WASHINGTON — Waltzing? It's in. Bedhopping? Out. Miss Manners etiquette? In. Raunchy locker room talk? Out.
Marriage? In. Non-commitment? It's sweet history.
Seems all that is left of the torrid sexual revolution is the faint smoke of candelit romance, one on one. Even rocker Linda Ronstadt has turned to vintage torch songs. What's going on?
"The greatest thing in the world is to be happy with one person and the worst thing is to have nobody," is how Butch Crawford, 38, sees the new dating game. The Washington salesman is twice-divorced.
"I don't need to be out chasing people. I would love to be happily married." Crawford is currently involved with a woman who lives down the street from him.
"I found her lost dog for her; it's true, swear to God," he says. "So I took back her little dog and we went out to dinner. Wonderful, huh? It's the cutest dog you've ever seen. I'd much rather meet someone this way. I don't do the singles bar scene."
Neither does Elyse Kroll, 31, who heads a New York public relations firm. Kroll's steady for the last 15 months has been a man eight years her junior who works in film production. She calls him her "first boyfriend. If this is what love is all about, this is my first one."
Her numerous fashion clients keep Kroll on a fast track, but she swears temptation never gets the best of her: "I like the one-on-one. There is continuity. There is support. This is the first time I have let myself get dependent, and I love it."
Before meeting her main man, Kroll remembers an endless shuffle of dating around. The whole process left her frustrated, she says. "It's a lot of work to get to know somebody. It's a lot of strain to be testing all the time. The point of love is that when it actually works, when you connect with someone, it's no work at all."
Contemporary singles exercise extreme caution before connecting these days. The word is loud and clear that a casual fling can lead to more than an empty feeling the following day--it can bring on disease.
"People are fed up with the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am scene," says Sylvia Harrison, a New York press agent in her mid-'40s. "The scare of herpes and the threat of AIDS had a lot to do with it.
"I see it around me--people are more into one another, and I don't mean physically," adds Harrison who was divorced three years ago. "People are taking more of an interest in having a serious relationship. I have friends in their '60s and friends in their '20s and I'm seeing this right across the board.
"You just don't go out with somebody with the idea that you're going to get laid anymore."
Looking to Get Serious
New York magazine's Strictly Personals are proof of the growing desire for one-man, one-woman equations. A spokeswoman for the publication attests that the 150 to 200 lovelorn who place new ads each week are "absolutely looking for serious relationships.
"These aren't ads that are discussing sexual specifics. It's generally upper-middle-class professionals who are looking for partners in life," she says. Since Strictly Personals was started in September, 1982, the letters have "gotten more creative," she remarks. "These people are very serious about finding a mate."
They must be. Four lines of copy cost $92, and if you've ever checked out the back section of New York magazine, you'll see that most people write big and pricey paragraphs detailing the partner of their dreams.
Jim Krause, 32, co-owner of a Dallas advertising agency, was successful in his quest without going the personals route. He admits he was "constantly searching--I wasn't sure for what" until he found Candace Green, his wife of four months and the publisher of a local magazine.
"She came in and tried to sell an ad for one of my clients," Krause remembers. "She didn't sell me the advertising, but she sold me on herself. Physically and mentally, she fit all the pictures of the ideal woman I've wanted to marry ever since I was young."
Marriage feels "great," claims the former man-about-town. "It's very lonely dating around, even if you're with different women constantly. Marriage is much more fulfilling. You can get some of the same euphoria in dating around; but with marriage, the euphoria lasts much longer and the lows aren't as low."
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 1.9 million people were married from January through September of 1984. That represents a 1% increase over that period the year before--and does not count the people entering one-on-one relationships outside marrieage.
Monogamy has even struck the campuses.
"When I was first in the fraternity four years ago, a lot of guys went out with a lot of different girls," remembers Jim Miller, 22, Sigma Nu president at UCLA. "In fact, if a guy in the house had one steady girlfriend, he'd get abused by the other guys."