With the advent of dating came the emphasis on falling in love rather than seeking a society-approved mate. Previously, love was not regarded as being important to a marriage, and if it did develop, it would do so only after the wedding had already taken place.
Love is an important factor in marrying someone, because you want to love them. If you don't love them, why marry them? It's simple: because society expects you to!
The way people have married over time tells us something about their priorities. In earlier times, when there was no such thing as a stable economy or government services, people needed to find a suitable partner quickly before they were forced to fight each other for food and shelter. Under these conditions, marriages were usually very short - often just enough time for someone to produce an offspring.
As soon as families could afford it, people started looking longer-term. This is probably because they could now wait until they found someone who fulfilled their needs, instead of just trying to survive first.
Over time, people have gotten more comfortable with long-distance relationships and marriages built on passion rather than need. These days, many people choose to date while waiting for the right person to come along.
The notion of dating truly took off at the start of the twentieth century. Prior to the late 1800s, courting was a considerably more private and unemotional experience. Men would send flowers to their loves on Valentine's Day or write them letters full of romantic words before sending them off to their destinations.
The beginning of the end for this old-fashioned practice came when courtship was popularized by authors like Matthew Arnold who believed that dating was too intimate for men and women of different classes. They felt that if they were to marry each other, it should be for love rather than money or position. These ideas began to spread throughout Europe and then America where they transformed how young people interacted with each other.
Today, most people think of dating as two people who are in a relationship where they have a mutual attraction and decide to see what happens from there. However, back in the early days of marriage, this was not always the case. If two people were not attracted to one another, they would just move on to the next match or accept that they were never going to find love. This could cause many problems such as depression or even suicide.
People started marrying later in life back then, so there were not many 20-30 year olds running around looking for spouses.
Dating is now a thing. Shutterstock The notion of dating truly took off at the start of the twentieth century. Daters would pass notes back and forth, but that was about it. In their book Why Dating Is Important: Understanding Intimate Relationships, Dr. Roy Baumeister and Dr. John Tierney write that before the twentieth century, courtship "was largely a social exercise in which men tried to impress women with their wealth or status."
The first dating services came on the market around 1930. They were called matchmakers. People would go to these matchmakers to find dates for weddings or other social events. Today, we use the term "dating site" instead, but that's basically the same idea. Matchmakers would look through their rosters of suitable couples and connect those together who were interested in each other. This is how they found matches between people who were socially isolated due to living in different parts of the country or even world.
It wasn't until the late 1950s that dating as we know it today became popular. Up until then, people just got married. There was no such thing as a free date. If you wanted to see someone again you had to pay for another night at the hotel or dinner and a movie.