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What is Dating?

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.

In American English the phrase "X and Y are dating" can also mean that X and Y are in a exclusive relationship, or are courting. This must be inferred from the context.

Dating problems

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 seeking, 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. Such people run the risk of inflicting time-wasting, seduction, or, most severely, date rape. Experienced daters exercise caution and try to find opportunities to demonstrate their good faith.

Types of dates

Regular date: A man and a woman just meet each other at some place.

Double date: two couples meet for an activity.

Group date: an activity shared by two or more couples.

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.

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 vacation and are together during that time period.

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.

Mobile dating: Where text messages to and from a mobile 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.

Speed dating: Where a group of people get together for several hours in public; one is given a set amount of time to sit and talk to a particular person before moving on to the next.