There was no singles problem until singles got so single-minded that they stopped wasting time with anyone ineligible. Before that, it was understood that one of society's main tasks was matchmaking. People with lifelong friendships and ties to local nonprofessional organizations did not have to fear that isolation would accompany retirement, old age, or losing a spouse. Overburdened householders could count on the assistance not only of their own extended families, but of the American tradition of neighborliness.
There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.
One reason that the task of inventing manners is so difficult is that etiquette is folk custom, and people have emotional ties to the forms of their youth. That is why there is such hostility between generations in times of rapid change; their manners being different, each feels affronted by the other, taking even the most surface choices for challenges.
Nowadays, we never allow ourselves the convenience of being temporarily unavailable, even to strangers. With telephone and beeper, people subject themselves to being instantly accessible to everyone at all times, and it is the person who refuses to be on call, rather than the importunate caller, who is considered rude.