“This our first date isn’t it?” My boyfriend asks while sat in a restaurant. Nothing unusual, if we weren't a whole three months into our relationship. As I think about it for a bit, I suddenly realise that even when we were ‘seeing’ each other we never went on a date in the traditional sense. It seems this is not a rare occurrence either; 21st century relationships are taking very different forms and unfortunately, the patterns emerging point towards the death of the date.
Long gone are the days of getting to know your potential other half over a meal or a drink and pondering the timing of that coveted first kiss. The nervousness of waiting for him or her to call you back afterwards and arrange for a follow-up date, the excitement when you turn up and see your date already waiting for you with a smile on their face... Is this all history?
Instead, making out with strangers in decrepit clubs - and sometimes waking up with them the following morning - is now accepted as part of our relationship culture. The aim of a night out has become seeking out the affections of a stranger rather than dancing until the early hours with friends. For those hoping to see a relationship at the end of it, this hardly inspires romance and passion now, does it?
While we can criticise the ways and means, it has to be accepted that relationship dynamics are changing with the influence of communication technology. It is now possible for us to stay constantly in touch and this has increased the speed at which relationships develop. Most young adults in relationships will recall the early days spent racking up ridiculous phone bills and endless text conversations. This has long since taken over from traditional dating in terms of letting relationships flourish. Part of the problem stems from the rise of social media. The internet is proving to be an arena for fledgling couples to meet and flirt. It seems we prefer staying up until the early hours on Facebook chat to the traditional drink at the pub or romantic walk in the park. It could be argued that this is dating for the 21st century but personally, I simply don’t think virtual forms of communication can match up to the face-to-face conversations.
Dating is not only for 'new' couples, being in a long-term relationship does not mean the dating has to stop. In fact, it is one of the best ways to keep the relationship alive. Unfortunately, money can also deter couples from dating. For students, a meal at a restaurant and a night at the cinema can easily blow the weekly budget.
However, this doesn't mean one should forego dating altogether. All you need to do is get a bit creative. Here in Sheffield, we have the Peak District right on our doorstep. You can go walking, explore one of the picturesque little villages or simply sit and enjoy the stunning view along with your loved one. No money to take your partner out to dinner? Now that it's getting warmer outside, you could set up a picnic in the park or even your back yard and serve a variety of homemade snacks. Just add candles and a bottle of wine and you've got your romantic evening sorted... You may even got bonus points for creativity. Cinema nights run by the Film Unit are priced at £2.50 a ticket, which is considerably cheaper than any cinema in town. You even get a voucher that can be spent on food and drinks at the Interval cafe.
As students, we are used to having a good time while spending as little money as possible. If this applies to nights out, surely it can be applied to dating as well.
It pains me to speak ill of the most treasured of Sheffield institutions but perhaps it’s time we got out of Corp on a Wednesday evening, stopped locking faces with strangers and revived the institution of dating before it fades away completely. This is not to say that 21st century perks to dating should not be embraced. It is a wonderful thing that the Internet has brought together people that would have never previously crossed paths. But for new and old couples alike, dating is a fantastic way to liven up your relationship.