The first thing to note is that things are not actually so bad as they seem. Dating was never an especially good or effective way of supporting marriage, and a dating culture in the long run gets you precisely the kind of culture we now have. There is much to be said for it, perhaps, but there's a reason phrases like 'treadmill' and 'meat market' are associated with it. Dating is a high-expense, high-difficulty set of interactions on a free market; that dating culture breaks down into something like a hook-up culture is no more surprising than full-service gas stations vanishing away in favor of self-serve. We know how we got here, and dating was a lot of it. Dating is just a late moment in the negotiating-for-good-bargains stage of the breakdown; on its own it naturally will become anything-harmless-goes, because anything-harmless-goes is just what you get when even what counts as a good bargain becomes negotiable, and there's nothing in the practice that can prevent that shift forever. For one thing, the deterioration comes with real benefits. Dating culture is not as people-friendly as Esolen makes it out to be. It has a nasty keep-up-with-the-Joneses side, it demands a truly extraordinary amount from people, and it can easily devolve into mind-numbingly drab monotony. It's a lot of work to get what often seems to come more by luck than by any of the actual work you've done. And it inevitably suffers by comparison. People look upstream to Austenesque visions of earlier stages, where negotiating for good bargains was still more sharply bound by concerns of familial and sexual honor, and dating, while freer, looks like cheap imitation; they look downstream to the consensual market open for all, and dating, while safer, looks stifling and arbitrary. Unless conditions are just right, dating culture will always start looking like a bad compromise. The primary problem with the state in which we are increasingly finding ourselves, the anything-harmless-goes stage, is not that it's not dating, but that anything-harmless-goes inevitably breaks down as people find they cannot agree on what's really harmless. And then people start trying to keep order by intimidation and manipulation, because that's all that's really left. We know this is how it all goes down, and we've always known that this is how it works, because these tendencies are already found in every society, just in different proportions and under different conditions.
Dating, in short, is a low standard. For that matter, Austenesque Regency marriages are a low standard, for reasons Austen herself depicts quite clearly. The only relations between the sexes that matter are relations based on pursuit of virtue, which are both more free and more honorable than all the other options on the table. And the only possible thing that you can do to bring those about is to strive for virtue yourself and show proper respect for the particular cases you happen to come across in others. Everything else is arbitrary convention and the Goddess Fortune.
Esolen's piece does contemplate action, but it is not of this kind:
So then—I call upon every parish in the United States to do the sweet and simple and ordinary things. Not everybody can speak learnedly about church architecture. Not everybody wants to hear about that. Not everybody can speak learnedly about grace and free will. Not everybody wants to hear about that. But everybody can learn to sing, everybody can learn to dance, everybody can watch a good movie, everybody likes a picnic, or a hike, or a trip to the beach, or a goofy time at the bowling alley, or a softball game, or an ice cream social, or coffee and tea and doughnuts. It is not good for the man to be alone—or the woman!
Which is nice in its own way, but stops short of actually being a practicable plan, since it is basically the advice that if you want to form a marriage-friendly communities you should form communities. True. But, of course, that is already just another way of stating the whole difficulty. Something must be done! Well, yes.