So when it comes to the history of dating, where do you even start?
But the more I read, the more I realized that “dating” is where a human goes from merely surviving to looking for meaning in his or her life. So, essentially a history of dating is a history of what it means to be human.
So if we are going to talk about the history of dating, we have to go back.
Way, way wayyyyyy back.
Welcome to sometime between 60,000 and 45,000 B.C.
Scientists are still a little unsure. What we do know is that dating for cave-people was straightforward. Survival was the chief concern for the hunter-gatherer wandering bands of cave-people. Contrary to popular opinion, sexuality for cave-people was not a free-for-all-hit-a-woman-over-the-head-and-carry-her-back-to-your-cave sort of experience. In all likelihood, dating was even more controlled and ritualized than it is today.
Basically every human in the group meant another mouth to feed. And if they couldn’t walk they had to be carried. So every baby meant another mouth to feed, and another 10 pounds to carry. And forget about trying to be sneaky and hide from hungry saber-tooth tigers with a screaming child in the camp. All that trouble for a human that might become a productive member of society in 8 or 10 years.
That meant finding someone to make a new human was a huge deal—not just for the lucky couple, but for the entire community. These early humans probably learned early on that dating your family members not only made things awkward around the campfire, but also created some pretty ugly kiddos. So they had to find another traveling band of humans (ones that didn’t try to kill them), maybe find a possible suitor in those groups of people, and then convince that potential mate to leave their tribe and join theirs.
And you thought you had it bad.
This is precisely the kind of scenario that probably led to the development of language as we know it today. Having the right mate in your life meant that a) you could survive better, and b) that your kids would be stronger/smarter/faster/more prone to surviving.
However, how does go about attracting that mate? What if they weren’t the most physically attractive? Thus, women began speaking, making sounds that turned the head of potential mate, and convince him that he should stay with her. It then became apparent that language also worked in raising children, keeping the community together, coordinating tasks, and convincing her dad that you weren’t a creep. Imagine that.
So what made Paleolithic humans go through all of that trouble? I mean having a kid doesn’t really help anyone live longer, does it?
Earlier I said that the history of dating is really the history of what it means to be human. And I think this is no more apparent than in Paleolithic dating. Our ancestors dated because they understood the act of finding someone completely human, yet utterly different, and convincing them (and yourself) to leave your family is a good idea because of one reason.
Dating is the only thing that made all of that survival worth it.
Stay tuned for more on the history of dating.