The Godfather, courtship rituals, and modern dating

Over the last several decades, our society has rejected old courtship rituals in favor of personal freedom. However, it seems obvious to me now that the old rituals, that involved family members input and certain social norms regarding sex and childbearing, served to facilitate trust. I say this because there is no longer any mechanism that signals trust–we have no idea if we can trust somebody that we might want to date.

The old courtship rituals that involved family members’ input regarding dating partners served a trust-generation, trust-communication, trust-signalling function, it seems to me. It was like a third-party assurance service. I am studying financial statement auditing right now, which has prompted this line of reasoning. I am thinking of Michael Corleone in the Godfather (the film, not the book), and his courtship with Apollonia. Through that gradual courtship process, trust could develop between them. Presumably, either could back out at any time before the marriage, without losing face.

We have no such mechanism in the modern dating world. By abolishing the old courtship rituals, did we abolish assurance services? Online dating has not replaced that function, assuming it existed. As far as I can tell, online dating has one positive feature, and only one: it increases the size of the dating pool. This is a very important function for older adults, as the dating pool shrinks dramatically as we age. But online dating websites don’t help with the generation of trust. For example, what might happen if there was some way to track and to make public the number of times somebody “ghosted” somebody else? This would increase trust, since it would reduce the incentive to “ghost,” thereby reducing “ghosting.” At least, that is what makes sense to me.

Imagine Michael Corleone “ghosting” Apollonia, and what would have happened to his reputation in that geographic area of Italy. On the flip side, back in the United States, he DID “ghost” Kay, then reemerged later (aka, “submarined”). That didn’t work out very well for either of them.

What do you think? How is trust created/verified in the modern dating world?


Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I originally started writing here to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I gradually started writing about the Catholic faith, and the blog probably is more of that at this point. However, there is overlap between the two, since the "shape" of the family is a triangle, which is a reflection of the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.

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