The courting culture and rituals are changing quite fast, when viewed in an historical context. The fact is that young people have only been left to find their own mates for a short time - a little over a hundred years - and the consequence of this may still have a long way to go. For this is occurring only in the advance world - the bulk of the people elsewhere still live in a world of arranged marriages, with the women's family providing a dowry, and the whole process is arranged by the parents. Courtship as we know it is nonexistent. We see a re-occurring clash with immigrants from poor parts of the world coming into our society - and their young people wanting to start doing what we do - which may result is serious violence against them - especially to the girls.

A brief history

The work of anthropologists found that simple food-gathering tribes had rigid marriage systems which were similar in different parts of the world. People married according to tribal rules, which generally meant they married a cousin, either from their tribe, or a neighbouring tribe. Occasionally in very lush environments children were left to form their own relationships, and the girl married whoever got her pregnant.

As these blossom into the early Greco-Roman world, successful tribes tended to have captives from wars, and warriors tended to have strict rules on marriage designed to keep the warrior caste pure. Other types of society continue as the food gatherers, or rules may provide that parent arrange marriages. In the Greek City States the concept of love appears among the wealthy.

These states became unified into the Roman world, where marriage was generally arranged by parents. But divorce was easy (at the will of either party), and love affairs occurred, with subsequent marriages for love. No doubt some courting occurred here - but details have not come down to us.

After this the western world sank into the Dark Ages, wealth levels and population fell, and a feudal world ruled by warriors occurred. Divorce became difficult under Christianity, strict rules occurred within the warriors to keep the caste pure, with warrior families providing dowries for their daughters. This meant that people married within their own strata in society, and generally only the eldest son who inherited the land could marry (even for high-ups). Little is really known of the conditions of bulk of the people - the serfs. But as late as 1800 in the UK people could not marry without the permission of their Lord of the Manor - people could only marry if they had enough land to support a family. This tended to be the head of a land holding family (a tenant of the Manor) with a women whose family provided a dowry - the women must bring economic resources into the household (she would take it with her if the marriage ended). People would only live in the family home (no building new ones), and the rule generally was that there would not be more than one married couple in a household. Thus few people had the chance to marry. So Affairs as we know them today were virtually unknown. Extended family living means everyone sleeping round the fire at night (except the head of the family who had a small chamber to sleep with his wife).

Conditions were harsh: no doctors, starvation common in early summer before harvest, poor housing. Life expectancy was short. In some environments the death rates for the sexes were very different - so some sexes might expect to marry a number of times. In Britain death rates from child-birth were very high. In mountainous regions men's death rates were very high - it is only from this type of environment that there is any historical knowledge of how the common people lived. There was a glimmer of friendship between couples out on the mountains - but that was as far as it could go. High ups (lords and priests) could have any lower class women they wanted, including married ones. Aristocratic women were known to take a fancy to peasant men (especially priests). But otherwise conditions were too harsh for much chance or opportunity for canoodling.

That is the sort of society we have arisen from not long ago. The Industrial Revolution from 1750 paved the way for the wealthy society we have today. Towards the end of the 1800s the grip of parents on their children weakened. It depended where in society you were - if you could move off the land to a new factory - which might also have provided housing - you had enough resources to provide for a family. You were free of your parents - especially as girls were working as well (only upper crust women did not work - peasant and working class women worked through out history).

Thus we can see that people being left to find their own mates is very short in historical terms. We have seen from the syndromes that our minds have substantial programming. People have been left to find their own mates without any education, with their minds programmed largely from a bygone evolution. Added to this the culture of the society was strictly moral. A girl conceiving out of wedlock was a virtual social outcast (the church often stepped in and dealt with the matter cruelly - her child was generally taken away from her) - the girl would often marry the guy. This had a large influence on the way courting rituals evolved - literally from scratch.

This is how courtship evolved

It does not mean that the current courtship is the end of the evolution. Clearly a trend is occurring now to remove the influence of the legal system - people (certainly men) want too arrange these affairs without the influence of men in wigs and gowns. There is the possibility of the marriage rite going to extinction - with a more fluid system taking its place - with little data collected.

Man is one of the small group of creatures who forms mating pairs. We must expect special programming in the minds of these creatures to bring this about. While our second study will attempt to find out about this, currently there is no information available to mankind. While for most of man's known history the rules of the tribe or society have arranged the selection of mates, suddenly he has been left to his own devices to do this himself - without any education, advice or knowledge of how to do it. We might suppose that his inexperience has resulted in man not making good choices, with the result that he often ditches his mate and starts again. The longer courting chains are a manifestation of people's experimenting in the hope of finding your life long mate. Will this eventually occur? So far the data does not support this - but we have no data on how long partners stay together.

Ease of meeting

In some respects things have got easier, in others they have got more difficult. Before WWII a girl of standing would have expected to be introduced before dialogue was opened with a man. This system was still largely operated by parents and family - in an attempt to control who their girls met. It severely restricted who might meet who, but nevertheless provided a framework in which the early difficult steps up the Catastrophe surface could be taken.

This system has largely been swept away by the practical fact that most young girls have jobs - which takes them out of their parents' environment and makes them independent of it. Girls want to find their own way around.

This has the disadvantage that the ready made framework for meeting people may be absent; and many may find that meeting new partners and climbing the Catastrophe surface unaided is more difficult today. This maybe compensated partly by the fact that someone may go out with partners from much wider backgrounds than before; and that girls nowadays will commonly take the initiative in the first initial steps - eye interaction, smiles, perhaps opening conversation (but not as yet offer a date).

Dances - Discos

This is an interesting example of where the meeting of couples has certainly got harder.

In the traditional ballroom dance, the man asks the girl to dance, while they are dancing they could talk and get to know each other, if they get on well they could dance some more, and so on.

The forces or fears operating to keep the sexes apart were always very clear. Early in the dance the sexes would be in clearly separate groups. As the evening wore on, aided by the depressant effect of alcohol, more men would take the plunge. There is clearly a strong reluctance to engage in conversation with someone of the opposite sex that they don't know, even if they are attracted to them. But by the end of the evening most would have got off with a partner, so far as the equality of numbers allowed.

In a modern disco one will see the same thing at the beginning - but not a very different situation at the end - with a majority of unattached couples still unattached. True, some couples will get off with each other, but they probably will not form a majority - and you will probably find that most of those already knew each other even if slightly, or came with the same party. If a man asks a girl to dance she will almost always refuse if she does not know him; she will refuse even if she has been giving him the eye.

The explanation for this behaviour is simple. We have seen under the Catastrophe Model that girls want to talk to a man and get to know him before going out with him. True, a dance is not a date, but it is an overtly sexual contact. In the disco the music is so loud to preclude conversation; nor are there many interludes between tunes as in old style dances - so there is little opportunity for the girl to get to know the man.

The ritual of the disco has got more complex. Before a girl will dance with a man, he must go up to her off the dance floor and talk to her. Since people find it difficult to strike up conversation with a stranger (not to mention the loud music even if its softer off the dance floor) a large number of men never take the plunge. Girls will sometimes take the initiative with men who attract them by looking at them - in the hope that they will come and talk to them. Whether she can handle it if he does so is doubtful - the disco environment seems to turn most girls into Scared Girls especially if they are attracted to the man.

People find it easier to make conversation if they are also doing something else - as in a traditional dance. People also find it easier if they are part of a group: girls go to discos in pairs or larger groups, so men often do likewise. Two men will find it a lot easier to strike up conversation with two girls - and will find the girls positively keen to talk to them. If the foursome get on then they may dance together, possibly separating into couples.

Since girls dance together in groups, groups of men can join them. But the girls are much less likely to continue dancing after that tune has finished.

If it is so much harder to get off with someone at a disco, why are they so popular? Perhaps because of the fact that one will not look out of place if one does not take the plunge. Perhaps girls like it because they can dance with their girl companions, and won't be left to look like a wallflower if they don't get off with a man.

If these rituals seem altogether too complex, there is still ballroom dancing, where they are still much simpler - but fewer take part - mainly in dancing classes.

What has happened to make the modern disco pretty ineffective for couples to get together? Up to WW2 and The Pill old style Ballroom Dances were held for different strata of society: the village hall or public ballrooms in towns, the Manor House, Stately Houses, Coming Out Balls at Court, Schools held them for like schools, Universities held them weekly for their students and neighbouring colleges. Who ever you were, you had the chance to get off through ballrooms.

The history of these dances is the key. They started among aristocrats in pre-1800s. These are people who knew each other - the man would hold the girl for the duration of the dance - the steps were designed for this. It was pretty revolutionary, violating the Degree of Intimacy in the All or Nothing Syndrome which we have considered - but the people knew each other and it caught on.

Then we got the middle classes copying the aristocrats - and ballroom dances spread as above. But the notion of a girl being held by a man she did not know is contrary to the Degree of Intimacy. What we have seen from about the Pill period above is girls over-throwing this violation - leading to discos (where couples do not dance in contact) taking over from ballrooms - and girls not dancing at all with men they do not know. While we have seen that the early stages of relationship forming have speeded up considerably (largely due to the Pill), the initial stages have become far stricter. One can understand from the Degree of Intimacy why this has happened - but ironically it results in destroying the means by which guys and girls often got together.

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