By the early 1950s, going steady had acquired a totally different meaning.It was no longer the way a marriageable couple signaled their deepening intentions.Instead, going steady was something twelve-year-olds could do, and something most fifteen-year-olds did do.
One example of this impression management comes from a 1938 article in where a Smith College senior advised incoming freshmen on how to cultivate an "image of popularity." She wrote, "During your first term, get home talent to ply you with letters, telegrams and invitations.
College men will think, ." She also suggested that you get your mom back home to send you flowers from time to time, again, to give the impression of popularity.
You had to rate in order to date, to date in order to rate.
By successfully maintaining this cycle, you became popular. So, that is the system in place prior to World War II.
Part 1: A Brief History of Dating and Courtship in America Let's turn our attention now to "dating" and the "date" itself. How did it become such an important part of our courtship system? According to cultural historian Beth Bailey, the word was probably originally used as a lower-class slang word for booking an appointment with a prostitute.