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The article went on to say that if, for some reason, you did not have a date on a particular night, you should keep the lights off in your dorm room so no one would know you were home.Beth Bailey comments, "Popularity was clearly the key — and popularity defined in a very specific way.And this new system had its own set of rules and customs. I have known college couples, and even high school couples, to buy a pet together — goldfish, hamsters, etc., which leads to a dispute over the care-giving of a living creature. Do we have a system that values what is called "serial monogamy" — a succession of exclusive and serious relationships, as a practice for marriage? I think the answer is, "yes," "no" and "I don't know." It appears that the "script" that has developed in the closing decades of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st is, "anything goes." And, although for many years this was sold under the heading of , I believe young adults over the past decade have discovered that, in fact, it has caused cultural and relational vertigo — not knowing for certain which way is up or down, and not knowing in which direction to move. How do I know when I'm with a person (meaning, dating them exclusively)? In many Christian communities there seems to be movement toward rediscovering, or creating anew, some sort of script that conforms itself to the way God created man and woman to relate to each other.

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If the average age of first marriages was dropping (around age 18 for women and 20 for men) then the preparation for marriage — the shopping around, if you will — had to begin much earlier than that.

One sociologist wrote in a July 1953 article that each boy and girl ideally should date 25 to 50 eligible marriage partners before making his or her final decision.

After World War II the norms within the dating system began to change.

By the late 1940s and early 1950s demographic realities began to sink in: There was a shortage of men.

In the late 1940s, Margaret Mead, in describing this pre-war dating system, argued that dating was not about sex or marriage.

Instead, it was a "competitive game," a way for girls and boys to demonstrate their popularity.

By the early 1950s, going steady had acquired a totally different meaning.

It was no longer the way a marriageable couple signaled their deepening intentions.

Men's popularity needed outward material signs: automobile, clothing, fraternity membership, money, etc.

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