In the years preceding World War II, a popularity-based system that sociologists refer to as the “dating and rating complex” developed.

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Dating did not yet exist in the modern sense; society instead favored a courtship model which almost entirely consisted of one long, parentally-controlled audition for marriage.

Marriage during this time was less a public declaration of mutual affection and more an essential means of legally exchanging property between families.

Art and philosophy began to reflect a new world view in which love was prescribed as the ideal foundation for a marriage, even taking precedent over considerations of property.

This new romantic character of courtship plainly took form in the forsaking of traditional highly formalized love letters in favor of letters with a more endearing and poetic tone.

This ritual may seem overly cautious, but in a society in which the Catholic Church was an incredibly powerful institution that prescribed marriage as an integral part of God’s plan, this was not a decision that could be made lightly.

Additionally, the many legal and social barriers surrounding divorce increased the pressure to ensure that a match was suitable.

A woman had to secure a large number of dates with attractive men; if she was unable to, or if she chose to exclusively date one man, her soci al “ratings” would suffer.

In this system, dating and marriage were viewed as two very separate entities, with marriage marking the graduation from youth into adulthood.

This tradition of parental oversight was legitimized by the law, which held that guardians were permitted and expected to organize the transition of their child into a legal marriage.

century, romance had rapidly become the desired method of courtship.

Courtship was the ritual that would allow the families to evaluate potential matches and determine if the arrangement would be advantageous.