* 1. In Chaucer’s Trolius and Criseyde, young Troilus wants to be “set up” with Criseyde, whom he has only seen and does not know. He is desperate to get to know her, based only on having briefly seen her face. Enter Pandarus, a somewhat shifty figure who is willing to set up a meeting between the two for unknown reasons. To what degree can modern/online dating/dating services be like this?

* 2. To begin with, Troilus makes a lot of fun of people in love or looking for love, and how seriously they take all of it. Once he’s fallen for Criseyde, though, he is deadly serious, entirely consumed by it, and willing to try whatever Pandarus suggests. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 3. Before Pandarus sets Troilus up with a meeting with Criseyde, Troilus is lying around, deeply depressed, sighing, groaning and feeling sorry for himself for days. He doesn’t know how to talk to girls himself. Then, once Pandarus has helped him make contact with Criseyde, Troilus falls back into the same lying around sighing thing whenever he’s kept waiting too long for a message from her. In fact, for much of the poem, Troilus and Crisedye find themselves spending more time dealing with Pandarus (the go-between) than with each other. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 4. There is a veil of secrecy and discretion over each meeting of Troilus and Criseyde. Friends and family are kept out of it. It’s just Troilus and Criseyde, and Pandarus the go-between, who are involved. Much of this is to try to preserve their reputations (mainly Criseyde’s) from accusations of sleeping around. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 5. Spoilers: The poem ends with Criseyde breaking Troilus' heart. The Lord of Chambrillac, having read Troilus and Criseyde, said the poem taught him “to refrain from setting [his] heart in one place only,” meaning one shouldn’t date only one person at a time. Duc de Berry said that the wisest strategy was to go with dating six or eight people at a time. He also recommended the approach of being willing to say one thing with the full intention of doing another. To what degree can modern/online dating be about people who think like this?

* 6. By day, Troilus is a son of Priam, the king of Troy, and is a skilled, confident warrior, deadly to face in battle. Criseyde is a widowed noblewoman. But, the prospect of going on a date turns Troilus into a snivelling, confused, stammering teenager who forgets his carefully-rehearsed words and actually faints outright when trying to act like a smooth lover with Criseyde. He thoroughly embarrasses himself. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 7. The importance of written communication which has the perfect tone is important to Troilus, who goes for overblown eloquence and otherwise trying to sound smart and witty in his textual communications with Criseyde. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 8. The medieval “courtly love” thing was a kind of game, with each trying to discern how interested and how serious the other party was before going any farther down that road. Some people were just having fun with no intent of pursuing anything, and others were very serious. One had to pay close attention. There were polite compliments and playful joking/flirting on the one hand, but there could also be hints of a more serious intent (romantic or sexual) tossed into social interaction as well. One had to be very socially attuned to not misread signs. Richard F. Green says the whole thing had about it “a spirit of self-conscious play.” To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 9. In medieval tradition, romantic interactions were supposed to be about playful talk that did not get too serious and sincere, nor remain too distant and formal. Being too earnest and eager on the one hand, or too smug, slick and rehearsed on the other both sounded equally bad. Both parties were gauging how honest, sincere, up front and trust-worthy the other person was, but also how socially adept and skilled at "playing the game" they were. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 10. In order to beg for some more communication, a meet up, or actual sex with someone, a medieval lover might very well play the pity or guilt card and claim that s/he really needed this, or else it would result in depression, deep loneliness, melancholy, blue balls, or in extreme cases, sickness, suicide and death. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 11. In Troilus and Criseyde, Pandarus takes advantage of heavy rain to say Criseyde might as well “just stay over” at his house, without really being honest about the fact that he’s going to encourage Troilus to push for a sexual encounter once she’s lying down. Troilus does this.  It’s a ploy, and it works.  Criseyde doesn't seem too surprised, really, and doesn't mind, nor does she make it easy for Troilus. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 12. Needless to say, an arrangement by this kind of go-between could certainly be used by unscrupulous men to prey on a series of women, getting them, in the words of Chaucer, “like a sparrow hawk” with a sparrow in its claws. Women had to watch out for signs that this might have been what was going. Gretchen Mieszkowski wrote an entire book about women in 45 medieval love poems getting “trapped” by men. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 13. In Troilus and Criseyde, although bold promises that the two would maintain their connection were sworn, there was still a great fear of being “ghosted” by the other person, and eventually this is exactly what happens to Troilus, once Criseyde meets another man. She doesn’t so much as let Troilus know what’s happened, but simply doesn’t show up one day. Lovelorn, Troilus throws himself into his work (the Trojan War) with an obvious death wish. To what degree can modern/online dating be like this?

* 14. Pandarus is quick to say that he’s not a pimp and Criseyde is therefore not a prostitute. He would be a pimp, he feels, if he were making money or gaining fame for his go-between services, and if sex were guaranteed, rather than negotiable by both parties. Troilus agrees. But having him as go-between does seem sort of weird and artificial anyway. To what degree is modern/online dating/Tinder like Pandarus?

* 15. Do you have any parting thoughts on modern/online dating and dating services?

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