Dating (activity)

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 a 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

Systems for organizing dates

Dating problems and misunderstandings

When individuals use the framework of dating for purposes other than assessing their date's suitability for them, misunderstandings can arise. One or both partners may initiate or accept dating invitations due to peer pressure, attention, a desire to escape from a social environment which they find stifling, a desire for acceptance, or a desire to humiliate; these motives can be strong enough to cause the person to deceive themselves and others when challenged, claiming and believing that they are mainly acting in good faith. This can lead to being "stood up".

These problems have led to a number of local dating coaches springing up around USA. Dating Coach teaches face to face or over the phone how to interact with opposite gender and improve dating skills. It seems that some specialize in coaching men, some specialize in coaching women, and some coach both.


"Biblical" courtship

Biblical courtship is a system practiced by a minority of Christian families, mainly in the USA, where dates are chaperoned and the dating relationship is exclusive and may be vetoed by either of the courting parties or by any of their parents. Once the male declares his feelings to the father and an approval is reached, the male and the female can begin the process of getting to know each other on their chaperoned dates. The purpose of the system is to encourage lasting marriages. Despite its name, there are varying opinions as to the degree that this practice either reflects biblical practices or complies with biblical doctrines, or even the extent to which it constitutes "courtship".


Orthodox Jewish men and women usually meet through matchmakers in a process called a shidduch, but the decision to marry involves the mutual consent of the couple and of the parents. 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. No custom encourages an older man marrying a young woman.


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