A dating system
is any systematic means of improving matchmaking
via rules or technology. It is a specialized meeting system
where the objective of the meeting, be it live or phone or chat based, is to go on a live date with someone, with usually romantic implications. Recently, "couple-dating" and "friend-dating" systems have also become popular, especially among those who met on dating systems and enjoy the interactions, but have settled down with mates.
The history of dating systems is closely tied to the history of technologies that support them. Since live dating systems or methods are usually not considered as separate from the matchmaking process, which often employs games or rules or rituals in many cultures, so these are discussed in more depth in that article.
A notable and recent live dating system that does not seem to have arisen in traditional matchmaking is speed dating, which relies to some degree on the transportation and communication facilities of a modern society, and reflects its accelerated pace of life.
These live dating systems do not typically impose a great deal of structure on the actual interaction between the individuals considering going on dates. This article is concerned with actual 'systems' that do more than simple introductions, and where interactions are often strongly structured, down to the details:
- "Computer dating" systems of later 20th century, especially popular in the 1960s and 1970s, before the rise of sophisticated phone and computer systems, gave customers forms that they filled out with important tolerances and preferences, which were "matched by computer" to determine "compatibility" of the two customers.
- "Video dating" systems of the 1980s and 1990s especially, where customers gave a performance on (typically VHS tape) video, which was viewable by other customers, usually in private, in the same facility. Some services would record and play back videos for men and women on alternate days to minimize the chance that customers would meet each other on the street.
- "Phone dating" systems of about the same vintage, where customers call a common voice mail or phone-chat server at a common local phone number, and are connected with other (reputed) singles, and typically charged by the minute as if it were a long-distance call (often a very expensive one). A key problem of such systems was that they were hard to differentiate from a phone porn service or "phone sex" where female operators are paid to arouse male customers, and have no intention of dating them, ever.
- Online dating services of the 1990s and today, which may incorporate a form-, video-, or audio-/phone-based component, integrating them into a single "profile" and providing multiple means to communicate (including the telephone).
There are also dating game shows, e.g. Blind Date, The 5th Wheel, The Bachelor, in which a high degree of support and aids are provided to individuals seeking dates. These are described more fully in an article on them alone, and in the related article on "reality game shows" that often include or motivate romantic episodes between players.
Singapore's largest dating service, Social Development Unit (SDU) is the world's only government-run dating system.
The concept of dating is also used in the business world and known as B2B Matchmaking, Business Speed Dating or Brokerage Events. In contradiction to virtual social networking platforms, real meetings between business people are the focus. Trade fair organisations e.g. find this concept an added value for their exhibitors, because it gives them the opportunity of advanced planned meetings.