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Early Dating Rituals in Filter Theory Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 24th, 2020

Dating denotes a phase in life where two people, mostly of the opposite sex, meet with the view of establishing a passionate or sexual link. The issue of dating has been evolving with time. For instance, in the 1950-1960s, dating was done modestly where people had to meet physically to begin a relationship. No cell phones and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram were available for use as a basis for establishing dating, as it is witnessed today where people are embracing online dating (Massa, 2013). Dating rituals controlled how men handled women during the courtship period whose focus was on marriage. Men and women of those days observed the dating rituals. Dating mostly happened in places such as soda fountains and jukeboxes. Today, dating has taken a different dimension where everyone across the world is socially connected. This paper deploys the Filter Theory to discuss the early dating rituals, including their merits and demerits. It also compares the early dating customs with the current dating civilization.

Advantages of Early Dating Rituals

Until the early 1970s, the issue of dating depicted a stringent and gendered code of manners (Casa, 2016). Males were bestowed with the responsibility of initiating dates. They were also expected to pay for all dating expenses (Brian, 2017). On the other hand, females held on until the relevant partner came to request a date out. Early dating rituals emphasized the issue of manners. In the 1950s and 1960s, good manners were an advantage to society since it promoted acceptable morals among the dating partners. During those days, it was unacceptable to burden a woman with the task of pushing a man to start date. In other words, the man received his due recognition as the potential head of a family (Casa, 2016). Besides, a woman would never turn down a date without a tangible reason. She could even introduce her partner to her parents, a move that promoted trust and respect to parents. The male partner would enquire from the female’s parents about the suitability of him starting a date with their daughter. The goal was to avoid provoking the in-laws-to-be, especially when they realize that the man had been having a date with their child without their awareness. Having such well-founded behaviors among dating partners was again to society since the parties could develop into responsible future parents (Casa, 2016).

According to Hancock (2016), being steady was a crucial point for dating partners in traditional society. At this stage, partners would affirm their relation open to the community. For example, a woman would wear a man’s jacket as a way of declaring the parties’ intentions clearly and that their engagement was destined towards marriage. Besides promoting sincerity and faithfulness, this 1950s and 1960s step encouraged transparency among the potential partners. It also paved a way for the partners to save for their future, a move that helped in building a stable family.

Disadvantages of Early Dating Rituals

As much as the 1950s and 1960s rituals resulted in responsible and stable families, they had their drawbacks. For instance, courtship in the 1960s took another turn from normal dating to hookup, which became the norm of the time whereby parties could meet and engage in the behaviors of married people without taking the necessary time to know each other before commencing pre-marital sex. Hence, the 1950s and 1960s marked the advent of birth pills that indicated extramarital affairs and consequently unplanned births. During this period, the issue of many young college students partying, drinking alcohol, and using drugs began gradually during the earlier dating moments of the 1950s and 1960s.

Moreover, during the 1950s and 1960s, dating in the traditional society resulted in many early marriages due to quick courtship and the uncontrollable desire for sex among the respective parties. However, in the 1950s and 1960s people were not supposed to go against the societal rule of ‘no sex before marriage’ to avoid being labeled a castaway. Consequently, any violation led to the man and woman being declared husband and wife, regardless of whether they were ready for it or not. Besides, early marriages resulted from the fact that dating individuals were not allowed to break up once they had started a relationship. As a result, young men became dependent upon without full growth, hence leading to another burden in the society of the 1950s and 1960s. This situation posed a risk to the dating behavior of the next generation.

How Social Factors affected the 1950s-1960s Dating Experience

Dating in the 1950s-1960s faced challenges, which were much contributed by social factors such as the parties’ financial capacity, sexual orientation, religion, proximity, and family background. Dating in traditional society was under the control of young men who were responsible for paying all the bills (Brian, 2017). As such, a woman would choose a man who would not struggle financially to settle the required dating, dowry, and other expenses that come with marriage. During the early days, the role of a woman in the economic perspective was not accepted in society. No woman was allowed to earn if her husband was employed. This situation had its origin in the dating process where the man was mandated by taking care of all the bills. For example, in the US, schools refused to hire women if they were married. Consequently, they were fired if they got married during their employment period.

The race also affected dating during the 1950s-1960s. Young men and women opted to date people from their race. Before the Civil War, division among people erupted, thus affecting social connectivity that existed between men and women. This situation led to race-based issues that trickled down to the dating process. Whites could not date Blacks and vice versa. For example, the US had a law barring intermarriage between Whites and Blacks. Race determined an individual’s dating choice in the 1950s and 1960s. The Americans approved the “one-drop rule”, which stated that any American with more than a single drop of non-White blood would never be regarded as a white person in the nation. Hence, dating was only limited to individuals of the same racial setting.

In terms of sexual orientation, a study by Clemens (2015) reveals that men are more likely to initiate a dating process relative to women. The finding concerning the challenges that homosexuals face to the extent of pushing them to use online platforms to interact with prospective dating partners without having to meet them physically (not to suffer discrimination and stigmatization) is indicative of how the particular group went through unfathomable difficulties in the traditional society that could not enjoy such technology (Clemens, 2015). The finding is also illustrative of the difficulties that lesbians and gay people encountered in the 1950s and 1960s dating. It is possible that sexual orientation in the early days forced some people to plan night dates where they could meet in isolated places for fear of stigmatization.

Filter Theory and Dating

Filter Theory is a sociological presumption, which states that social construction dictates the number of individuals who qualify to be selected for companionship (Shecter, 2014). The theory reveals how people pursue to date and/or marry only those who share similar traits such as age, faith, financial strength, and ethnicity among other aspects. In other words, the theory upholds the concept of homogamy where individuals get attracted to their “similarly-treated” colleagues. As the theory explains, people will always select companions who think correspondingly or those in the same social class while shunning from those who have different thoughts, wealth levels, and education, to name a few. The filtration process reduces the pool of potential partners to a small number of like-minded entrants (Shecter, 2014). However, it is crucial to point out that the Filter Theory has not worked well for a few who end up marrying the wrong characters who happen to hide their real status during dating. This situation can hurt the Filter Theory, leading to hypergamy or hypogamy. In the former, the mandates a woman from a not-well-to-do family. The latter case involves the woman being from a superior background. However, many dating parties fall within the confines of the Filter Theory. According to Toma (2015), such similarity masks the parties’ underlying differences, thus enhancing their interaction levels.

Comparison between the Early and Current Dating Rituals

As Massa (2013) observes, the rules of dating are changing from one generation to another. In the recent past, it was rare to find young people of the opposite sex talking to one another unless they were officially introduced to their parents. Nowadays, this situation does not hold since many contemporary dating parties embrace the social exchange theory, which takes into account the losses and gains that an individual expects in a relationship, including the input that is required of him or her. This observation is contrary to the 1950s and 1960s dating processes where only the man was required to finance and/or be responsible for the dating and the anticipated marriage. The early dating rituals involved no social network connectivity across the world compared to today where almost every young person is connected to a social network. As such, while online dating never existed in traditional society, some contemporary people end up marrying persons who they met and dated online (Massa, 2013). Traditionally, one could not date a person who was engaged in his or her friend. However, in modern society, this rule has been ignored.

Contemporary young adults have become more sexually active with nothing to scare them since birth pills are readily available at an affordable cost. Students have developed a habit of having sex outside committed relations (Massa, 2013). Such affairs take place during dating. Besides, many dating parties lack agenda or goals such as marriage, as witnessed in the 1950s and 1960s. As earlier stated, they have acquired a culture of sex before marriage, thus discarding and forgetting the early morals expected of dating or married parties. Contemporary women are fighting to have their presence felt in society by claiming their sexual feeling equality with men. This parity has created a society that values sex compared to the previous one of the 1950s and 1960s (Massa, 2013). This situation has steered the loss of good morals in the society and community. Therefore, at this time, dating is characterized by youths who have become sexually addicted and drug abusers. Such drugs are freely made available to many contemporary young people who have lost the ground for a better culture.

During the early days, dating parties had an ultimate goal of getting married, as opposed to the current situation where dating is not a guarantee that people will end up as a husband and wife. During the old days, mate-selection methods could not allow marriages between minors. However, with the emergence of child bribes, it is estimated that an excess of 25,000 females are forcibly introduced to matrimonial affairs with old men each day at a tender age where many are as young as 10 years old (Rafizadeh, 2015). In modern society, people can unsuccessfully date for a long period. When age catches up with them, they end up in arranged marriages where one party is introduced to the other by either a relative or a friend as a husband or wife.


The goal of dating entails evaluating the other person’s appropriateness as a potential equal in a more devoted and cherished affiliation or matrimony. As the paper has revealed, while the Filter Theory played a key role in the 1950s and 1960s dating, especially in determining the appropriate partner, the current situation seems to be in line with the stipulations of the social exchange theory where parties must be ready to give and take during the dating or marriage session. Hence, a comparison of the early and current dating rituals reveals significant differences, some of which have been fueled by the advancement of technology around the world.


Brian, M. (2017). . Web.

Casa, B. (2016). . Web.

Clemens, C. (2015). . Web.

Hancock, P. (2016). A Christmas carol: A reflection on organization, society, and the socioeconomics of the festive season. Academy of Management Review, 41(4), 755-765.

Massa, J. (2013). . CNN. Web.

Rafizadeh, M. (2015). . Web.

Shecter, K. (2014). Web.

Toma, C. (2015). The couple who Facebooks together stays together: Facebook self-presentation and relationship longevity among college-aged dating couples. CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 18(7), 367-372.

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