A Feature, Not A Bug

Over at the Femininity building blog Girls Being Girls, Jenny laments how There’s No Character In The Dating Scene Anymore:

Character isn’t very important in our dating scene anymore. It used to be you would know the girls a guy dated before he approached you. You would hear the stories of how he treated them. You would know if he’s worked since he was ten or if he plays basketball for hours every day after school. Our dating market has somehow managed to isolate dating from character.

Jenny may not have realized it, but she has hit on something of considerable significance. To use software engineer’s parlance, what she has discovered is a feature, not a bug. Only instead of being an excuse, this really is a feature. The “dating market” replaced the “marriage market” in large part so this very phenomenon could take place.

You see, under a courtship system or market there was a certain amount of knowledge that was known and expected about everyone involved. A man wouldn’t have found it easy to court a woman as an unknown factor- her family wouldn’t have tolerated it. Instead, he had to introduce himself, to build history and rapport with her family or be backed up by trusted individuals who vouched for him. Or even better, he was a known factor because he grew up in the same community and his history was known to all involved. On the flip side, a man who courted a woman would also have access to a lot of information about her. Perhaps he grew up with her in the same community. If not, he could observe her family and talk with them. In addition, he could talk with members of the community who knew her well.

The point being that under a courtship model no one could really be an unknown. Everyone had history. Which leads to this statement by Jenny:

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior

She is absolutely correct in this. Past behavior does give us a strong idea on what someone will do in the future. And that was a problem for a lot of people. For some their past behavior haunted them and acted as a huge handicap in the courtship/marriage market. For others it served as an obstacle, limiting what they could get away with. Yet others disliked marriage in general. All of them worked together to undermine the courtship model and to bring about something altogether new: The “dating scene”, which is in reality a sexual marketplace (“SMP”), because sex, not marriage, is the main goal now of most of its members. This new SMP has as its cornerstones mobility (provided through changes to the economy as well as new technology) and a lack of connectivity and history, which might perhaps be labeled “system memory.”

The first cornerstone, mobility, is all about the ability to move about to new locations, to new “markets.” If one particular area dries up, or you build a bad reputation there, you can always move to a new, fresh location.  In other words, you can escape your past behavior.

The second cornerstone, a lack of history and connectivity, means that most people in the dating scene don’t really know each other. Perhaps they have some similar friends or connections (otherwise how would they meet?), but those connections are far more tenuous than they would have been in the past. Outside of these potential sparse connections, those in the dating scene have little in the way of methods to learn about someone, apart from what that person reveals themselves.

Taken together, these two core components of the “dating scene” mean that you can always “start over.” This is especially easy if you are wise enough to avoid social media, and not let yourself build up an online presence (ironically the internet and social media in particular undermine this new system, hence the push to allow people to erase their internet history). Just move to a new location and you can begin anew. It is the perfect system for cads and harlots to ply their trade and largely escape the consequences of it.

This didn’t all happen overnight though. It took time for the SMP to replace the Marriage Marketplace. But as Jenny has  realized, that transformation is now complete. What little bit was left of the old courtship or marriage market is now gone. All that remains is “dating”, with all of its ugliness still intact. Again, this was not accident. It didn’t “just happen.” Isolating “dating from character” is the whole point of dating in the first place. If character still really mattered we wouldn’t even be talking about dating, we would be talking about courting. Boyfriend and Girlfriend wouldn’t exist as words, instead we would still use suitor. If you are lamenting how the “dating scene” looks now, understand this: what you are seeing now is not failure. It is success.

[Cross-posted at The Courtship Pledge]

Recommended Reading:

The Boyfriend Invention



Filed under Christianity, Churchianity, Courtship, God, Marriage, Moral Agency, Red Pill, Sex, Sexual Market Place, Sin

11 responses to “A Feature, Not A Bug

  1. Interesting, you took this idea to a whole new level. Thank you!

  2. James and the Giant Peach

    I sometimes hear women talking about they can’t know if their current boyfriend wants a relationship/marriage or sex. That’s one of the points of courtship. A player who wants to sow his seed wide and far isn’t going to wait that long through the process (1 month-6month+)of courtship with no sex.

    I also hear men saying that they didn’t know a woman acted like this or that way, or didn’t know she was crazy, or other than sex, she has no redeeming qualities. Well once again with courtship, you see her for what she is. She can’t just seduce you with physical intimacy, covering up her lack of character, personality, faith, etc.

    Courtship removed sex, but the benefit is that it required a man to actually show his commitment and also required the women put in effort to entertain her man with other measures, showing her true self. Crazy stuff!

  3. A Visitor

    The description you give Donal is dead on. Unfortunately, I fear many prefer our current system, as twisted as it is. They’d rather go with society than buck the trend for something better. If I get married, I know how my children will find their future spouses.

  4. @ James

    Great comment.

    Also, to expand a bit on what I talked about in the OP…

    The courtship system/model was about providing security and stability. While it limited options, it also protected those who operated within its boundaries. It wasn’t perfect, but it did help to screen out a lot of bad choices. That security blanket is gone now, and most young adults are basically being thrown to the wolves in the present system. Which again was the goal- the predators out there, the “wolves”, convinced the sheep to leave their enclosure. And the sheep went right along with it. This post by SSM is takes that on in further detail:


  5. Modern men and women have no patience to find character.

    Character speaks softly and over time. Not that one with character speaks softly, but that the quality of having character is never immediately apparent. It is something that shows itself slowly, quietly, as one demonstrates the ability to live the life one preaches. It is having God on the mind, in the heart, on the lips, and grasped within your hands.

    Women don’t have the patience to see such character; they’re too busy discovering themselves. Men don’t have the ability to demonstrate such character, as their Fathers bought into the lie that character was deemed unnecessary. Technology, faith, and freedom will save all, dontcha know.

    Two St Augustine Quotes:

    “People travel to wonder
    at the height of the mountains,
    at the huge waves of the seas,
    at the long course of the rivers,
    at the vast compass of the ocean,
    at the circular motion of the stars,
    and yet they pass by themselves
    without wondering. ”

    “In order to discover the character of people we have only to observe what they love.”

    I will simply add that what you search for is what you love. You seek to know it better, to understand it’s mysteries. The mysteries of the self are simple – Original Sin. The mysteries of God, and of how to love God through others (most notably a spouse and family), are breath taking and worth a life time of search.

    Courtship is the formation of a system to begin such a search through marriage. Not perfect, as we humans are not perfect, but it points towards the path to perfection if only you’re willing to honestly make the journey.

  6. Right after writing this, I did some daily reading and am in Sirach:

    “A woman will accept any man,
    but one daughter is better than another.
    A woman’s beauty gladdens the countenance,
    and surpasses every human desire.
    If kindness and humility make her speech,
    her husband is not like other men.
    He who acquires a wife gets his best possession,
    a helper fit for him and a pillar of support.
    Where there is no fence, the property will be plundered;
    and where there is no wife, a man will wander about and sigh.
    For who will trust a nimble robber
    that skips from city to city?
    So who will trust a man that has no home,
    and lodges wherever night finds him?”
    – Sirach 36:21-26

    We need to teach women such kindness and humility, stop putting trust to those men whom display themselves to be nimble robbers, and re-kindle a foundation in the virtues.

  7. mdavid

    Chad, Courtship is the formation of a system to begin such a search through marriage. Not perfect, as we humans are not perfect, but it points towards the path to perfection if only you’re willing to honestly make the journey.

    Thanks for this excellent comment.

  8. You’re welcome David. I’m glad you find it satisfying – it’s a hard road to travel and we must always help pull each other towards Christ. Finding a spouse is probably the most difficult, and important, part of that journey. It’s always good to hear other men support an idea and way of doing just that.

  9. Following my first foray into the dating market two months ago, I’ve only realized how out-of-step my values are with those of my contemporaries. Essentially, I treated dating with the intent of evaluating my partner for her marriage potential; not the goal of a sexual encounter. It was rather shocking to me when I learned of her frustration at my slow pace, which I conducted out of respect for us both. Thankfully after a month we ended it mutually. Yet subsequent events with other women have only further revealed how alien, and disgusting, this “dating scene” is to me. Those whose intention is to find a respectable Christian for marriage are in quite a predicament in modern America.

  10. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2013/07/23 | Free Northerner

  11. @ returnedtorome

    Those whose intention is to find a respectable Christian for marriage are in quite a predicament in modern America.

    It could be worse. At least you don’t have to find a respectable atheist for marriage.

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