The dating scene in Bangladesh has radically evolved with time. Only a few decades back, a quick glimpse from a balcony would sate a lover’s yearning to see their beloved. Whereas, nowadays with the number of communication options available – the sky is the limit! Obviously, changes like these take time. We take a look into the firsthand accounts of people growing up through the 50’s spanning to today to get a picture of how things progressed.

50s & 60s

Shamim Ahmed shares, “In our day the word ‘dating’ didn’t even exist. Women barely came out of their homes to meet men. There were very few ladies in universities, even they were engaged to be married or married already and schools were not co-education. But then if we liked anyone, we would have to inform our elders and marriage was the only option to get close to that person. Even weddings in those days were not structured like those of today’s – women had different designated areas where men were not usually allowed. I suppose today’s men are luckier than us.”
“Dating! What do you mean by dating?” exclaimed Marufa Anam. “The only proper way to unite a couple back then was to get them married. Romance began after marriage when the legally wedded couples were allowed to go to the cinema together or on vacations. My sisters and I were very fond of watching movies but my father was extremely conservative and so we had to sneak out to go to the cinema. Usually I went with my aunt; we would go together in a rickshaw and only visit cinema halls which had designated exclusive time for women. There was no chance of meeting strangers and that too – men!”

70s

According to Akhter Murshed, “The late 70’s were a great time. Women broke out from shackles of society and many joined universities. This, in turn, turned into a great opportunity for us, men. We met them in many places even though free mixing was looked down on. Dating, back then, meant having a cup of tea and chotpoti amongst friends.”
Laili Azam excitedly said, “Ah those days, meeting the opposite sex was a thrill. It wasn’t like today, we couldn’t just easily have a quiet conversation without strangers prying in on us from every nook and corner. However, since women took active participation in education, meeting the opposite sex became slightly easier. Women also began to meet their ‘Mr. Right’ at respective workplaces and dating would perhaps mean a cup of tea or coffee over regular conversation or letters and flowers being gifted in libraries.”

Cov-01

80s

Shiblee Ahmed said, “The 80’s were a golden time for dating. The best places to meet  your significant other were the rooftops of various sprouting buildings in the urban Bangladesh. Everyone would go up to their rooftops in the afternoon to meet the girls who were brave enough to show up. Everyone would put on their best clothes just to go to the roof. Yes, those days do seem a bit funny now!”
Yasmin Khan exclaimed, “Yes, those were the days, I would say. Men would put on their best outfits and stand in front of girls’ schools to get a quick glimpse of fair ladies and flirt with them. Some would get lucky and get the landline number from the girl of their choice and dating would mean spending hours on phone chitchatting about everything and nothing. I also remember how frantically my friends and I would get ready in the afternoon just as the clock struck 4 PM, much to the surprise of our parents. We would just sit and have tea in the balcony overlooking a passage with men playing cricket or just flirting back with us. Yes, those were the days of innocence and uncomplicated fun.”

90s

Shakil Ferdous said, “Dating was a respectable term back then. Dating would perhaps mean taking a girl out to a nice restaurant in the evening or a drive around the city. It was not like today, the restaurants were fewer in number. Today’s men are by far luckier then we were. We, the men, had to responsibly drop our lady loves back home within the stipulated time given by their parents, it was an era of chivalry and good manners.”

Shoria Akhter said, “I met my Mr. Right at a concert. We clicked instantly while discussing rock music. Our favorite band was Warfaze. We went to the concert with separate groups of friends and eventually got introduced to each other. As far as I remember, ‘dating’ meant we would go to the lakeside in Dhanmondi and have chotpoti or go on a long drive and get back to the city within sunset. Most of the trips included many friends going together, all couples of course.”

2000s to Present Day

Ayan Rabbi laughed, “Dating?! Now, why would I want to talk about my personal life? Ok. Let me be brief here, ‘dating’ would mean chilling at a friend’s place or a hangout joint, smoking shisha. That too, only with a girl I really liked!”

Shanila Rahman said, “Dating would mean going to a nice restaurant, getting each other nice gifts, going shopping with your beloved or watching a movie at home.”

Zayeed Fardeen explains, “Dating! That very word sounds so old. We don’t even use it anymore! I would probably hook up with a girl online and if I liked her then I’d go to a house party with her or skype all night.”

Ariqa Farzad said, “If I liked any guy a bit too much then I would probably ask him to hang out with me and my friends at a lounge. If we were physically apart we would Facebook or Whatsapp each other all the time and if we were together at best we would end up ‘addafying’ at someone’s place or crash a party.”

*** All names have been changed to protect identities