May 12, 2016 6:12 AM EDT

In the age of sexting and tinder, it’s common to hear older generations bemoan the death of dating–especially compared with other decades, when it was de rigueur to meet for dinner and a movie. But did those “good old days” ever actually exist? In her new book, Labor of Love, author Moira Weigel argues that for as long as modern dating has existed in the U.S.–since the early 1900s, when young women left their homes for work in the outside world–there have been critics of the way it’s carried out. Early on, it was the meet-ups themselves; women who were treated to meals and shows were likened to prostitutes. By the ’50s and ’60s, parents were lamenting the decay of moral values as their kids were “parking” and going to “petting parties.” And yet people still managed to find happiness and romance, Weigel concludes, just as they will today: “Reports of the death of dating [have] been greatly exaggerated.”


This appears in the May 23, 2016 issue of TIME.

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