did the asking while women had to hang back and wait to be asked. They could have multiple sexual relationships, while women were supposed to remain virginal. And after marriage, they weren't expected to do housework even if their wives worked. Not a great system, in my opinion.

One final comment: I wish those of you who don't like rock music would refrain from calling it "noise." I don't like Big Band music, or jazz, but I would never say anything that insulting about it. Have some respect for other people's tastes.

For the past eight years, one of my interests has been a small quirky online roleplaying game. I started as a shy, nervous player, learned leadership skills I'd never acquired in my working life, very quickly became a moderator as well, and have even been trusted to do some technical support. It's an 18-or-over game. (Yes, that means what you think it means: NSFW is allowed, but as in real life, we make players keep it behind closed doors so that people whoaren't looking for that kind of thing can still enjoy the game. And we do our best to weed out precocious adolescents lying about their age.) I have made many friends who are a lot younger than me.

There are a lot of virtual "relationships" in the game. This comes with emotional hazards - all the ones that can happen in real life, plus some new ones. There are broken hearts. Over a game! Yet some of these relationships turn into real-life romances, and there have been a number of marriages. I've met in person one couple who met in-game and went on to marry - they were, quite visibly, very deeply in love with each other.

Internet friendship is a weird new thing. No, it's not the same as an in-person relationship. It's both less, and more, intimate. People may try to present a false front, of course, of the self they would like to be perceived. But... is that false? Perhaps how you want to be perceived reveals a deeper, more important truth about you than the colour of your hair or the shape of your body, which is what RL first impressions tend to rely on. (Ask any transgender person how misleading physical attributes can be!)

In the end, I think failed relationships still fail for pretty much the same reasons they always did.

I am 72, and most of my girlfriends have been married since their early or mid-twenties because, as they say, that's what you did back then. I must have missed that message because I took a totally different road.

I "hippied" around Europe for about 10 years in my twenties, and my life wasn't any different from what you're writing about, except we didn't have phones or computers to find someone. I didn't settle down until I met my now-deceased husband when I was 50, after several very long relationships.

Whenever I see or hear of people leading what our generation considers a wild or strange lifestyle, I want to tell them to look at totally normal me, as most will turn out completely okay.

Oh, and about music / noise? I don't think Estelle meant to be insulting. Different kinds of music require listening in different ways. If you have no idea what to listen for, your brain can't process it. It seems random. Arbitrary. Meaningless. Quite literally: noise.

That's different from not liking a kind of music. For me, the difference is this: I don't like country/western music, but I can tell what the musicians are trying to do. Heavy metal? Most of the time, I just don't get it at all. When I do imagine I get a glimmer, I'm probably wrong!

A horrible outcome occurred quite recently in Seattle when a woman went out with a man she met on Tinder. On their third date she disappeared. The guy had decapitated her and dumped her head in a recycling bin.

The police caught the guy, but social media was overwhelmed with alarmed comments by women who'd been using Tinder or similar websites.

I'm so fortunate to have met my husband at work. I knew that he was who he said he was.

Thank you Sylvia. Perhaps I should have simply said I don't get it.

What Paula said.

Twelve years ago I walked the halls of my high school with a new teacher half my age. We were on duty three lunch blocks a week, pacing, settling teen tsunamis and getting to know each other.

Call that teacher S.

Thirty year old S told me she was dating a 52 year old man. I just listened. "Guys my age are immature, " she said." The men my friends and I meet, are looking for women who will do all sorts of acrobatic stuff, use your imaginations.

S's female friends were doctors, lawyers, accountants -private school graduates.

Not one of them had a boyfriend.

I didn't know whether to believe S or not. She said her 52 year old boyfriend was stable, dependable, owned a home.

Music?

I am open to music of all eras including some hip hop, as long as the lyrics are clean and tell a good story.

An Afghan student of mine gave me a CD of Afghan music. I blasted that thing in my car, and it weird looks while parking at the mall.

Correction:

I was blasting that Afghan music CD with my car windows down. The sound was fantastic, exotic, wild.

You should have seen the weird looks I got while parking my car at the mall.

Made me laugh.

"Dating." Ugh! It's a work in progress, I guess, for every generation. I live not far from where the young woman was killed by a man she met online. SO scary, but probably no more so than the way some of us met the opposite sex--often in singles bars--when we were younger. I totally agree with those who mentioned economic insecurity, including student debt, as one reason why young people postpone settling down these days. Who can afford both a $2500 mortgage payment and a $1500 student loan payment?! Oops, then there's electricity, water, food and insurance. . .

Although "dating" in our time was perhaps more predictable and certainly more structured, I have no desire to revisit that time. The imbalance of power, often financial, in relationships and the pressure on young women to have an assured "MRS." along with their B.A. (or high school diploma) led to a lot of mistakes = divorces. Today's kids may end up building more stable families when they do commit, but that remains to be seen.

Ronni,

You are quite right about changing one's mind over time. It is possible that I may change my mind. My comment was not a criticism, merely a comment. Dating at this stage is not what I would consider always pleasant, but neither is being without company.

Whoops! Sorry. No patronizing intended! (Too much morning coffee got me a little over-zealous!)

It's hard for me to understand the new dating routine of jumping in bed before you really know the person you will be sharing the most intimate act in a relationship.

It reminded me of the old Andy Griffith humerus album where he did a routine called "Two silhouettes on the shade" (Or something like that). When the two people kissed Andy said, "I bet they ain't even shook hands yet."

A million years ago (or so it seems) the dating advice we got from everyone was to never kiss on the first date. I wonder what those advice givers would think of the new attitude on sex. It's is truly a different world.

I was a virgin when I got married, but that's no credit to me. My mother's sketchy information about sex included information about VD and she made it seem like every guy I dated could infect me. I was not a goody-goody, but a cautious and nervous girl to date. Now I wish I had been born years later so I wouldn't have missed all the fun and would have been a better lover.

As a senior and widower, I would say that i have forgotten the meaning of love, except that for my children.

I even dread a relationship because that would mean receiving inane texts messages early in the morning asking whether I already had breakfast. My instant impulse is to say. "God I have reached this age without missing a breakfast, and here is this broad asking me if I already have one?" Number erased.

I would rather have the fun side, which is called an affair. It's fun and fast and easily forgotten. A few messages over the Net, set a date for coffee and if the blend is good, go out for a spin and a hearty "thank you," afterward.

No commitments, not even asking for a second meeting.

I love the corporate way of getting laid. LOL!

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