The Decline of Courtship in the Modern Age

the decline of courtship

To love rightly is to love what is orderly and beautiful in an educated and disciplined way. — Plato

Call me ‘old-fashioned,’ but the banality of dating habits I hear about from male and female psychotherapy clients in their 20’s and 30’s makes me recoil in horror.

Phone conversations are apparently an antiquated convention and way too exposing of one’s authentic self.

Hence, dates are typically established via pixilated messages.

Overtures of adoration are conveyed in a similar way. Sex has become just as cavalier. If you’re fortunate a break-up occurs on the phone or (gasp!) in person. More likely, you’ll be dumped through a text or some sort of social media forum where you’ll arbitrarily discover your mate’s status is suddenly ‘single.’

Head over to Instagram and you can view a visual pictorial of your ex’s new relationship! Then purge your emotional distress by broadcasting your relational quagmire on your blog. Healed in the aftermath of the blog catharsis, you can now make your way to Tinder, where you can rate countless profile faces in the hopes of meeting a real-life person!

Electronic Courtship

The aforementioned scenario is what often results when courtship occurs electronically. Are we so deeply buried in our computers and smart phones that we’ve lost sight of each other?

To avoid conflict, awkwardness, doubts, insecurity, etc,. we succumb to cyber forms of communication. We’ve become careless with one another. Emoticons are relied upon to add nuance and tone.

Where is the vulnerability, the risk, the intimacy, the humanity necessary to cultivate a relationship?

This sheer laziness and lack of effort inherent in modern day cyber dating rituals are antithetical to romantic courtship.

Courtship is a codified means by which romantic love develops and progresses. Rooted in social norms and relational needs, courtship begins with rapport and is designed to deepen disclosure and foster mutual dependency.

In a climate of obsessive pre-occupation with technology, the basics of social interaction are eroding.

Sadly our cultural conditioning in this day of post-modernity has contributed to our lowering the bar on standards of interpersonal integrity. On a fundamental level, the sort of rapport and trust a romantic connection requires can only evolve with consistent in-person cues.

To Love Rightly

To love rightly as Plato put it, is to purposely commit to behaviors which demonstrate reliability, a valuing of another’s feelings, offering support, praise, interest, self-disclosure, empathy, protection and nurturance.

To love requires volition. It requires us to stop hiding behind the detached anonymity of technology, and to step up to the task of creating a safe space where two people can reveal themselves fully and deeply. Only then can the possibility of true abiding love flourish.

Man with roses photo available from Shutterstock

The Decline of Courtship in the Modern Age

Rev Sheri Heller, LCSW

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, is a seasoned NYC psychotherapist with 25+ years experience in the addiction and mental health fields. Sheri is also an interfaith minister and playwright, and the founder of The Sistah Tribe - Phoenix Project, a therapeutic theater event for at-risk women and girls in the public sector of NYC. For more information, visit


APA Reference
Heller, R. (2016). The Decline of Courtship in the Modern Age. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 19 Feb 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Feb 2016
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