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Middle class calling rituals, calling cards, flowers, and other small courtship gifts became increasingly elaborated, common, and expensive during the Victorian era (Ames 1978).
The cost of courtship also increased due to more commercial entertainments such as "Taking a train or streetcar to a nearby town to see a show, ride a carousel, or dance in a cabaret" (Rothman 1984, p. If men felt an increased economic burden in these rituals, women felt increasingly uneasy about the economic dependency that such gift-giving fostered (Lystra 1989, p. However, it was not until the emergence of dating during the 1920s that the cost and scale of interactions among unmarried men and women, especially those in college, made a quantum leap.
Whereas courtship involves socializing with the intention of marriage (Rothman 1984, p.
American dating, mating, and courtship activities employ money and tangible gifts as key ritual elements and as focal symbolic vehicles.
Gifts and dating expenditures "say" what cannot be said in words.
However, perhaps due to the crass associations of exchanging money and gifts for the attentions and sexual favors of prostitutes, mistresses, gigolos, and gold-diggers, research on Western dating has largely ignored the monetary and material aspects of these relationships. DATING AND COURTSHIP The role of material possessions in early middle class American courtship practices was not so much in impressive gift-giving as in displaying command of the resources for providing comfort and earning a living. 24) explains: Before a man could marry, he had to possess the means to support a wife and children....
A related explanation for this lack of attention is the inappropriate intrusion of the profane into the supposed realm of the sacred when cash and gifts become too prominent in our view of dating (Belk, Wallendorf, and Sherry 1989, Belk and Wallendorf 1990). His marriage "portion"--the land he would farm, the house in which he and his bride would live--came from a share of his father's property.
Treating dating as an exchange relationship may threaten to commoditize and destroy the illusions provided by the romantic model of love. Where the eighteenth-century man had looked to provide a simply furnished house for his family, men who married in the increasingly industrialized middle years of the nineteenth century set higher standards for themselves.