It can be funny — if a bit unnerving — to reflect on just how creepy dating was in the '90s. Sure, many of us who were dating in the '90s were just coming of age and still learning how to be comfortable with ourselves, much less comfortable on a date with someone we liked. But while it's ultimately mostly harmless, this uncertainty and lack of experience certainly led to a lot of dating trends that I now look back on and see as pretty darn creepy. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.
It's probably fair to say that a lot about dating has changed since the '90s, both with regards to ourselves (I'm hoping we've all matured at least a little since the '90s, right?) and with regards to the world around us. For example, I personally think the advances and changes we've had in our technology has made a huge impact on the way we dated in the '90s versus the way we date now. While things like texting, becoming "Facebook official," and even meeting people on dating apps and websites is definitely the norm right now, back in the '90s, those things were far rarer — and sometimes even downright impossible, especially if you were a kid or teenager at the time. So, we had to resort to some pretty desperate (and, subsequently, creepy) measures to get a little closer to our crushes in the '90s.
1. Repeatedly Calling And Hanging Up The Phone
Ah, the time of landline phones and everyone in the family sharing the same phone number. What was more awkward than calling your crush, only to have one of their parents answer? Nothing. Of course, you could have done the socially acceptable thing and simply left your name and a message, but somehow it felt way easier to simply hang up the phone and cover your face in shame.
2. Driving By Their House At Random Intervals
This was definitely something you and your friends did together after school and on weekends, especially if only one of you had a car. What would be better than casually running into your crush while driving down their street? Of course, "casual" probably doesn't mean "driving by multiple times a day trying to figure out if they're actually home or not," but, well... yeah. Creepy.
3. Calling From A Blocked Phone Number
Let's be honest: Who hasn't called their crush from a blocked number in an attempt to figure out if they're home or not? You absolutely could have just called from your regular number (also increasing the chance they'd, you know, call you back), but somehow, it felt much less nerve-wracking to call your crush's house when you knew your number was disguised. I can only imagine how many parents thought they were being harassed by a scammer after they saw 20 calls from a "blocked" number on their Caller ID.
4. Leaving Cryptic Away Messages on AIM
Remember when the best way to talk to your crush was by chatting with them on AIM? Yeah, those were the glory days. Of course, if you wanted to see if your crush was thinking about you, you left some kind of cryptic, intriguing "away message" intended to pique their interest — usually a song lyric from whatever ballad was popular on the radio at the time. Whether or not they got the message, though? Well, that remains to be seen even now.
5. Hovering Around When Their After-School Practices And Rehearsals Ended
If you went to school with your crush, I'm willing to bet you tried to strategically hover around until their sports practice or rehearsal was over for the day, hoping to "run into them" and start a conversation. Subtle, right?
6. Asking Their Friends Everything About Them
Was there a greater moment of relief than realizing you had a friend in common with your crush? The '90s was a time before most of us had an online footprint, so you couldn't conveniently type someone's name into Facebook or LinkedIn to get the run-down on them. This meant that if you didn't want to talk to them yourself, you had to get your information from a trusted, inner source: A friend you made at camp, your neighbor, or — if you were truly shameless — your cousin.
7. Befriending Their Parents
What was better than having your crush's parents absolutely adore you and then want to invite you over their house all the time? Nothing. After all, it wasn't your fault you were so likable, polite, and such an all-around good cookie that you became their parents' friend all on your own, right?
8. Trying To Organize Your Schedule So You Could Give Them Rides Everywhere
If you were able to drive in the '90s, this was definitely a popular one: Why not simply offer to give your crush a ride, and have some one-on-one time to chat? This only geared into creepy territory when you planned your time and schedule around their availability, hoping to earn more time with them. Things working out organically is one thing, but planning it behind closed doors is another.
9. Saving Their Passwords When They Used Your Computer
In the '90s, many people did not have their own computers, and if they did, they likely weren't portable. (Remember when even laptops were enormous?) This means that a lot of us used each other's computers to sign into things like email, AIM, and MySpace pages when we were visiting someone else's house. Now, sharing a computer is entirely normal, but saving someone's login information is a pretty epic violation of trust and privacy. Definitely a bad move in the '90s and today.
10. Constantly Refreshing Their MySpace Page
Anyone else remember how on MySpace, you could see how many times your profile had been viewed, but not by whom? Yeah, looking back, it's very likely that the massive increases in your profile "views" had to do with your crush trying to remember all of your favorite bands and see if their place on your "Top 8" friends had shifted at all. Or, it was your mom checking up on you. Either way, still creepy in a delightfully '90s way.
11. Writing Notes To Ask Them Out
Who didn't pass notes around during class in the '90s? Passing notes to your friends was something pretty much everybody did, but when it came to writing a note to your crush, the anxiety could really set in full force, especially when it came to asking them to hang out. The result? Many, many preteens writing notes asking, "Do you like me?" with the option of circling "yes" or "no." You know you loved to torture yourself if you gave them the option of "maybe."
12. Dedicating Songs To Them On The Radio
OK, to be fair, it was pretty much the dream of everybody in the '90s to dedicate a song on the radio. That stuff was competitive! That said, dedicating a song to your crush was a whole new world of opportunity and possibility: Would they recognize your voice? Would they like the song? Would they get it? Mind you, whether or not they were even listening to the same station at the exact same time was another story all together, but still, the hope was definitely alive in the '90s.
Images: ABC; Giphy (12)