From Assortative Mating to Self-Expression: The Evolution of Dating

Imagine this: 300,000 years ago, there were no fancy first dates or elaborate courtship rituals. Dating, as we know it, simply didn’t exist. Survival and procreation were the main drivers behind who you ended up with. This concept, called assortative mating, meant finding someone similar to yourself – someone who looked similar and behaved in familiar ways.

Fast forward to the 1800s. This era, dubbed the pragmatic phase by relationship researcher Eli Finkel, saw partnerships formed for practicality. Marriage was a strategic decision, ensuring survival and the continuation of the family line. Think arranged marriages and practical considerations like land ownership.

The romantic period, blooming between the 1800s and the 1960s, marked a shift. The industrial revolution ushered in nuclear families, leaving individuals feeling isolated. Partners began to fill a new role – that of a companion. Friendship and emotional connection became important in relationships, but the idea of a partner fulfilling all your needs hadn’t quite arrived yet.

The Age of Self-Expression: Enter the 1960s and a whole new ballgame. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs helps us understand this shift. We’ve climbed the pyramid, with basic necessities met, and now yearn for self-actualization – to become our best selves. This naturally influences our partner preferences.

Dating in the Age of Self-Expression

Today’s dating landscape is complex. We seek a partner who not only complements us but also supports our personal growth. We no longer just need someone to procreate or provide financial security. We crave a partner who helps us flourish.

Gone are the days when a partner simply had to be a good provider or a reliable sex partner. Now, we want someone who encourages our individuality and helps us reach our full potential.

The Challenge and the Opportunity

This evolution of dating has undoubtedly made it more complicated. Expectations are higher, and finding someone who aligns with our need for self-expression can be challenging. However, this also presents an opportunity for deeper, more fulfilling connections.

Cerys Can Help

At Cerys, we understand the complexities of modern dating. We provide tools and resources to help you navigate this journey of self-discovery and find a partner who supports your growth and flourishing. Together, we can create a foundation for a truly fulfilling and lasting relationship.