This is a great question.  I, too, remember well the days before cell phones were an everyday part of our lives. Dating seemed simpler then, although it has never really been simple. Dating 30 years ago in your teens is quite different from trying to form romantic relationships today, especially following a long marriage and divorce or widowhood.

Clearly, one of the many things that has changed in the past 30 years is technology and its role in our lives.  Cell phones, portable computers and their newer version, tablets, are very much a part of our lives.  Cell phones in particular are both a convenience and a potentially intrusive force in our lives. Sometimes it seems like they use us more than we use them. A clear etiquette for their use in various public and social circumstances has not yet been well-developed so people handle their connectivity in many different ways.

I think the role of technology in our social and personal lives is becoming one of the aspects of potential compatibility and incompatibility within relationships. It is obviously not the fact of having a cell phone, but how we use it that determines a portion of our compatibility.  It is a legitimate topic of conversation with a dating partner you are interested in.

The modest consensus on cell phone etiquette that has emerged so far suggests that it is discourteous to answer non-urgent calls during a meal, conversation or activity with another person. A clear exception is when both people are equally comfortable with a norm of answering calls and texts regardless of the activity they are engaged in.

Most of this is contingent upon your personal preferences. If someone you are dating uses their cell in ways that really bug you, you need to bring the subject up in a straightforward but tactful way.  Express your opinions about the subject and see if your date is open to modifying her habits when you are spending time together.  If she isn’t interested in changing her habits, you may be better off finding a partner whose relationship with modern technology more closely matches yours.