Dating is any social activity performed as a pair or even a group with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as their partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. The word refers to the act of agreeing on a time and "date" when a pair can meet and engage in some social activity.
In many cultural traditions, dates are arranged by a third party, who may be a family member, an acquaintance, or a dedicated matchmaker. Recently matchmaking services have become popular. Although dating rules in Western popular culture have become more relaxed during the 20th century, there is considerable variation between individuals' values. For example, when the activity costs money, it has traditionally been the man's role to pay; in recent times the practice of "going Dutch" (splitting the expenses) has emerged. Traditional dating activities include sharing entertainment or a meal. In general, a person may date many different partners during the same time period in order to have the best chance of finding their most suitable available mate.
Types of dates
- Regular date: a couple meet for an activity.
- Double date: two couples meet for an activity.
- Group dating: an activity shared by two or more couples.
- Blind date: a date where the participants have not met each other personally before (although may have seen each other's pictures); usually set up by a third party or an internet dating service.
- Long Distance / Holidating: due to a long distance relationship, dating only when one, or both parties are on holiday or a big vacation and are together during that time period.
- Dating exclusively: when two people forming the couple do not allow each partner to go out on dates with third parties.
Systems for organizing dates
- Online dating: Instead of using a traditional matchmaker, online dating uses specifically targeted websites to meet new people.
- Speed dating: Where a group of people get together for several hours in a publt the predetermined time is asked to move and sit with someone else to repeat the process.
- Mobile dating/cell phone dating: Where text messages to and from a mobile/cell phone carrier are used to show interest in others on the system. Can be web-based or online dating as well depending on the company.
- Virtual dating: A combination of video game playing and dating, where users create avatars and spend time in virtual worlds in an attempt to meet other avatars with the purpose of meeting for potential dates.
- Singles events: Where a group of singles are brought together to take part in various events for the purposes of meeting new people. Events can include such things as parties, workshops and games.
Christian courtship is a system practiced by some Christian families where two people figure out if they are to get married without modern dating practices. Christians who participate in courtship generally believe dating is a means of impersonally "trying someone out" before building a more significant and meaningful relationship. There is an absence of sexual activities, or at the very least an honest attempt to avoid them. On rare occasions some may even refrain from kissing until their wedding day if their
(both people is essential) convictions lead them to do so.
The courtship is a period of time where the couple build a strong friendship along with the romantic relationship resulting in a strong, non-sexual intimacy between the two. The hope is to set a strong foundation (along with a true faith in God) for a life-long marriage. It is not a chaperoned time, although many may believe it to be.
Orthodox Jewish men and women usually meet through matchmakers in a process called a shidduch
, for the purpose of marriage. When Jewish men and women come of marriageable age, their parents usually turn to a matchmaker to help them find an appropriate mate for their children. With the advice of the matchmaker and the consent of the parents the young man and woman meet on a date. If they like each other they continue dating over the course of a few weeks. The decision to marry is made by the couple themselves. Usually the groom is no more than 5 years older than the bride. Marriage age ranges from 17-25, with 18-22 considered the norm.
- Sizer-Webb, Frances; Eleanor Noss DeBruyne; Linda Kelly DeBruyne (2000). Health: Making Life Choices.
- Havelin, Kate (2000). Dating: What Is a Healthy Relationship?. Capstone Press.