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The ghosts of dating, past, present and future

By Rose Cooper - posted Tuesday, 1 June 2004

Ladies, who remembers their first date? Do we still date, or is the concept a bit dated? Is it really the new millennium, or do we have the wrong date? Whatever! The Y2K scare is a distant memory and the “Noughties” are in full swing (baby!). Our innocence was lost during the sexual revolution of the 60s – but are we any closer to figuring out all this “dating etiquette”? Time to glance back over our shoulder at where we’ve been - and perhaps catch a glimpse of where we’re going.

50s Date

Who our role models were: Donna Reed, Sandra Dee, Marilyn Monroe

What we wore: Calf-length, full skirts, hats and gloves.


Where we went: Formal balls, dancehalls, the back stalls (of the “pictures”)

When he impressed us: By opening doors (and owning his own car).

How the date ended: With a chaste kiss under the porch light

Why we worried: “He slipped me the tongue, will he still respect me?”

50s Dater: Anne, 68, Corporate consultant/Siddha yoga teacher

When I started going out at 15, square-dancing parties were big. The “New Look” was also big. Big, flared skirts with layers of starched petticoats, which meant hours of ironing. In university, we progressed to big, formal balls. I had a few male friends to escort me but you had to wait to be invited. I spent most nights either at a ball or sitting by the telephone waiting for an invitation. I had my first real boyfriend at 18 - an English sailor ten years older. Mum took him aside and warned him: “absolutely no kissing and cuddling”. After a typical date we might invite a boy in for coffee and play records. There was some canoodling but I was a good Catholic – fear and shame kept my legs crossed. Mum was a widow and she encouraged me to pursue an education to ensure my independence.


Nevertheless, a woman had to marry by her mid 20s - or risk looking desperate! I married at 22 in 1957. We had a great life and a big family, but in 1973, my husband died after a long illness. Suddenly I was single in the midst of the sexy 70s … at an age where I was positively oozing sexuality and ready to break all the rules. Men I’d known for years were waiting to take me out. We had candlelit dinners, romantic picnics … even the occasional dirty weekend.

It was all very grown up, but also an emotional minefield. I’m through with dating nowadays. My life’s full enough without the complication. Besides - been there, done that … and had a ball!

60s Date

Who our role models were: Gidget, The Flying Nun.

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About the Author

Rose Cooper is a freelance writer and actor who has contributed to many national publications over the past 20 years. She was Australian Women's Forum Magazine's most prolific contributor as well as their Sex Advice Columnist. Her areas of expertise include comedy, women's health and sexuality issues, relationships, theatre and pop culture. For more of Rose's articles visit:

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