How do people pursue relationships today compared to 50 years ago?


From formal introductions to changing norms on social media, how did people pursue relationships over the past 50 years and how do

we handle them today? In an article on, journalist Petra Cahill describes her parents’ philosophy on marriage during the


Her parents were newly married in the “Mad Men” era dominated by the John F. Kennedy presidency, the Cold War and John Glenn’s

famous Earth orbit.

Her mother, Susan Cahill, described the intense pressure to be married by 21, or be considered a social outcast.

Oh, how things have changed.

Cahill’s father Tom revealed his perceptions on the tremendous relational changes that began in the ’60s.

According to Tom Cahill, “I would say, in my opinion, it was the Pill. It changed the whole situation with how people used to live,

changed it completely.”

The birth control pill was a contributing factor to the feminism movement which empowered women to push  the boundaries, including

college degrees and highly skilled professions.

According to “Changes in the American Family” from Psychology Today, the ideals about marriage itself have changed over the years.

The 1920s embodied companion marriage marked by “self-aspiration, enhanced freedom and egalitarian relationships.”

In short, companion marriage focuses more on the camaraderie between husband and wife more than intimacy or raising children.

The couple respects each other as individuals and friends more than romantic partners. clearly defines companion marriage, which is predominant in couples who marry younger.

“Companionate marriage is based on the spouses having mutual interests in their careers and children. They also have a shared social

network that includes their in-laws and mutual friends,” the article said. “Spouses in companionate marriages believe in the equality of

men and women and believe their roles in marriage are interchangeable.” After the feminist movement and creation of birth control,

marriages experienced heightened tension due to both husband and wife working full-time, leaving household duties a tricky mystery.

One constant struggle through the decades has been and will ever be how do you find your future husband or wife?

Dr. Frederic Neuman, director of the Anxiety and Phobia Center at White Plains Hospital in New York, wrote an intriguing article about

methods of finding a mate paired with personal self-consciousness.

In the article, Dating: Then and Now,” Dr. Neuman explains that men and women had to be formally introduced to each other

before even speaking in the 19th century.

Over time, men and women would meet at dances or parties which required confidence to win over their flame.

Beginning in the early 19th century men living in western states would place advertisements for wives from eastern states within national


Although it may sound far-fetched to our ears, this concept in many ways parallels Internet dating.

In both newspaper advertisements and Internet dating sites, the primary concerns are dangerous encounters and public desperation.

With the model of single-income father and stay-at-home mom changing into a crazy maze of ever-changing relationship rules and

confusing technology “norms,” how do Millennials face relationships?

Andrew Reiner, English professor at Towson University, provides several honest observations of the Millennial approach to


According to his article “Love Actually” in The New York Times, “hooking up and hanging out flouts the golden rule of what makes

marriage and love work: emotional vulnerability.”

Reiner goes on to uncover some of the reasons behind this dip-in-dip-out philosophy.

Pop music is filled with messages telling young adults to find their social identity in sex.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, these same individuals have been pressured by their parents that making grades, perfecting their

resumes and pursuing extracurricular activities are much more important than romantic pursuits.

Professors across the nation are beginning to develop workshops and even courses that help guide Millennials through the

communication and principles found in healthy relationships.

Whether you resonate with old-fashioned customs or skillfully use technology to build relationships, one truth remains.

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him,’” Genesis 2:18.

By Chelsea Gammon

Chelsea Gammon is a staff writer and editor for MBU Timeline. She is a senior double majoring in Journalism and Public Relations. Chelsea works part-time in the Special Events office on campus. In the spring she will be a public relations assistant for MBU’s University Communications Department. She previously enjoyed working with Timeline Broadcast. After graduation, Gammon plans to explore many opportunities and make a difference wherever she goes.