The Evolution of Relationships Over 50 Years
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 today.com, 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.
About.com 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.