If you dated in the 1960s, like my mum, you’d do a lot of dancing mainly because it gave people a legit excuse to touch each other. Ditto dates to the cinema, which offered darkness as a cover for all kinds of shenanigans.
Thanks to an unfortunate predilection for the bad boys, I did a lot of dating in the 80s, 90s and noughties before stumbling on my husband in 2008 (praise be!). When I wrote Artists Town, which is sent in the early 1990s, it took me back down memory lane and the days of dating pre-mobile phones and the internet.
In those days, dear Millennials and Gen Z readers, here’s what we put up with…
- In the 80s, answer machines were only just coming in, so if someone wasn’t in their house you had to phone them a lot while your fevered imagination conjured up scenarios of said guy out with Dread Other Girl.
- Most people had landlines—one per house. Phoning your beau often meant getting past his mother. Excruciating, especially when said bad boy made her lie on his behalf, and you heard him in the room whispering that she was to tell you he was out/ill/dead.
- No-one Google stalked anyone before going out with them. All you had to go on was what they told you—or their reputation. (The badder, the better worked for me.)
- And no Google stalking a person meant their dodgy political views came as a nasty surprise six dates in.
- Swipe right/left took place in real life. You’d go to a party or a disco and eye up the girls/boys and see them doing the same back—no, no, not in a million years, wouldn’t touch her with my mate’s, okay if I don’t find anyone else by the end of the night, andYES.
- You were able to hang up on people. In theory that’s possible now, but that misses out on the satisfaction of slamming down a phone, leaving the other person listening to the pips. Bad boy enthusiasts needed to do that a lot.
- If you grew up in a small town, as I did, no-one owned up to gayness. They just left and headed for the big cities where more open-minded folks lived.
- To Netflix and chill, you had to go to Blockbuster’s and pick up a VHS tape or DVD. And if you wanted to watch a series together, YOU HAD TO WAIT A WEEK BETWEEN EACH EPISODE!*
- Dates meant punctuality. Without a mobile phone, letting someone know you were going to be late wasn’t an option.
- If you wanted nude pictures of your guy or girl, you took them with a Polaroid camera—an instant snap, which cut out the embarrassment of taking your film to be developed in Boots.
The good thing about that last point is that revenge porn wasn’t that much of a thing in ye olden days. Your disgruntled ex could only share the picture afterwards with his mates, instead of putting them online where millions could admire your tush, bush and boobs. If he wanted to send it to Readers Wives, that would involve putting the picture in an envelope, addressing it, buying a stamp and posting it—rather than clicking two buttons.
*I know. I saw all 92 episodes of Mad Men in two months earlier this year, I look back at those days and wonder how I coped.