This ritual may seem overly cautious, but in a society in which the Catholic Church was an incredibly powerful institution that prescribed marriage as an integral part of God’s plan, this was not a decision that could be made lightly.Additionally, the many legal and social barriers surrounding divorce increased the pressure to ensure that a match was suitable.A marriage built solely on the forces of emotion and mutual affection was scorned and perceived as irresponsible.Rather, love was regarded as the product of a constructed arrangement, eventually achieved by couples with aligned resources and values.A woman had to secure a large number of dates with attractive men; if she was unable to, or if she chose to exclusively date one man, her social “ratings” would suffer.
century, romance had rapidly become the desired method of courtship.
This change was partially catalyzed by the scarcity of young males in the United States, as nearly all able-bodied men between 18 and 26 were engaged in the war effort across seas.
Women became less concerned with a man's status and more interested in his likelihood of survival.
In the years preceding World War II, a popularity-based system that sociologists refer to as the “dating and rating complex” developed.
This consisted of men and women attempting to construct the appearance of desirability, a feat which was accomplished by different means based on gender: Males’ reputations depended on their ability to create an impression of wealth, while the reputation of females was based on the ability to secure the interest of popular men.