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Good riddance to dating rituals

It's easy to romanticize your past and expect your children to repeat it.

But not all our memories (or mistakes) are worth reliving.

My daughters are on the cusp of what's considered the dating age. Yet it sounds like the experiences ahead for them may be markedly different from mine.

I'm cool with that.

Lately, we've been acting like our society is on the verge of collapse because a new generation is supposedly shunning the treasured rituals that defined courtship for centuries. This month alone, The Atlantic has worried that online dating services are jeopardizing marriage and monogamy. The New York Times has lamented "The End of Courtship" in the age of technology and hookup.

Hanging out, these articles claim, has replaced dating. They point to the HBO show "Girls" as proof that 20-somethings would rather text and casually meet up than go on a formal date. This is reported as if we are facing a moral crisis in our culture -- a major tragedy, particularly for women, who now don't stand a chance to get a decent dinner or even a free drink.

But one girl's social Armageddon is another girl's perfect evening.

So men aren't expected to fork over a week's salary on dinner and a date? Women aren't pressured to put out at the end of a perfect night?

Sounds pretty liberating to me.

I'm grateful that life – and dating – is different today. Women don't have to worry about finding a man who can support them. They can delay childbirth until they're ready. Men don't have to worry about being the sole breadwinner. They can stay home if they want, like the 176,000 dads who have left the American workforce to raise their children.

If traditional courtship is dying, it's because the goalposts are being moved. New relationships – with men and women on equal footing – demand new rules.

If you haven't noticed, our generation and the ones before us haven't exactly been getting relationships right. More than half of all our marriages end in divorce.

If my daughters and their friends want to write their own rules about flirting, dating and relationships, I'll gladly set nostalgia aside just to see what new playbook they come up with.

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