1. Calling someone to ask them out. Just a few years ago, when someone you liked or had just started seeing called you, it was super exciting. Now, if someone calls you (especially early on), your first thought is that something is very wrong.
2. Dressing up (as in actually putting on formal attire) for a date. It’s not that people don’t try to look chic for each other; we still do out hair and make up, and put on a nice shirt or what have you. But when was the last time you saw a couple dressed up in a suit or a cocktail dress just to go out for a nice meal, rather than because they’re coming back from a client meeting or a wedding.
3. Telling someone how you really feel. Instead of sending cryptic texts, and trying to play mind games via Tinder chat. Apparently, The Bachelorette is the last place where it’s casual (okay, expected) to say you’re falling for someone.
4. Talking about the future. I think at one point, it was really sweet if one person in the relationship mentioned what they saw for themselves in the future without anyone overthinking it. It was appealing and even sexy that they had goals, and wanted to eventually get married, move places, have kids, or get a great new job. Maybe this is just me, but it feels like that is less kosher now. It feels like more people assume talking about the future suggests an ulterior motive and implies the girl or guy wants to wifey the other up or push them into a commitment they aren’t ready for.
5. Picking you up. It doesn’t matter at this point who picks who up – the man or the woman. It just matters that that used to be expected on a date. None of this non committal ‘text me when you arrive and I’ll try to distinguish you from the eight other guys also wearing a plaid button down and semi-skinny jeans’ bullshit.
6. Writing notes or love letters. Instead we now save sweet emails or lock a text or screen shot a sentimental Facebook message. And I guess, when it really comes down to it, those are still words sent by someone you love, and it’s not super different. But a note from someone you love is something you can hold on to, and there’s something about seeing someone’s handwriting on a lined, yellow piece of paper that makes it extra personal.
7. Someone walking up to you at a bar and actually starting a conversation, instead of mindlessly grunting. We often complain about the fact that no one actually meets at parties or at a bar anymore, and I honestly don’t think that’s the end of the world. Meeting a stranger at happy hour is not all that different from meeting someone online. But here’s the thing, whenever you do meet someone at a bar, it’s so often someone who is just interested in hooking up, but not actually dating. It’s rare that someone would approach you and want to get to know you, but entirely normal for someone to aggressively hit on you once they’re six drinks deep.
8. Asking someone on a date, instead of asking them to “hang out.” The practice of wanting to call your relationship something instead of just being in the state of “we’re talking” for five months is going out of style faster than boot-cut jeans.
9. Bringing flowers. Again, it doesn’t matter who is bringing the flowers to whom, it’s the more the fact that it just isn’t a romantic gesture that happens much anymore. On Valentine’s Day? Yes. Anniversary? Maybe. But on a regular date? Not anymore.
10. Holding doors open. I realized the other day that when someone does hold a door open, I’m so used to it not happening that I instinctively back away and offer to let them go first. For some reason, just saying thank you and walking through the door seems really unnatural to me. Look, it’s 2016, and women certainly don’t need doors opened for them, but hey, every once and a while, it’s a nice gesture.
11. Exchanging little gifts early in a relationship. If a woman or man gave a little token of their affection early in the relationship, it used to be a small sign that they cared. Couples that stayed together could look back and point to little keepsakes and momentos and be reminded of their first days and months and even years together. Now, it feels like that’s considered “coming on too strong.”
12. A woman reaching out to a man. Whether it was at a Sadie Hawkins dance, or offering up a second date, it used to be a sweet (albeit irregular occurrence) for a woman to make a few of the first moves. Yet now, for all the strides we’ve made, a woman still comes off as “crazy” if she does too much of the initial relationship legwork.