Happy Valentine’s Day!
By Don Corrigan
Do couples go courting anymore? Is dating an obsolete art? Is real romance dead on arrival? Do we now just “Do It In The Road,” if at all, as Beatle John Lennon used to sing?
Some alarming national statistics show that fewer Americans are courting, dating and marrying. Romancing is just something that old people talk about when recalling their favorite “make-out sites” or their necking at drive-in movies.
Census data shows extremely low marriage rates among millennials and Gen Z-ers – only 29 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds were married in 2018, compared to 59 percent of young people of comparable age in 1978.
Dour statistics on courting and marriage have beget screaming headlines about the “marriage crisis,” “rudderless young men” and “the end of marriage” in national magazines.
Liberals blame the demise of love on social media and Tinder. Young people use Apps to hook up for one-night stands with no end-game. They are looking for love in all the wrong places. Actually, they aren’t looking for love at all.
Conservatives blame a liberal culture that promotes same-sex relationships rather than traditional marriage; and, a culture that conditions young men to avoid responsibility and steady jobs that could support marriage and family.
Conservative U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri says young men are taught in school that the male gender is toxic, so they are demoralized. Hawley has vowed to address the situation with a new book, slated to come out in May, to be titled, “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs.”
In fact, the decline in courting, dating and marriage may not have much to do with politics at all, so hold off on the blame games and political finger-pointing. Some experts advise looking at science for an explanation.
A Matter of Science
Environmentalists say a major cause of the “crisis in love and marriage” may just be chemical. It’s all about chemical pollutants affecting us, and not about social and political culture or new communications technologies. They say there is definitely “something in the water.”
A decline of masculine characteristics in animals can sometimes be attributed to endocrine disruptors. These are found in many everyday products, including some plastic bottles and containers, liners of metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, cosmetics, and pesticides.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals interfere with normal hormonal balance and can result in adverse consequences for human sexuality. The male reproductive system is especially susceptible to the effects of environmental toxicants.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are slow to break down in the environment and can have long-lasting effects. Animals affected by these chemicals will have low fertility rates, reduced testosterone and smaller sexual organs.
It is probably too early in the course of scientific research to blame endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment for alarming statistics in mating habits and reproduction in humans.
The concern about artificial estrogens in water supplies and endocrine disrupters in streams and rivers is real. More study is warranted, according to scientific experts.
On A Positive Note
Any story on the “State of Love in America,” especially as Valentine’s Day nears, must end on a positive note. Joanna Weiss, an editor at POLITICO Magazine, writes that the dating-and-marriage plan still appeals to many young people who otherwise seem to be opting out of that tradition.
To prove her contention, Weiss points to the extreme popularity of reality dating television shows. She also notes that young people are just delaying marriage – waiting until they are more financially secure before making serious commitments.
The overarching message of a slew of reality dating television shows is strikingly traditional: that monogamous love is far preferable to the unsatisfying treadmill of endless hookups and rotating partners. Weiss finds all this encouraging for the future of romance and marriage.
Weiss also cites surveys and think tank reports that offer hopeful information on the future of love and marriage.
A 2020 survey commissioned by the wedding platform, “The Knot,” found that 80 percent of the Gen Z-ers and millennials reported spending time imagining their wedding day, and most of them expected to be married within two to five years.
That mood apparently matches a 2018 Pew Center report that found that, while many Americans are no longer marrying young, nearly two thirds still hope to marry someday, and a quarter said they just haven’t found the person they’re looking for.
How can Mr. or Ms. Right be found? Maybe on Valentine’s Day 2023, it’s time for some earnest dating, courting and romancing. After all, you have to get in the hunt to find the prize.
A worrying development due to the environment. Thank you 🙏🌍