This just in: There are some seriously creepy dating traditions in Western society (and undoubtedly other societies, too, but I'm sticking to what I know here). Although dating in the modern sense — the "dinner and a movie prior to making out in the back of someone's car" way of doing things — has only been around for a few decades, plenty of conventions have sprung up around romance, and like most traditions, they're a mix of the good, the bad, and the strange.
Let's start with the good. Dating is fun! You get to meet someone interesting, have interesting conversations, and possibly end the night with making out (more or less, depending on how much you like them). As always, though, the good is accompanied by the bad: Many dating and marriage traditions reinforce heternormativity and patriarchal gender roles, and they can play a role in perpetuating rape culture. Besides, a bad date can be downright excruciating.
And then there's the weird — the stuff that's just kind of strange when you think about it. To be honest, there are a number of societal traditions that fit into this particular category, but enumerating all the ways societal norms can get weird would take an eternity. So today, let's focus on romance. Here are five dating traditions that seem normal at first but are guaranteed to make you raise an eyebrow when you think about them.
1. Social Media Stalking
Immediately after someone asks you on a date (or after the first date, if you have enough self-control to wait that long), it’s pretty much par for the course to end up hundreds of posts deep into someone’s Instagram, palms sweaty with the fear that you’ll accidentally like a photo from 2009. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a little creepy to peruse someone’s life history when you barely know them.
That being said, I’m certainly not stopping anytime soon, and chances are your dates thoroughly stalk your social media profiles too. Let’s just agree we’re all creepers and move on.
2. The “Daddy With A Shotgun” Trope
It’s been said before, and it’ll be said again, but until it goes away, this bears repeating: The stereotype of an overprotective father warding off his daughter’s suitors with a shotgun is creepy AF. It places her father squarely in charge of her romantic life, completely discounting her own agency in the matter, and it often implies that her virtue needs to be “protected” from potential partners. Yikes.
3. Dating People Like Ourselves
According to research, the common wisdom that “opposites attract” is actually totally off the mark; rather, studies show that we’re attracted to people like ourselves. It’s cute to see couples talk and dress alike, but when you think about it, it’s also weirdly narcissistic. Of course, I say that as a blue-eyed redhead who’s dating a green-eyed redhead, so, like, I’m absolutely participating in the practice here. My advice? Just try not to think about it.
4. Playing Hard To Get
Playing hard to get is one of the oldest rules in the dating handbook: According to the heteronormative version, the woman is supposed to avoid showing interest and let the man win her over. I’m the first to agree that flirting is super fun as long as you’re both into it, and nobody wants to show too much interest, but the concept of the romantic chase has some weird implications for consent. Encouraging women to show disinterest until they finally “yield” just reinforces the idea that persistence is more important than consent — and that’s not just creepy, it’s dangerous.
Someone had to say it: Kissing is so weird. What is it that makes smushing our faces together so darn appealing? Unfortunately, it only gets weirder when you look into the science behind making out. According to one theory, the practice evolved from primate mothers passing chewed food into their babies’ mouths, and most scientists believe that since then, it’s evolved as a way to assess potential compatibility with a partner. By tasting their saliva. Remind me why we do this again?
Right, that's why.
Images: Splitshire.com/Pexels; Giphy (5)