February 02, 2023
People sometimes think love is a product of the modern era. That isn't true. Anyone who has read pre-modern literature can tell that our predecessors felt more-or-less the same emotions we do. Still, they made different choices because they lived under such different circumstances. As a result, the way people love has seen enormous changes over time.
Historically speaking, people were much more concerned with practical considerations than we are when choosing spouses. There is a lingering awareness of this, as shown by the numerous stories in which noblewomen pine because they have been betrothed to people they don't love. However, this concern with practical considerations extended to the rest of society. After all, the lack of strong institutions meant that everyone's most reliable source of help consisted of their friends and family, meaning marriage alliances could be a matter of life and death. If anything, they were even more critical for the rest of society because the overwhelming majority of the population consisted of subsistence farmers, who were perpetually on the brink of starvation.
Thanks to this, dating was quite different in the past when compared with the present, which was when it existed at all. After all, pre-modern marriages were about the families at least as much as the individuals. They did consider personal compatibility, but they saw it as one factor among many. Something that could be superseded by other considerations if necessary. Even when courtship became more common, it was a highly-monitored, extremely formal process because of the harsh expectations placed upon women. Men of means could have extramarital relationships in a wide range of past societies with little comment. In contrast, women tended to live much more restricted lives.
The 20th century saw a massive transformation in how these things worked. Women have fought hard for equal rights. Furthermore, the 20th century saw a rise in living standards and the introduction of cheap, reliable birth control. Thanks to these things, modern dating culture emerged in a way that wouldn't have been possible in previous centuries. Of course, things are still changing constantly. For example, apps and other technology have introduced new ways for interested individuals to interact with one another. Simultaneously, there have been reports that Generations Y and Z are getting married at later ages, not least because they spend less time dating. Every generation redefines relationships. Those living in the present are no exceptions to this rule.
Love is a wonderful thing. If you have a significant other, you should make sure to celebrate Valentine's Day. Love gifts are an easy way to express your feelings, meaning you should start looking for something that catches your eye as soon as possible.
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