Dating in the New World

Ahhh, the good old days of dating! Boy sees girl, asks her to be his "novia", and she says "sí". That's how it was when my mom was allowed to have boyfriends. Then came the challenges: he visited her home, her father decided to read the paper in the living room with them; he took her out, and her little brother had to come along. It was the era of the "chaperonas", and as far she was concerned, this dating scenario was pretty revolutionary. In generations prior, mothers and aunts chaperoned the budding couple. How did people ever get married?

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By the time my sister started dating, her trials no longer involved nosy chaperones and were more cultural in nature. She met Mikey only a few months after we left Puerto Rico to live in the American South. She spoke little English; he spoke no Spanish. Instead of being novios, they were just dating. Their outings included football tailgates (people eat out of their cars?!?), mountain hikes (really? You're gonna make me sweat?) and shopping for matching polo shirts (preppy was in, ok!). When they went out for dinner, he ordered her steak medium rare (Ew! Blood! Parasites!), and he couldn't believe she poured ketchup all over her baked potato. This new world of dating for my sister had culture shock written all over it!

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Today, technology has brought yet another dimension to the already complicated world of relationships. If you're single, you already know that looking for love via online dating services is the thing to do. While there are plenty of bars, supermarkets and coffee shops that can supply a pretty good crop of potential mates, online dating, with its thousands of hopefuls, is the ultimate love-finding smorgasbord. But now, instead of a chaperone getting in the way, you get a computer screen, and when it comes to bridging cultural gaps your dating pool will run the gamut.

The gains? You can pinpoint the exact qualifications of your desired dreamboat, and then, with the push of a button, get just the ones you want. In my case, tall, dark and handsome, non-smoking Latinos with a college education and a good paying job will do. No fuss, no mess. The losses? While I don't advocate going back to "chaperonismo", there was an innocent simplicity that we miss today. Lost are the glances across the room and love at first sight. Now it's more like love at first profile page on Match! Whether we rely on technology to resolve all our love problems or not, I still want to fall in love the old fashioned way: face to face, hand on hand and forever.

And like my abuela used to say, ¡Eso es así!

What has dating in the US been like for you? Share your comments here.

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