, courtship took place in parlor rooms and under parental supervision before the 1920s. But, once dating went public, along with the proliferation of media (radio, magazines, movies, and books), young people heard from others about what was “in.” , “from the late 1930s on, young people knew, down to the percentage point, what their peers throughout the country thought and did.” Perception and appearance became everything.As Beth Bailey, author of The concept of dating value had nothing to do with the interpersonal experience of a date–whether or not the boy (or girl, for that matter) was fun or charming or brilliant was irrelevant. Having a “good line” meant the young gentleman had to exhibit passion and personality to gain a girl’s attention.A girl who could resist “going steady” was most desirable. As Beth Bailey wrote, “You had to rate in order to date, to date in order to rate.
In the late 1940s, Margaret Mead, in describing this pre-war dating system, argued that dating was not about sex or marriage.
Instead, it was a "competitive game," a way for girls and boys to demonstrate their popularity.
The article went on to say that if, for some reason, you did not have a date on a particular night, you should keep the lights off in your dorm room so no one would know you were home.
Beth Bailey comments, "Popularity was clearly the key — and popularity defined in a very specific way.
It was not earned directly through talent, looks, personality or importance and involvement in organizations, but by the way these attributes translated into the number and frequency of dates.
These dates had to be highly visible, and with many different people, or they didn't count." Ken Myers summarizes this system, " catchwords hammered home, reinforced from all sides until they became the natural vocabulary.But, competitive dating was rising, partially due to the financial crises in the 1930s.13-15 million workers lost their jobs at the height of The Great Depression in 1933.The most important of these factors is the last…” For girls, desirability and popularity were the most important features for a girl to possess.Many girls would have flowers and notes sent from home to appear “in demand.” The girls who dated the most guys were considered the most popular as a date.After World War II the norms within the dating system began to change.