Dating culture is before us in pieces, and it up to men and women of good will to put it back together again. And therefore I propose my dating manifesto, in the hopes that it will miraculously catch on and improve the lives of Single people immeasurably.
Preamble: Men and women are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore must be treated with dignity and never as a means to an end, e.g. a free dinner, a sexual adventure. God having ordained that men and women should be "fruitful and multiply," the natural end of the human being is marriage although God may call upon a human being to forego that natural end to assist his or her spiritual end, which is happiness with God forever.
Over the centuries, courtship has taken many forms or, when parents arranged marriages for their children, dispensed with altogether. It is worth noting that from the earliest days of the Christian community, Single life, particularly consecrated Single life, has been privileged over marriage, and therefore it has been recognized that there are not only spiritual joys, but spiritual sacrifices, involved in the married state. (Even after Vatican II, Catholic marriage ceremonies feature special prayers over the bride.) And therefore it behooves men and women not to hold themselves cheaply, and be willing to do anything in the hope of marriage, but to consider carefully whether they ought to marry and whom they should marry.
Traditionally, perhaps for reasons as psychological as they are cultural, it has been the difficult privilege of men to court women for marriage. There have been, of course, exceptions to this rule, e.g. as the heir to the throne, Princess Elizabeth (now H.M. the Queen ) had to propose to Philip of Greece (now the Duke of Edinburgh). But there is no denying that this rule has caused pain to women, who feel that if only they could openly pursue their chosen love interest, their suit would be successful. This is, in fact, sometimes true. However, it is rather often not, particularly when it comes to men who are sick of being chased by women.
Crikey. I do not think I can keep up this tone all morning.
In short, we need some rules, so here they are:
1. Whoever asks, pays.
2. Seraphic Singles do not ask men out on first, second or third dates. Seraphic Singles invite them to their parties and make sure they are fed, watered and having a good time. Whenever tempted to ask out a crush object, they have a party and invite him to that.
If asked (at a party, say) by the crush object's pal if she likes the crush object, she should say that she thinks he's great and leave it at that.
3. Seraphic Singles cheerfully go on as many first dates that are offered by kindly men of good reputation whom they like in the knowledge that although a man might not look like Ryan Gosling now, he might look like Ryan Gosling later, should Cupid's arrow strike. In short, it's just a coffee.
4. Seraphic Singles signal that they are willing to consider a man a potential boyfriend and not "just a friend" by not paying on the first date. If by the end of the first date she knows without a shadow of a doubt that she does not like him at all, she should insist on splitting the cheque.
5. Seraphic Singles signal that they are not just spending time with a man for the free food and treats (should there be any doubt on this score, e.g. in a very economically depressed area like a university or a ghetto) by occasionally offering to pay for something, e.g. on a second venue on a second date, i.e. the popcorn stand after the ticket booth or the cafe after the restaurant.
That said, if a man ever complains about the money he spent on dates that were his idea, then he is a toad. And if a man as much as hints that he expects sexual favours in return for the money he has spent, he is a super-toad and the Seraphic Single tells him off and never speaks to him again.
6. Seraphic Singles do not go to men's houses for dates, nor do they invite them into their own houses for dates or after dates, unless the house is ablaze with light and brimming with relations or housemates. (Taking pity on a heavy smoker for whom restaurants were agony, I once agreed to come to his house for supper, but said I had to bring a chaperone. He was so super-trad, he was delighted. My chaperone wore flowing black draperies and brought her own cigarettes.)
7. Seraphic Singles despise the Third Date Rule. However, three dates is enough time to decide if one wants to continue seeing a man or not. If a Seraphic Single wants to continue seeing a man after the third date, then she should wait to see if he asks her out for a fourth date, and only after that start thinking about (A) the future (B) initiating dates (C) paying for dates (see Number 1).
8. Seraphic Singles are careful to listen for clues that a man believes that the Third Date, not marriage, is when modern men and women have sex. For example, if a man says the following, don't agree to a third date: "Well, we can go to only so many cafes and restaurants. Why don't you come to my house on Friday night?"
9. Seraphic Singles resist the temptation of being a career girlfriend, dating a man for a year or two and then dumping him when he gets boring. A Seraphic Single breaks up with a man as soon as she realizes she really does not want to marry him, and in the case of adults-out-of-education this really must not take more than a year. A Seraphic Single also resists the delicious drama of lovers' triangles and racking up as many male hearts as she can break before her reputation has more holes in it than a target in the local rifle range. A Seraphic Single is kind.
10. Seraphic Singles resist the fate of being made into career girlfriends. If the subject of marriage has not come up in conversation within a year of her first date with her boyfriend, a Seraphic Single needs to bring it up herself. The conversation does not have to be a marriage proposal; it just has to be an indication that marriage is on the cards.
11. Seraphic Singles do not write love letters, love emails, love texts or love tweets to state how they really feel and to clear the air. I wonder if I burned that agonized note from that seminarian or whether I will still have it in 30 years when he is an archbishop and I am dead broke. Hmm... Hmm... Actually, I think I burned it.
12. Seraphic Singles do not persecute men with their attentions or yell at non-boyfriends for not being sufficiently attracted to, attentive to, or in love with them. They imagine how much they would hate it if men did that to them and keep a firm hold of themselves.
13. Seraphic Singles do not knowingly go on first or second dates with discerners or seminarians, even if the seminarian is on summer holiday and his bishop supposedly told him to date. If while dating a man he becomes a discerner, a Seraphic Single is within her rights to break up with him or "support him with her loving friendship" as she chooses. If he becomes a seminarian, she breaks up with him.
14. Seraphic Singles do not give men-not-their-relations gifts except on very special occasions, and then only very modest, inexpensive presents. A Seraphic Single never inadvertently gives a man the impression that she is trying to buy him. Silver cigarette cases are right out.
15. Seraphic Singles never, ever judge their worth by how many times they are asked out on a date, or if they have ever been asked out on a date. If feeling blue about this whole datelessness thing, a Seraphic Single organizes a party.
Update: I think I should remind everyone that it seems that dating is in itself less frequent for the young now than it was for previous generations, including my own, as more and more men are more and more reluctant to marry until they are much older. Therefore many of these rules, though I think they are practical in themselves, may prove to be more theoretical than anything else.