Sex in the 90s
Dating Before Social Media, Smartphones, or Netflix and Chill
In the not-so-distant past, people hooked up differently. Dating was more offline, with the exception of a few tech-savvy people who used computers to chat with others. Cell phones were reserved for the financially privileged, and pagers were more widely used. We still relied heavily on landlines and old-fashioned snail mail. Dating sites were not the norm but the exception, and, if you felt adventurous, you might let a friend fix you up on a "blind" date or have a go with someone at a club or bar, where no one had a smartphone to stare at.
I tried this twice. Blind dating involves someone you know—like a co-worker, neighbour, friend—setting you up to meet someone new. It could be one of their friends, an acquaintance, or maybe the pizza delivery guy. You basically trust them to play match-maker. It might actually work, if your friend knows you well enough and takes it seriously. Sometimes it's lackluster or a nightmare.
In my experience, blind dates were good, but we were heading in opposite directions in life, so all ended well and amicably.
Bars and Night Clubs
Ah, the nightlife. It's more for random hookups than long-term relationships, but either one can be the result. It might happen through mutual friends: You meet up with a group of people, who know other people, and voila! There is an attraction to someone familiar or new. Maybe it's inebriation or maybe real romance. A few (or many) drinks later, you might exchange phone numbers (written on pen and paper). If you really liked them, hopefully they didn't give you a fake number, and a call to set up a date would follow.
The bar scene opened a lot of opportunities for one night stands and "NSA" (No Strings Attached) sex, too—often with the strangers you met on the club dance floor or with the guy or girl ordering a drink at the bar. Maybe someone buys you a drink or you order one for them. Sex might start in the washroom stall, at their place or yours. Of course, this was always a risk, especially with someone unfamiliar. If you have good friends, they will keep an eye on you and your drinks...
There are instances where people hooking up in clubs actually become an item. I met a married couple with kids who met in a bar. They seemed happy. It can happen!
A variation of the bar/club scene, only more familiar if you know most of the people. There are always a few new faces, and, chances are that one of them is single and looking for fun. If the party is wild enough, sex might happen right there with more participants than expected, but that's an entirely different experience deserving of a separate article...
These are fun to read if you have a twisted sense of humour. One standard line I recall in these ads was "I love intelligent conversation, candlelight dinners, and long walks on the beach." Personal ads were often buried in a small section of the classifieds, a section of your local newspaper where you could find job ads, things for sale, apartments for rent, and people looking for lost pets. If you found a personal ad, it was often regarded with caution, much in the same way people viewed internet dating, though this is changing rapidly.
I have never answered a personal ad, though I know someone who did. She met him once for coffee and became immediately suspicious when he asked for her address and details about her personal life. I'm glad she stopped seeing him right away.
Phone Chat Lines
This was used in the same way that cybersex is now. The only difference was you could conceal your appearance and no typing, just talking. Some people hook up this way or find someone for a serious relationship.
On a Serious Note: The "Scary" Side of the 90s...
Well, maybe I call it this for one specific reason: stalking. It wasn't taken as seriously back then and could use more seriousness now, particularly where the legal system and support for victims is concerned. A lot of things can go wrong with dating, especially if one person no longer wants to be in the relationship, yet the other does not take "no" for an answer. There are many other ways relationships can go horribly wrong, but I will stick with stalking here specifically.
Cyber-stalking was not a thing back then, as it is now. Stalking was literally physically showing up at your work, school, home and/or any place else you frequented. There was little that could be done, as technology was not as widespread as it is now. Cameras, security footage, and cell phones capture everything everywhere. Back then, you kept written notes, and, if your home phone had call display, you could track their calls...
Scary and serious, but that hasn't changed much, except for all the tech advances.
Dating will always be dating. Casual sex and hooking up has and will always be around. Every era has its nostalgic moments, from drive-in theaters and make-out spots to straightforward one night stands without any connection. The 90s are no exception, and, in many ways, they were a lot of fun, too!