Everything you wrote is true, but the whole specter of HIV (the US AIDS epidemic peaked in 1995) kinda evened things out.
I was old enough to date in the 90s and even though I was always safe and largely monogamous, pretty much everything for the previous ten years was telling us that ANYONE we met or were attracted to could have HIV, which was a death sentence.
Imagine going to high school and seeing a sex-ed video about poor Jennifer, class president and all round wonderful person, who only had sex once with her equally wonderful boyfriend who “promised” her that he was also a virgin until…..
This was back when you couldn’t go to any event targeted towards young people that didn’t include some group handing out free condoms (Which, now that I think about it, why don’t we still do that today? I don’t think free condoms will ever be bad idea right?)
Plus even though we knew that safe sex prevented the spread if HIV, the AIDS crisis was still in the air so we weren’t nearly as confident about safe sex as we are now.
You think pre-date texting is awkward, try working up to the “Do you want to get tested” third-date conversation!
There are few things more awkward than telling someone in effect “I like you enough to want to have sex with you at some point in the immediate future, but I don’t know you well enough to determine whether or not sex with you is my safest option”.
And back then HIV tests took at least two weeks to get results! That’s two weeks of awkward conversation with someone in anticipation of results. Two weeks of trying to figure the appropriate level of affection to show, enough to maintain a holding pattern but not too much just in case a hasty retreat is required.
And god help you if either of you start losing interest or meet someone else during the the two week waiting period! Because now you have to decide whether to “stick it out” for the possibility of sex with someone you’re only maybe still into or start all over again with someone new.
Every generation has its problems, especially when it comes to romance. The concerns change, but the people/neuroses remain the same.