The history of popular culture

16 Dating

This is how it works in the movies: boy meets girl, they hate each other with a passion, but circumstances (or, in the case of The Thirty- nine Steps, handcuffs) conspire to keep them together. Finally they discover deep love and respect for each other and marry/ fall into bed together/ solve the murder/ discover penicillin and generally live happily ever after.

Hollywood sometimes describes this process as "meeting cute", using cute as an adverb, grammatical correctness not being Hollywood's strongest suit. It forms the basis of pretty well every film you have ever seen. Sure, it didn't work out too well in Psycho, what with Janet Leigh ending up in the boot of that car and all, but most dating in the movies is simply a matter of meeting someone agreeable and waiting for the gods to lend a hand.

In real life, unless you are fortunate, there is unlikely to be a network of German spies or a mad axeman to help pass the evening, so you may have nothing more substantial than your own wit and charm on which to rely. Tough call. The American comedian Jerry Seinfeld describes dating as like a job interview that goes on all night.

It is a minefield all right, with everything you do or say open to misinterpretation. Until now the only rules on the subject were that there were no rules, which is why it is so unfair that when a code of conduct is finally published it is exclusively for the distaff side of the arrangement.

The Rules is America's, No 1 best-seller, soon to be a major motion picture (was a book ever destined to be a minor motion picture?), and aims to tell the modern young woman how she can load the dice even more in her favour. It is the work of Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein, two thirtysomething American women of a type normally described as feisty, who look quite capable of fighting their corner on the toughest date. It is full of advice such as; "Always end a date first," "Don't call him and rarely return his calls," and "Don't stare or talk too much." Both women claim to have snared a husband following advice in the book, which is subtitled "Time- tested Secrets For Capturing The Heart Of Mr Right".

The Rules could clearly not have been published in the Sixties or Seventies - they would have gone against both the incipient feminism of the times and the male-dominated hang-loose hippy ethos. Before that, it would probably have been irrelevant, since dating was usually no more than one element in a courtship ritual invoking groups of young males and females circling round each other before pairing off and mating for life.

What has suddenly made dating big news, and allowed an old-fashioned book like The Rules (the rules were apparently devised by the grandmother of one of the authors' friends) to appear plugged into the zeitgeist, is the increase in serial dating. The rise in the divorce rate and the later age at which people marry means that dating can continue pretty well to the grave.

Films like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, together with the great phalanxes of Lonely Hearts ads in the broadsheet papers, recognise that dating is now a second, third, or fourth-chance affair for adults and no longer just part of growing up.

Maybe The Rules will help women deal with it, but if it is any comfort, dating is no picnic for men either, and many of us would happily go along with Seinfeld's suggestion of a pre-date ritual to defuse the tension. The couple would meet in one of those rooms used by prisoners, separated by a glass screen. That way the only sexual tension would be wondering whether to put your hand on the glass or not. And, says Seinfeld, if you feel uncomfortable at any point, you just signal to the guard and they take the other person away.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss