Dating is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. While the term has several senses, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple.

The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country. The most common sense is two people trying out a relationship and exploring whether they're compatible by going out together in public as a couple, and who may or may not yet be having sexual relations, and this period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement or marriage.[1][2]


On the reproductive spectrum between tournament species, in which males compete fiercely for reproductive privileges with females, and pair bond arrangements, in which a male and female will bond for life, humans are somewhat in the middle, according to neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky.[3] Humans form pair bonds but there is the possibility of cheating or changing partners. The institution marking a male-female bond has generally been known as marriage, and in most societies, and during much of human history, marriages were arranged by parents and older relatives with the goal not being love but "economic stability and political alliances," according to anthropologists.[4] During much of human history when men were the dominant sex in a system of patriarchy, women "connived to trade beauty and sex for affluence and status," according to columnist Maureen Dowd.[5] Men dominated women; while men and women formed pair-bonds, wives were sometimes seen as a form of property serving the function of reproduction. Communities exerted pressure on people to form pair-bonds in places such as Europe; in China, according to sociologist Tang Can, society "demanded people get married before having a sexual relationship."[6]

Romeo and Juliet dated, but it did not end well.
Painting by Sir Frank Dicksee

In the Middle Ages in Europe, weddings were seen as business arrangements between families, while romance was something that happened outside of marriage discreetly, such as covert meetings.[7] The 12th-century book The Art of Courtly Love advised that "True love can have no place between husband and wife."[7] Clandestine meetings were the precursors to today's dating, according to one writer in The Guardian.[7] A few centuries ago, dating "evolved out of a courtship ritual where young women entertained gentleman callers, usually in the home, under the watchful eye of a chaperone."[8] Since about 1700, however, according to professor David Christian of Macquarie University in Australia, a new worldwide movement described as the "empowerment of the individual" took hold, leading to the emancipation of women and the equality of individuals. Men and women became more equal politically, financially, socially in many nations. Women earned the right to vote and own property and equal treatment by the law; and these changes had profound impacts on the relations between men and women, including dating. Among young people, initially among the lower classes, whose homes were often not "suitable for entertaining", dating in public places became more prominent, with the sense that a couple would go out to a movie or dinner with the expectation that this might ultimately lead to a relationship "the capstone of which was marriage."[8] Advice for women was to often "play hard to get."[9] Traditional dating activities included entertainment or a meal, and happened in that portion of a person's life before marrying, between the teen-aged years and early thirties; in 1851 in Britain, the average age of people getting married was 24 and it stayed there, dipping slightly in the 1950s, before rising to the current age of 29.[10]

Technology has played a huge role in dating. The telephone enabled dates to be arranged without face-to-face contact;[11] the automobile extended the range of dating as well as back-seat sexual exploration. In the mid twentieth century, the advent of birth control as well as safer procedures for abortion changed the equation considerably, and there was less pressure to marry as a means for satisfying sexual urges. New types of relationships formed; it was possible for people to live together without marrying and without having to deal with children. Today dates in Australia and elsewhere are arranged by text messaging.[12]

Due to the wider availability of information about traditionally secretive issues, individuals became open about their interest in sexuality both in form of dating, language and dress. Alternative arrangements such as homosexuality became more accepted. In Britain, it used to be an unwritten duty for couples to introduce single people to each other by inviting them to parties and meals, but this practice happens less and less.[13]

In an informal survey by USA Today in 2010, 300 persons responded to an inquiry about how they met, and the results suggested that the Internet was becoming an increasingly important tool for arranging dates which is eroding, to some extent, the importance of family, neighbors, and co-workers.[14] People are becoming increasingly mobile worldwide, and are less likely to find a permanent job and settle in one town but change jobs and towns with increasing frequency; as a result, they're somewhat removed from traditional social networks.[15]


And the only rule is that there are no rules.
—Kira Cochrane[16]

Although dating etiquette has become more relaxed during the twentieth and twenty first century, there are considerable differences between social and personal values. Each culture has its particular patterns. For example, when an activity costs money (such as a movie or a meal), the man was expected to pay, particularly on the first date, in countries like the United States.[17] More recently the practice of "going Dutch" (splitting the expenses) has become more common and acceptable. Conversely, among some cultures, such as the Karen people in Burma and Thailand, women are expected to write love poetry and give gifts to win over the man.[18] Frequency of dating varies by person and situation; among single persons actively seeking partners, 36% had been on no dates in the past three months, 13% had one date, 22% had two to four dates and 25% had five or more dates, according to a 2005 U.S. survey.[19] While equality between the sexes has changed dating, men are generally expected to ask women out and pay for the first date.[20]

Unusual circumstances such as a river splashdown can bring couples together, including a man and woman aboard this flight.

Dating can be stressful, particularly since one is being evaluated while conducting an evaluation oneself, and some Internet email chatters have delayed meeting potential mates because of the stress factor of a romantic encounter with a stranger.[21] It is a tough evaluation, and almost all daters will run into rejection or be ignored, but dating advisers counsel not to take it personally.[21] There is a general tendency to avoid confrontations when trying to end a dating relationship; in Britain, 30% of all relationships are ended face-to-face, suggesting 70% are ended by not returning emails or phone calls, or by letter.[22] Traumatic events can sometimes cause people to start dating; for example, two passengers aboard US Airways Flight 1549, which crashed in the Hudson River but without loss of life, began dating afterwards.[23]

Flirting is generally part of dating. One study in 2010 of 5,100 people suggested that people have one of five basic "flirting styles": physical, traditional, polite, sincere and playful, and researchers advised that it helps to understand what one's natural style is.[24] Judi James in The Guardian advises daters:

The copulatory gaze, looking lengthily at a new possible partner, brings you straight into a sparring scenario; you will stare for two to three seconds when you first spy each other, then look down or away before bringing your eyes in sync again. This may be combined with displacement gestures, small repetitive fiddles that signal a desire to speed things up and make contact. When approaching a stranger you want to impress, exude confidence in your stance, even if you're on edge. Pull up to your full height in a subtle chest-thrust pose, which arches your back, puffs out your upper body and pushes out your buttocks. Roll your shoulders back and down and relax your facial expression.
—Judi James, [25]
A nature walk can be an ideal setting for a second or third date, like this one outside Clevedon, New Zealand. First dates should be in public places, generally, according to some advisors, particularly if the couple doesn't know each other well.

Dating advisers distinguish between the first date and subsequent dates. The first one should be simple such as going for coffee or after-dinner drinks, since a quick getaway may be necessary.[26] Second dates can be more expensive and adventurous such as a dance or craft class.[26]

Meeting places

Ballroom dancing is one way to get to know somebody on a date.

There are numerous ways to meet dates, including blind dates, classified ads, dating websites, hobbies, holidays, office romance, social networking, speed dating, and others.[27] A Pew study in 2005 examined Internet users in long-term relationships including marriage found many met by contacts at work or school.[28] The survey found that 55% of relationship-seeking singles agreed with that it was "difficult to meet people where they live."[29] One writer suggested that meeting possible partners was easier in pedestrian-oriented cities such as Berlin or Barcelona rather than Los Angeles since there were more chances for face-to-face contact.[30] Work is a common place to meet potential spouses, although there are some indications that the Internet is overtaking the workplace as an introduction venue.[31] Some couples met because they lived in the same building and shared a common bathroom.[32] Hobbies can be an informal way for people to meet.[33] In Britain, one in five marry a co-worker; half of all workplace romances end within three months.[34] In India, there are incidents of people meeting future spouses in the workplace.[35] One drawback of office dating is that a bad date can lead to "workplace awkwardness".[36]

Men versus women

The difference in expectation of a date in the male/female view of dating is quite marked and clearly shown by the public advice disseminated by popular media like magazines, which is in stark contrast. For both sexes, the idea of being in love can be scary; one said "being really intimate with someone in a committed sense is kind of threatening" and described love as "the most terrifying thing."[37] In her Psychology Today column, research scientist, sex columnist and book author Dr. Debby Herbenick compared it to a roller coaster:

There's something wonderful, I think, about taking chances on love and sex. ... Going out on a limb can be roller-coaster scary because none of us want to be rejected or to have our heart broken. But so what if that happens? I, for one, would rather fall flat on my face as I serenade my partner (off-key and all) in a bikini and a short little pool skirt than sit on the edge of the pool, dipping my toes in silence.

At the same time, there are strong drives while the agendas of men and women can be conflicting:

  • Heterosexual men often seek women based on beauty and youth.[39][40] Psychology researchers at the University of Michigan suggested that men prefer women who seem to be "malleable and awed", and prefer younger women with subordinate jobs such as secretaries and assistants and fact-checkers rather than executive-type women.[41] Online dating patterns confirm that men are more likely to initiate online exchanges (over 75%) and are less choosy, seek younger women, and "cast a wide net".[42]
  • Heterosexual women often seek well-educated men who are their age or older with high-paying jobs, according to one account.[39] Evolutionary psychology suggests that "women are the choosier of the genders" since "reproduction is a much larger investment for women" who have "more to lose by making bad choices."[43] Educated women in many countries including Italy and Russia and the United States often find it difficult to have a career as well as raise a family; many delay finding a mate and having children and wonder if they're too accomplished that they won't be as appealing to men.[41] Writer Danielle Crittenden in her book What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us argued that having both a career and family was taxing and stressful for women, and she made a case that the ideal path for women was to marry early in their twenties when their relative beauty permitted them to find a solid marriage bargain and choose from a large pool of available men, have children, and return to the work world when they were in their early thirties with kids in school; but Crittenden agrees splitting up the career path with a ten year baby-raising hiatus poses difficulties as well.[44] Columnist Maureen Dowd quoted comedian Bill Maher on the subject of differing dating agendas between men and women: "Women get in relationships because they want somebody to talk to -- men want women to shut up."[45] Dowd quoted poet Dorothy Parker on the subject of romance:
Dorothy Parker
By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying -
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
—Dorothy Parker, [46]

Advice and strategies

Dating coach counseling a client at a nightclub

Dating can be confusing, difficult, fun, challenging, unpredictable, and there is a wealth of tips and advice, sometimes contradictory, on the web and in books and elsewhere. Dating adviser Heidi Banks wrote:

There is truly only one real danger that we must concern ourselves with and that is closing our hearts to the possibility that love exists.
  • There are numerous tips for successful flirting, including body language cues such as copying another's posture or mirroring, sending shyness signals interspersed with confidence signals such as standing up straight and maintaining eye contact.[48] Take a peek at their mouth and then look at their eyes to suggest kissing, according to Judi James; lowering the vocal tone can work as "subliminal advertising" for later sweet-nothings.[49] Men can exaggerate their height[42] and soften their facial expression.[50] The act of smoking outside while flirting has been termed smirting.[27]
  • Humor can be used, but requires caution, according to dating expert Ron Louis, particularly if it involves sexual innuendo; Louis in his book How to Succeed with Women argues against using self-deprecatory humor if it causes a falling-off of prestige. However, director Blake Edwards joked in parties about the persona of film star Julie Andrews, by saying that her "endlessly cheerful governess" image from movies such as Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music gave her the image of possibly having "lilacs for pubic hair";[51] Andrews appreciated his humor, sent him lilacs, married him, and the couple stayed together for 41 years.[51]
  • Date often. Advice guidelines often suggest dating multiple times; one writer suggested at least 34 dates with different people before finding a partner.[52]
  • Keep trying; don't get discouraged.[53]
  • Choose cities with more pedestrians such as Berlin, London, Melbourne, Barcelona or New York.[30]
  • Online dating tips include: be authentic, accurately represent your relationship status, don't talk about your ex or divorce or financial settlements, get organized, post recent photos and create a terrific profile.[54] Guardian writer Marc Zakian advises e-flirting email messages to be "friendly, funny and flattering" since it's hard to estimate what people are thinking since you can't see their faces, but don't reveal too much or "write a tome" and don't be too eager to meet right away.[55] But Zakian advised not to wait too long to meet someone otherwise there was a risk of falling in love without first meeting them or seeing what they look like.[55] When an online dater isn't interested in somebody else, an unwritten rule is that it's acceptable to "ignore mail from people who don't interest you" since it's difficult writing somebody that they're unsuitable to you as a potential partner in a way which doesn't hurt their feelings.[56] Any kind of emailed reply, even a rejection, may trigger a reply in kind, and end up wasting one's time.[57]


Advice for men varies by culture and includes such issues as dressing neatly, being polite and positive, giving gifts, avoiding self-deprecatory humor, paying attention to your partner, and so forth. Some dating advisors offer a complete plan about how to approach and attract women which includes guidelines about what to wear, how to act, make love, and how to be confident. One dating adviser suggested that smart men have a tougher time dating, since they're more focused on personal achievements and expect love based on their personal academic prowess; sometimes they fail to consider less intelligent women as possible mates,[58] and often lack romantic skills.[59] One advised "quit thinking girls should like you because you're smart" and commented "a woman will like you based on how you make her feel ... so make her feel stuff - preferably good stuff."[59] There is disagreement about how much of a financial role men should play in dating. One view is that men should pay for the dates, particularly for the first date;[60] a contrary view is that paying for dates is equivalent to trying to "buy your way into a woman's favor" and is counterproductive.[61] There is stronger sentiment that men should take the initiative in dating, and not let a fear of rejection prevent them from asking women out on dates.[61]. There are now more than 500 businesses worldwide that offer dating coach services -- with almost 350 of those operating in the U.S. And the number of these businesses has surged since 2005 [62]


In 1995 the book The Rules appeared. Columnist Maureen Dowd described it as a "dating bible" encouraging women to play "prefeminist mind games" such as "don't stay on the phone for more than 10 minutes" and "when you're with a man you like, be quiet and mysterious, act ladylike, cross your legs and smile" and to appear "busy and important."[63] Women can return to "hunting their quarry" but women are advised to play elaborate games to make men think that the men are the hunters when they're not.[64] British writer Kira Cochrane of The Guardian found the book The Rules to be confining since it urged women to "laugh at all their date's jokes", never ask a man to dance, and appear "challenging" since "men are born to respond to challenge."[65] Cochrane's problems with rules were that they relied on "objectionable, outdated notions of masculinity and femininity" and urge people to suppress their gut instinct, and they "make a game and a chore out of something that should be natural and fun and overwhelming."[16] But writer Bibi van der Zee, initially skeptical of the advice, tried it and found it made the men she dated "keener" to keep going out with her; she found herself to be "calm, unflappable" and, based on the advice, she would leave early on a date, appear busy, not phone him back.[66] While she worried about appearing to be a "game-playing bitch", she was surprised that the strategy worked; she married and became known to her friends as The Rules Girl.[66]

Christian Carter in Paris Woman Journal counsels women to avoid making mistakes with men, such as trying to convince him to love you, expecting a relationship to make you happy, misreading men, and sharing deep feelings too soon.[67]

Anthropologist Helen Fisher in 2008

Anthropologist Helen Fisher suggests dating is a game designed to "impress and capture" and it's not about "honesty" but "novelty", "excitement" and even "danger" are needed to boost dopamine levels in the brain.[64]

Stranger danger

Since people dating often don't know each other well, there's the risk of violence, including date rape. According to one report, there was a 10% chance of violence between students happening between a boyfriend and girlfriend, sometimes described as "intimate partner violence", over a 12–month period.[68] Another estimate was that 20% of U.S. high school girls aged 14–18 were "hit, slapped, shoved or forced into sexual activity".[69] There is evidence that violence while dating isn't limited to any one culture or group or religion, but that it remains an issue in different countries.[70] It is usually the female person who is the victim, but there have been cases where males have been hurt as well. Sara McCorquodale suggests that women meeting strangers on dates meet initially in busy public places, share details of upcoming dates with friends or family so they know where you'll be and who you'll be with, avoid revealing one's surname or address, and conducting searches on them on the Internet prior to the date.[71] One advisor suggested: Don't leave drinks unattended; have an exit plan if things go badly; and ask a friend to call you on your cell phone an hour into the date to ask how it's going.[71] In some regions of the world, such as Chechnya, bride-stealing is fairly common, enough to provoke leader Ramzan Kadyrov to urge young men to use persuasion instead.[72] Kadyrov advised:

If you explain beautifully, a woman does not look to see whether you are handsome or not -- but listens more, so you can win her heart. It's easy to win her heart. That is why I advise our boys to read stories and watch movies more and to learn more beautiful phrases to tell girls.
—Ramzan Kadyrov, 2010, [72]

Friend zone

If a dating relation evolves into a platonic non-sexual union, it is sometimes termed the friend zone:

When a guy agrees to be friends, he's forced to stifle his attraction while regularly seeing and talking to the woman he's attracted to. She discusses her love life and has the audacity to ask his advice on it. He performs occasional "manly" household and automotive favors for the woman. Essentially, he does everything a boyfriend would do--without the benefits.
—Gina B., Chicago Tribune, 2007, [73]

Dating guru Ali Binazir wrote "most guys would rather be on the surface of Mercury getting zapped by cosmic rays than being exiled to Justfriendistan."[74] Other advisers such as Ron Louis suggest that a man can avoid the zone by maintaining sexual tension, possibly by touching a woman briefly, once or twice, in a permitted area such as a shoulder or elbow.[75][76] There is agreement that once a relation has become friend-only, that it is difficult for intimacy to develop.

Dating worldwide

A Japanese couple holding hands on the beach

Dating customs and habits vary considerably throughout the world. The average duration of courtship before proceeding to engagement or marriage varies considerably throughout the world.[77]



One Ethiopian writer described a couple, when dating, as happy, at parties and movies and recreation centers and swimming pools, while they appeared to be less so after being married; still the writer thought marriage was the "lesser of two evils" when compared with the single life.[78] Marriages link families in Ethiopia since the dowry paid by the family of the bride is often significant financially.[79] According to one source, there are four ways that marriage can happen in Ethiopia: (1) arranged marriage, when well-respected elders are sent to the girl's family on behalf of the boy's family; (2) courtship or dating after a friendly meeting between boy and girl such as at a market place or holiday where there's dancing; (3) abduction, such as during a blood feud between families; (4) inheritance.[79]

Finding a wife is not easy for a Nyangatom boy. He has to build his own house, store lots of tobacco and dry coffee leaves for the girl's parents and have many cows and goats. ... If the girl is from a wealthy family the dowry given to her parents is worth about 200 to 500 cows, about 1,000 sheep or goats, five camels and three rifles.


There are reports that guys are asking out girls for dates by text messaging.[12] A recent study revealed that 50% of Australians agreed it was permissible to request a date via a text message but not acceptable to break up with them this way.[12] Flirting while texting, dubbed flirtext, was more likely to be done by girls after a relationship was started.[12] A survey of newspaper readers suggested it was time to abandon the "old fashioned rule" of men paying for the first date, based on women's greater earning capacity.[80] A dating show on TV features three couples who live under one roof, but who can only have contact in a "specially created dark room", and the show is scheduled to be hosted by Miss Australia model Laura Dundovic.[81]


Asia is a mix of traditional approaches with involvement by parents and extended families such as arranged marriages as well as modern dating. In many cultural traditions, including some in South Asia,[82] and the Middle East[83] and to some extent East Asia, as in the case of Omiai in Japan and the similar "Xiangqin" (相親) practiced in the Greater China Area, a date may be arranged by a third party, who may be a family member, acquaintance, or professional matchmaker.


Patterns of dating are changing in China, with increased modernization bumping into traditional ways.

One report in China Daily suggests that dating for Chinese university women is "difficult" and "takes work" and steals time away from academic advancement, and places women in a precarious position of having to balance personal success against traditional Chinese relationships.[84] Women have high standards for men they seek, but also worry that their academic credentials may "scare away more traditional Chinese men."[84] It is difficult finding places to have privacy, since many dormitory rooms have eight or more pupils in one suite.[84] And dating in restaurants can be expensive.[84] One commentator noted: "American couples drink and dance together. But in China, we study together."[84] Chinese writer Lao Wai suggested that singles in China are more likely to consider background and nationality as prime considerations about whom to date.[1] Professional single women can choose to wait:

Like other women in my social circle, I have certain demands for a potential mate. He doesn't have to make much more than I do, but he must be doing at least as well as I am, and has to be compatible with me, both morally and spiritually ... He should also own an apartment instead of us buying one together. Remember what Virginia Wolf said? Every woman should have a room of her own.
—Wei Liu, 45, single, broadcaster, in 2005, [6]
Actress Shu Qi starred in the 2008 movie If you are the one

The game show If You Are the One, titled after Chinese personal ads, featured provocative contestants making sexual allusions and the show reportedly ran afoul of authorities and had to change its approach.[85] The two-host format involves a panel of 24 single women questioning a man to decide if he'll remain on the show; if he survives, he can choose a girl to date; the show gained notoriety for controversial remarks and opinions such as model Ma Nuo saying she'd prefer to "weep in a BMW than laugh on a bike", who was later banned from making appearances.[86]

A new format of Internet "QQ" chat rooms is gaining ground against so-called "traditional dating agencies" in Changsha (Hunan Province); the QQ rooms have 20,000 members, and service is much less expensive than dating agencies which can charge 100 to 200 yuan ($13 to $26 USD) per introduction.[87] Internet dating, with computer-assisted matchmaking, is becoming more prevalent; one site supposedly has 23 million registered users.[88] Speed dating has come to Shanghai and other cities.[89][90] Worldwide online matchmakers have explored entering the Chinese market via partnerships or acquisitions.[91]

There are conflicting reports about dating in China's capital city. One account suggests that the dating scene in Beijing is "sad" with particular difficulties for expatriate Chinese women hoping to find romance.[92] One explanation was that there are more native Chinese women, who seem to be preferred by Chinese men, and that expat women are seen as "foreigners" by comparison.[92] According to the 2006 report, expat Chinese men have better luck in the Beijing dating scene.[92] A different report, however, suggested that Chinese men preferred Western women who they consider to be more independent, less girlish, and more straightforward than Chinese women.[93] Another account suggested that western women in Beijing seem invisible and have trouble attracting Chinese men.[94]

Each year November 11 has become an unofficial holiday[95] known as China's Singles' Day when singles are encouraged to make an extra effort to find a partner.[96] Worried parents of unmarried children often arrange dates for their offspring on this day as well as others.[96] Before the day approaches, thousands of college students and young workers post messages describing their plans for this day. Why November 11? In Arabic numerals, the day looks like "1111", that is, "like four single people standing together," and there was speculation that it originated in the late 1990s when college students celebrated being single with "a little self-mockery"[95] but a differing explanation dates it back to events in the Roman Empire.[95] For many, Singles' Day offers people a way to "demonstrate their stance on love and marriage.[95]

There is concern that young people's views of marriage have changed because of economic opportunities, with many choosing deliberately not to get married,[95] as well as young marrieds who have decided not to have children, or to postpone having them.[96] Cohabiting relationships are tolerated more often.[6] Communities where people live but don't know each other well are becoming more common in China like elsewhere, leading to fewer opportunities to meet somebody locally without assistance.[96] Divorce rates are rising in cities such as Shanghai which recorded 27,376 divorces in 2004, an increase of 30% from 2003.[96]

A government-sponsored agency called Shanghai Women's Activities Centre (Chinese: Jinguoyuan) organized periodic matchmaking events often attended by parents.[97]

Chinese-style flirtatiousness is termed sajiao, best described as "to unleash coquettishness" with feminine voice, tender gestures, and girlish protestations.[98] Chinese women expect to be taken care of (zhaogu) by men like a baby girl is doted on by an attentive and admiring father.[98] They wish to be almost "spoiled" (guan) by a man buying gifts, entertainment, and other indulgences.[98] It's a positive sign of heartache (xinteng) when a man feels compelled to do "small caring things" for a woman without being asked such as pouring a glass of water or offering a "piggyback ride if she's tired."[98] These are signs of love and accepted romantic notions in China, according to one source.[98]

Romantic love is more difficult during times of financial stress, and economic forces can encourage singles, particularly women, to select a partner primarily on financial considerations. Some men postpone marriage until their financial position is more secure and use wealth to help attract women. One trend is towards exclusive matchmaking events for the 'rich and powerful'; for example, an annual June event in Wuhan with expensive entry-ticket prices for men (99,999 RMB) lets financially secure men choose so-called bikini brides based on their beauty and education,[99] and the financial exclusivity of the event was criticized by the official news outlet China Daily.[100].

A brave lover in Beijing must be prepared to accept a paradigm shift to enjoy the cross-cultural dating experience.

There was a report that sexual relations among middle schoolers in Guangzhou sometimes resulted in abortions which, according to a report in China Daily, resulted in greater statistical chances of subsequent sterility.[101] There have been reports of scams involving get-rich-quick schemes; a forty-year-old migrant worker was one of a thousand seduced by an advertisement which read "Rich woman willing to pay 3 million yuan for sperm donor" but the worker was cheated out of his savings of 190,000 yuan (27,500 USD).[102]


Indian dating is heavily influenced by the custom of arranged marriages which require little dating, although there are indications that the institution is undergoing change, and that love marriages are becoming more accepted as India becomes more intertwined with the rest of the world.

An Indian wedding

The majority of Indian marriages are arranged by parents and relatives, and one estimate is that 9 of every 10 marriages is arranged.[103] Sometimes the bride and groom don't meet until the wedding, and there is no courtship or wooing before the joining.[77] In the past, it meant that couples were chosen from the same caste and religion and economic status.[104] There is widespread support for arranged marriages generally. Writer Lavina Melwani described a happy marriage which had been arranged by the bride's father, and noted that during the engagement, the woman was allowed to go out with him before they were married on only one occasion; the couple married and found happiness.[105] Supporters of arranged marriage suggest that there is a risk of having the marriage fall apart whether it was arranged by relatives or by the couple themselves, and that what's important is not how the marriage came to be but what the couple does after being married.[105] Parents and relatives exert considerable influence, sometimes posting matrimonial ads in newspapers and online.[104] Customs encourage families to put people together, and discourage sexual experimentation as well as so-called serial courtship in which a prospective bride or groom dates but continually rejects possible partners, since the interests of the family are seen as more important than the romantic needs of the people marrying.[2] Indian writers, such as Mistry in his book Family Matters, sometimes depict arranged marriages as unhappy.[106] Writer Sarita Sarvate of India Currents thinks people calculate their "value" on the "Indian marriage market" according to measures such as family status, and that arranged marriages typically united spouses who often didn't love each other.[107] She suggested love was out of place in this world because it risked passion and "sordid" sexual liaisons.[107] Love, as she sees it, is "Waking up in the morning and thinking about someone."[107] Writer Jennifer Marshall described the wife in an arranged marriage as living in a world of solitude without much happiness, and feeling pressured by relatives to conceive a son so she wouldn't be considered as "barren" by her husband's family; in this sense, the arranged marriage didn't bring "love, happiness, and companionship."[108] Writer Vijaysree Venkatraman believes arranged marriages are unlikely to disappear soon, commenting in his book review of Shoba Narayan's Monsoon Diary which has a detailed description of the steps involved in a present day arranged marriage.[109] There are indications that even the institution of arranged marriages is changing, with marriages increasingly being arranged by "unknown, unfamiliar sources" and less based on local families who know each other.[103] Writer Lavina Melwani in Little India compared Indian marriages to business deals:

Until recently, Indian marriages had all the trappings of a business transaction involving two deal-making families, a hardboiled matchmaker and a vocal board of shareholders - concerned uncles and aunts. The couple was almost incidental to the deal. They just dressed and showed up for the wedding ceremony. And after that the onus was on them to adjust to the 1,001 relatives, get to know each other and make the marriage work.
—Lavina Melwani, [104]

Relationships in which dating is undertaken by two people, who choose their dates without parental involvement and sometimes carry on clandestine get-togethers, has become increasingly common. When this leads to a wedding, the resulting unions are sometimes called love marriages. There are increasing incidences when couples initiate contact on their own, particularly if they live in a foreign country; in one case, a couple met surreptitiously over a game of cards.[104] Indians who move abroad to Britain or America often follow the cultural patterns of their new country: for example, one Indian woman met a white American man while skiing, and married him, and the formerly "all-important relatives" were reduced to bystanders trying to influence things ineffectively.[104] Factors operating worldwide, such as increased affluence, the need for longer education, and greater mobility have lessened the appeal for arranged marriages, and these trends have affected criteria about which possible partners are acceptable, making it more likely that pairings will cross previously impenetrable barriers such as caste or ethnic background.[104] Indian-Americans in the U.S. sometimes participate in Singles Meets organized by websites which happen about once a month, with 100 participants at each event; an organizer did not have firm statistics about the success rate leading to a long-term relationship but estimated about one in every ten members finds a partner through the site.[35]

Dating websites are gaining ground in India. Writer Rupa Dev preferred websites which emphasized authenticity and screened people before entering their names into their databases, making it a safer environment overall, so that site users can have greater trust that it's safe to date others on the site.[110] Dev suggested that dating websites were much better than the anonymous chatrooms of the 1990s.[110]

During the interval before marriage, whether it's an arranged or a love marriage, private detectives have been hired to check up on a prospective bride or groom, or to verify claims about a potential spouse made in newspaper advertising, and there are reports that such snooping is increasing.[103] Detectives investigate former amorous relationships and can include fellow college students, former police officers skilled in investigations, and medical workers "with access to health records."[103]

Transsexuals and eunuchs have begun using Internet dating in some states in India.[111]

The practice of dating runs against some religious traditions, and the radical Hindu group Sri Ram Sena threatened to "force unwed couples" to marry, if they were discovered dating on Valentine's Day; a fundamentalist leader said "drinking and dancing in bars and celebrating this day has nothing to do with Hindu traditions."[112] The threat sparked a protest via the Internet which resulted in cartloads of pink panties being sent to the fundamentalist leader's office.[112]


There is a type of courtship called Omiai in which parents hire a matchmaker to give resumes and pictures to potential mates for their approval, leading to a formal meeting with parents and matchmaker attending.[113] If the couple has a few dates, they're often pressured by the matchmaker and parents to decide whether or not to marry.[113] There are reports of men falling in "love" with digital simulations of women from video games, manga, and anime; one 27-year-old man known by the handle of "Sal 9000" staged a wedding in 2009, watched by thousands online, in which he married his favorite cartoon girl named "Nene Anegasaki".[114]


Marriages and courtship in Pakistan are influenced by traditional cultural practices similar to those elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent as well as Muslim norms and manners. Illegitimate relationships before marriage are considered a social taboo and social interaction between unmarried men and women is encouraged at a modest and healthy level. Couples are usually wedded through either an arranged marriage or love marriage. Love marriages are those in which the individuals have chosen a partner whom they like by their own choice prior to marriage, and usually occur with the consent of parents and family. Arranged marriages on the other hand are marriages which are set and agreed by the families or guardians of the two individuals where the couple may not have met before. In either cases and in consistency with traditional marital practices, individuals who marry are persuaded to meet and talk to each other for some time before considering marrying so that they can check their compatibility.


Singapore's largest dating service, Social Development Unit, is a government-run dating system.


One report suggested that in southern Taiwan, "traditional rules of courtship" still apply despite the influence of popular culture; for example, men continue to take the initiative in forming relationships.[115] A poll in 2009 of students at high schools and vocational schools found that over 90% admitted that they had "no clear idea of how to approach someone of the opposite sex who interested them". What caused relationships to break up? 60% said "changes of heart" or "cheating". Dating more than one person at a time was not permissible, agreed 70%.

Survey of Taiwan students
Statement Percent agreeing
Hopeful they'll find a relationship 37%
Have no clear idea how to approach someone who interested them 90%
"Changes of heart" and "cheating" cause breakups 60%
Willing to resume relationship if problems are resolved 31%
Having more than one relationship at a time isn't good 70%
Women who won't enter a relationship if man lives too far away 70%
Women who believe height in men matters 96%
source: China Daily[115]



Flirting, aristocratic-style
Painting by Frédéric Soulacroix (1858-1933)

In Britain, the term dating is similar to the American sense of the tentative exploratory part of a relationship. If two people are going out together, it may mean they're dating but that their relationship has advanced to a relatively long-standing and sexual boyfriend-girlfriend relationship although they're not cohabitating. The term hanging out may describe two people who are dating but it may also describe a casual friendship. Britons are familiar with the term dating but the rituals surrounding courtship are somewhat different from North America. Writer Kira Cochrane advises daters to throw out rule books and just be safe and "get out there and meet people" while noting a trend to put off marriage until one's thirties, and notes many people are leaving unhappy relationships when they're in their forties or fifties or older.[16] She sees a trend for developing new ways of meeting people.[16] In contrast, writer Bibi van der Zee found dating etiquette rules to be helpful, and found that supposedly liberated advice such as "just be yourself" to be the "most useless advice in history."[116] She was frustrated after sexual relationships with men that seemed to go nowhere, and found in her mid twenties that men she had dated didn't return her phone calls or seem interested in carrying the relationship further; she felt "clueless and unwanted", she wrote, and found advice books such as The Rules helpful.[117] British writer Henry Castiglione signed up for a "weekend flirting course" and found the experience helpful; he was advised to talk to and smile at everyone he met.[118] Emailing back-and-forth, after meeting on a dating website, is one way to get to know people in Britain, and elsewhere.[55] In the U.K., one estimate is that 15 million people are single, and half of these are seeking a long-term relationship; three-quarters of them have not been in a relationship for more than 18 months.[119] In a twelve-month period, the average number of dates that a single person will have is four.[119] When dating, 43% of people google their dates ahead of time.[120] Almost five million Britons visited a dating website in the past twelve months.[119] A third admitting to lying on their profile.[119] A fifth of married individuals between 19 and 25 met their spouse online, according to one estimate.[119] One poll in 2009 of 3,000 couples suggested that the average duration of their courtship period, between first meeting to the acceptance of a marriage proposal, was three years.[121]


Speed dating announcement in Paris

A speed dating event at a hotel in Cerizay was "open to anyone aged 20 and above and starts at 20.00 with a light buffet and apéritif, price €15," and required reservations.[122] One Internet dating site will "allow people to share their single friends in the same way they share files."[123]


One report suggested Spanish women were the "greatest flirts", based on an unofficial study by a dating website which ranked countries based on initiations of contact.[124]

German-speaking countries

Ball of City of Vienna (1900)

While analysts such as Harald Martenstein and others suggest that it is easier for persons to initiate contact in America, many Germans view the American dating habits as "unspontaneous", "ridiculous" and "rigid".[citation needed] Countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria allow for first contacts during seasonal festivals and funfairs during carnival before Oktoberfest. In addition, municipal and local festivals like the love parade and others allow unattached men and women to meet and flirt.[125]

Membership in voluntary associations is relatively high in German-speaking countries and these provide further chances for possible partners to meet. Strolling on Esplanadess and Promenade walkways such as the one in Hamburg called the Jungfernstieg (maidens way), have been another venue for introductions as early as the 19th century. Analyst Geoffrey Gorer described dating as an American idiosyncracy focusing on youth of college age and expressed in activities such as American proms. In contrast German speaking countries and the longstanding musical tradition there provide ample opportunity of persons of varying ages enjoying social dances, such as the Vienna Opera Ball and other occasions.

Romantic encounters are often described with French terms like rendezvous or tête-à-tête in addition to the American term date. The German term of Stelldichein (as translated by Joachim Heinrich Campes) is used to signify dating when the age of consent to marriage was relatively high. German traditions to signify lovers who met in hiding were described with terms like Fensterln (windowing) or Kiltgang (dawn stroll) used in Bavaria and Switzerland.[126] Analyst Sebastian Heinzel sees a major cultural divide between American dating habits and European informality, and leads to instances in which European expatriates in cities such as New York keep to themselves.[127]

Middle East

Veiled woman in a market in Morocco.


In Egypt, like in many parts of the Middle East, sex without marriage is considered unacceptable. This is due to the fact that Islam—the predominant religion in these countries—considers that sex outside of marriage is a threat to family stability and welfare which is a cornerstone of all Islamic regulations. Dating in Egypt is predominantly done under family supervision, usually in the girl's family's house or in a public area.


People of different sexes are not allowed to "mix freely" in public,[128] and dress code restrictions requiring women to conceal their faces can be a barrier towards attracting mates. Since 1979, the state has become a religious autocracy, and imposes Islamic edicts on matters such as dating. Clerics run officially sanctioned internet dating agency with strict rules.[128] Prospective couples can have three meetings: two with strict supervision inside the center, and the third being a "brief encounter on their own"; afterwards, they can either (1) choose to marry or (2) agree to never see each other again.[128] This has become the subject of a film by Iranian filmmaker Leila Lak.[128] Iran has a large population of young people with sixty percent of the 70-million population being under the age of thirty.[129] However, economic hardship discourages marriage, and divorce rates have increased in Teheran to around a quarter of marriages,[129] even though divorce is taboo.[129] While the Iranian government "condemns dating and relationships", it promotes marriage with (1) online courses (2) "courtship classes" where students can "earn a diploma" after sitting through weekly tests and "hundreds of hours of education" (3) "marriage diplomas" (4) matchmaking and arranged marriages.[129] Authorities push a conservative approach and shun unmarried romantic relationships and encourage "traditional match-making".[129] But young people have disobeyed the restrictions; one said "It is wiser to have different relationships" and believed in defying religious rules which suggest "short-term illegitimate relationships harm dignity."[129] Adultery can be punished by death.[129] While youths can flout selected restrictions, there are almost no instances in which unmarried people move in together.[129] There have been efforts to promote an "Islamic substitute for dating" known as Sigheh or temporary marriage, which is a Shiite practice which "allows a man and a woman to be married for even an hour."[129]


One report suggests the Lebanese dating game is hampered by "the weight of family demands upon individual choice" and that there were difficulties, particularly for people seeking to marry across religious lines, such as a Christian seeking to marry a Muslim.[130]

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Gazette quoted a Wikipedia article on domestic violence, suggesting it was an issue for Saudis, including abusive behavior while dating by one or both partners.[70]

North America

United States and Canada

Couple dating in Florida.

One report suggested the United States as well as other western-oriented countries were different from the rest of the world because "love is the reason for mating", as opposed to marriages being arranged to cement economic and class ties between families and promote political stability.[4] Dating, by mutual consent of two single people, is the norm. British writer Kira Cochrane, after moving to the U.S., found herself grappling with the American approach to dating.[131] She wondered why it was acceptable to juggle "10 potential partners" while weighing different attributes; she found American-style dating to be "exhausting and strange."[131] She found dating in America to be "organized in a fairly formal fashion" with men approaching women and asking point blank for a date; she found this to be "awkward."[131] She described the "third date rule" which was that women weren't supposed to have sex until the third date even if they desired it, although men were supposed to try for sex.[132] She wrote: "Dating rules almost always cast the man as aggressor, and the woman as prey, which frankly makes me feel nauseous."[132] Canadian writer Danielle Crittenden, however, chronicling female angst, criticized a tendency to not take dating seriously and suggested that postponing marriage into one's thirties was problematic:[133]

By waiting and waiting and waiting to commit to someone, our capacity for love shrinks and withers. This doesn't mean that women or men should marry the first reasonable person to come along, or someone with whom they are not in love. But we should, at a much earlier age than we do now, take a serious attitude toward dating and begin preparing ourselves to settle down. For it's in the act of taking up the roles we've been taught to avoid or postpone––wife, husband, mother, father––that we build our identities, expand our lives, and achieve the fullness of character we desire.
—Danielle Crittenden, 1999, [133]

Teenagers and college-aged students tend to avoid the more formal activity of dating, and prefer casual no-strings-attached experiments sometimes described as hookups. It permits young women to "go out and fit into the social scene, get attention from young men, and learn about sexuality", according to one report by sociologists.[134] The term hookup can describe a wide variety of behavior ranging from kissing to non-genital touching to make-out sessions; according to one report, only about one third of people had sexual intercourse.[134]

Muslims living in the United States can choose whether to use traditional Islamic methods, or date American-style; Muslims choosing to stick to Islamic tradition can "only marry another Muslim", according to one Malaysian account. Mosques have been known to try to bring people together––one in California has a dating service for Muslims.[135] In general, Muslim men are allowed to marry Jewish, Christian or Muslim women.

South America


In Brazil, according to one report, there's a longer time interval before children move out of the house, which affects dating.[136] As a result, parents offer advice about dating although it may not be heeded.[136] Men interested in Brazilian women are advised to become friends with them first.[136] Brazilians are more likely to "share intimacies" compared with others, according to one viewpoint.[136]

Dating differences according to sexual orientation

A report in Psychology Today found that homosexual men were attracted to men in their late teens and early twenties and didn't care much about the status of a prospective partner; rather, physical attractiveness was the key.[137] Gay men, on average, tend to have more sexual partners, while lesbians tended to form steadier one-on-one relationships, and tend to be less promiscuous than heterosexual women.[137] One gay man found dating online difficult, and found that there is an element of deception on dating website profiles just like everywhere else:

Very attractive translates as big-headed ... Average build means a bit paunchy ... 5ft 10 is actually 5ft 7 and a half ... The picture is always taken from the best, most flattering angle ... Black and white photos mean I am pretentious or I've something to hide ... Anyone who writes in text speak or says I heart instead of I like should be avoided ... Ditto for people whose interests include feet.

The deception got worse. When he met his date who he had befriended online who he dubbed Facebook Guy for the first time, he wrote:

Facebook guy arrived on time. Facially, he looked the same as his picture. And his arms were as "worked out" as he promised. But he was lacking in the leg department. Quite literally. Facebook Guy had failed to mention that he had no legs.

In India, transsexuals and eunuchs have used Internet dating to help them find partners, but there continue to be strong societal pressures which marginalize these groups.[111]


The Matchmaker
painting by Gerard van Honthorst (1590–1656)

People can meet other people on their own or the get-together can be arranged by someone else. Matchmaking is an art based entirely on hunches, since it is impossible to predict with certainty whether two people will like each other or not. "All you should ever try and do is make two people be in the same room at the same time," advised matchmaker Sarah Beeny in 2009, and the only rule is to make sure the people involved want to be set up.[140] One matchmaker advised it was good to match "brains as well as beauty" and try to find people with similar religious and political viewpoints and thinks that like-minded people result in more matches, although acknowledging that opposites sometimes attract.[141] It's easier to put several people together at the same time, so there are other candidates possible if one doesn't work out, according to Hannah Pool.[141] And, after introducing people, don't meddle.[141]

Friends as matchmakers

Friends remain an excellent way for people to meet people, according to sociologist Edward Laumann of the University of Chicago, who wrote that "A real person––whatever his relationship to you, be it friend or kinsman or co-worker––is still far and away the most reliable kind of way to meet someone."[142] However, the Internet promises to overtake friends in the future, if present trends continue, according to an article in USA Today.[31][142] A friend can introduce two people who don't know each other, and the friend may play matchmaker and send them on a blind date. In The Guardian, British writer Hannah Pool was cynical about being set up on a blind date; she was told "basically he's you but in a male form" by the mutual friend.[143] She googled her blind date's name along with the words "wife" and "girlfriend" and "partner" and "boyfriend" to see whether her prospective date was in any kind of relationship or gay; he wasn't any of these things.[143] She met him for coffee in London and she now lives with him, sharing a home and business.[143] When friends introduce two people who don't know each other, it's often called a blind date.

Family as matchmakers

Parents, via their contacts with associates or neighbors or friends, can introduce their children to each other. In India, parents often place matrimonial ads in newspapers or online, and may post the resumes of the prospective bride or groom.[144]

Matchmaking systems and services

Dating systems can be systematic and organized ways to improve matchmaking by using rules or technology. The meeting can be in-person or live as well as separated by time or space such as by telephone or email or chat-based. The purpose of the meeting is for the two persons to decide whether to go on a date in the future.

  • Speed dating are organized matchmaking events have multiple single persons meet one-on-one in brief timed sessions so that singles can assess further whether to have subsequent dates. An example is meeting perhaps twenty potential partners in a bar with brief interviews between each possible couple, perhaps lasting three minutes in length, and shuffling partners. In Shanghai, one event featured eight-minute one-on-one meetings in which participants were pre-screened by age and education and career, and which costs 50 yuan ($6 USD) per participant; participants are asked not to reveal contact information during the brief meeting with the other person, but rather place names in cards for organizers to arrange subsequent dates.[89] Advantages of speed dating: efficiency; "avoids an embarrassing disaster date"; cost-effective; way to make friends.[89] Disadvantages: it can turn into a beauty contest with only a few good-looking participants getting most offers, while less attractive peers received few or no offers; critics suggest that the format prevents factors such as personality and intelligence from emerging, particularly in large groups with extra-brief meeting times.[145]
(Speed dating is) a fast and comfortable way to meet people. It helps enlarge my social contacts. I don't care if I can't find a girlfriend there. I just want to try my luck, and if she is there, then that will be a big bonus.
—Huang Xiao, salesman, age 27, [89]
  • Video dating systems of the 1980s and 1990s especially, where customers gave a performance on (typically VHS) 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 ever dating them.

Computers as matchmakers

Software entrepreneur Gary Robinson developed a now-defunct online dating service called 212-Romance in New York City in the 1980s which used complex computer algorithms to guess who'd like whom.

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. The history of dating systems is closely tied to the history of technologies that support them, although a statistics-based dating service that used data from forms filled out by customers opened in Newark, New Jersey in 1941.[146] The first large-scale computer dating system, The Scientific Marriage Foundation, was established in 1957 by Dr. George W. Crane.[147] In this system, forms that applicants filled out were processed by an early IBM card sorting machine. In the early 1980s in New York City, software developer Gary Robinson developed a now–defunct dating service called 212-Romance which used computer algorithms to match singles romantically, using a voice–mail based interface backed by community-based automated recommendations enhanced by collaborative filtering technologies.[148] Compatibility algorithms and matching software are becoming increasingly sophisticated, according to one report.[42]

Online dating services are becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide. They charge a fee to enable a user to post a profile of himself or herself, perhaps using video or still images as well as descriptive data and personal preferences for dating, such as age range, hobbies, and so forth. One report suggests that online dating businesses are thriving financially, with growth in members, service offerings, membership fees and with many users renewing their accounts, although the overall share of Internet traffic using online dating services in the U.S. has declined somewhat, from 2003 (21% of all Internet users) to 2006 (10%), and that dating sites must work to convince users that they're safe places having quality members, according to Jupiter Research.[149] While online dating has become more accepted, it retains a slight negative stigma, according to one writer.[150] There is widespread evidence that online dating has increased rapidly and is becoming "mainstream" with new websites appearing regularly.[151] One study suggested that 18% of single persons had used the Internet for dating purposes.[152] Reports vary about the effectiveness of dating web sites to result in marriages or long–term relationships. Pew Research, based on a 2005 survey of 3,215 adults, estimated that three million Americans had entered into long-term relationships or marriage as a result of meeting on a dating web site.[153] While sites have touted marriage rates from 10% to 25%, sociologists and marriage researchers are highly skeptical that valid statistics underlie any such claims.[153] The Pew study (see table) suggested the Internet was becoming increasingly prominent and accepted as a way to meet people for dates, although there were cautions about deception, the risk of violence,[154] and some concerns about stigmas.[155] The report suggested most people had positive experiences with online dating websites and felt they were excellent ways to meet more people.[155] The report also said that online daters tend to have more liberal social attitudes compared to the general population.[156] In India, parents sometimes participate in websites designed to match couples.[144] Some online dating sites can organize double dates or group dates.[157] Research from Berkeley suggests there's a dropoff in interest after online daters meet face–to–face.[42] It's a lean medium not offering standard cues such as tone of voice, gestures, and facial expressions.[42] There is substantial data about online dating habits; for example, researchers believe that "the likelihood of a reply to a message sent by one online dater to another drops roughly 0.7 percent with every day that goes by".[42] Psychologist Lindsay Shaw Taylor found that even though people said they'd be willing to date someone of a different race, that people tend to choose dates similar to themselves.[42]

Internet "QQ" chat rooms. This type of dating approach, cheaper than traditional websites and agencies, is gaining ground in China.[87]

Online website usage survey[155]
Estimate Percentage
Internet users who've used it romantically 74%
Know somebody who found long-term partner via Internet 15%
Know someone who's used a dating website 31%
Know someone who's gone on a date after visiting a website 26%
Agree online dating can be dangerous 66%
Don't think online dating is dangerous 25%
Believe online dating is for those in "dire straits" 29%
Gone on a dating website 10%
  • There are dating applications or apps on mobile phones.[158]
  • 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. (which is similar to online dating although this practice is not usually accepted by other players)
  • Mobile dating/cell phone dating: 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.
  • Singles event: 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. Many events are aimed at singles of particular affiliations, interest, or religions.[159] A weekend flirting course in Britain advised daters to "love the inner you" and understand the difference between arrogance from insecurity and "true self-confidence"; it featured exercises in which students were told to imagine that they were "great big beautiful gods and goddesses" and treat others similarly.[118]


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.

Age groups

Dating can happen for people in most age groups with the possible exception of children. Teenagers and tweens have been described as dating; according to one report by the CDC, three-quarters of eighth and ninth graders in the United States described themselves as "dating", although it is unclear what is exactly meant by this term.[160]

Young persons are exposed to many in their high schools or secondary schools or college or universities.[161] There is anecdotal evidence that traditional dating—one-on-one public outings—has declined rapidly among the younger generation in the United States in favor of less intimate sexual encounters sometimes known as hookups (slang), described as brief sexual experiences with "no strings attached", although exactly what is meant by the term hookup varies considerably.[162] Dating is being bypassed and is seen as archaic, and relationships are sometimes seen as "greedy" by taking time away from other activities,[163] although exclusive relationships form later.[164] Some college newspapers have decried the lack of dating on campuses after a 2001 study was published, and conservative groups have promoted "traditional" dating.[165] When young people are in school, they have a lot of access to people their own age, and don't need tools such as online websites or dating services.[166] Chinese writer Lao Wai, writing to homeland Chinese about America, considered that the college years were the "golden age of dating" for Americans, when Americans dated more than at any other time in their life.[1] "Once they are way past school, it's harder to find a partner," according to dating coach Evan Marc Katz, who urges singles to go online.[161] There are indications people in their twenties are less focused on marriage but on careers; according to National Public Radio, "marriage is often the last thing on the minds of young people leaving college today."[8]

People over thirty, lacking the recency of a college experience, have better luck online finding partners.[161] Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett in 2002 found that 55% of 35-year-old career women were childless, while 19% of male corporate executives were, and concluded that "the rule of thumb seems to be that the more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or bear a child."[167]

While people tend to date people their own age, it's possible for older men to date younger women. In many countries, the older-man-younger-woman arrangement is seen as permissible, sometimes with benefits. It's looked on more positively in the U.S. than in China; older men are described as more knowledgeable sexually and intellectually, supportive, skilled in the ways of women, and financially more secure so there's "no more going Dutch."[168] In China, older men with younger women are more likely to be described as "weird uncles" rather than "silver foxes."[168] One Beijing professor reportedly advised his male students to delay dating:

Research shows that successful men are, on average, older than their spouses by 12 years; exceptional men, by 17 years; and Nobel laureates, well, they can be 54 years older than their mates. Why date now when your ideal wives are still in kindergarten!
Actress Demi Moore, by dating younger actor Ashton Kutcher, has been described as a cougar.

A notable example of the older-woman-younger-man is Demi Moore pairing with 15 year younger Ashton Kutcher. Older women in such relations have recently been described as "cougars", and formerly such relationships were often kept secret or discreet, but there is a report that such relationships are becoming more accepted and increasing.[169]

Since divorce is increasing in many areas, sometimes celebrated with "divorce parties",[170] there is dating advice for the freshly divorced as well, which includes not talking about your ex or your divorce, but focusing on "activities that bring joy to your life."[54] Adviser Claire Rayner in The Guardian suggests calling people from your address book who you haven't been in touch with for years and say "I'd love to get back in contact."[13] Do activities you like doing with like-minded people; if someone seems interesting to you, tell them.[13] It's more acceptable for this group for women to ask men out.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "'Lao wai' speak out on false image in China". China Daily. 2004-02-06. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Courtship". China Daily. 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2010-12-09. "... Forbidding experimental and serial courtship and sanctioning only arranged matches is partly a means of guarding the chastity of young people and partly a matter of furthering family interests..." 
  3. ^ Robert Sapolsky (2005). "Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality, 2nd edition". The Teaching Company. "(lectures on CD-audio)" 
  4. ^ a b Kris Paap, Douglas Raybeck (2005). "A Differently Gendered Landscape: Gender and Agency in the Web-based Personals". Electronic Journal of Sociology. Retrieved 2010-12-13. "most marriages in the world are arranged..." 
  5. ^ MAUREEN DOWD quoting poet Dorothy Parker (2005). "What's a Modern Girl to Do?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-08. "...women connived to trade beauty and sex for affluence and status...." 
  6. ^ a b c "Parents explore dating scene for choosy children". China Daily. 2005-11-11. Retrieved 2010-12-09. "... in earlier times society demanded people get married before having a sexual relationship." 
  7. ^ a b c "Raw dater". The Guardian. 24 January 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-08. "..."True love can have no place between husband and wife," ..." 
  8. ^ a b c Brenda Wilson (June 8, 2009). "Sex Without Intimacy: No Dating, No Relationships". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-12-08. "Dating itself ... evolved out of a courtship ritual where young women entertained gentleman callers, usually in the home, ..." 
  9. ^ MAUREEN DOWD quoting poet Dorothy Parker (2005). "What's a Modern Girl to Do?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-08. ",,,What our grandmothers told us about playing hard to get is true. ..." 
  10. ^ "Raw dater". The Guardian. 24 January 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-08. "24 was the average age for a person to get married in 1851...." 
  11. ^ Chester F. Jacobson (February 7, 2010). "A long-ago first date: More than 60 years later, would that special girl remember me?". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-12-09. "After the movie, Finney and I took Helen home to her mother, ...." 
  12. ^ a b c d Vanessa Fuchs (June 16, 2010). "Shy guys switching on to text message courtship - and girls say it's OK". Courier-Mail. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  13. ^ a b c d Claire Rayner (25 January 2009). "Claire Rayner's tips for the older dater". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-12-08. "Search through your address book, call people you haven't spoken to in years and say: "I'd love to get back in contact." ..." 
  14. ^ Sharon Jayson (2010-02-10). "Internet changing the game of love". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-12-08. ""The rise of the Internet as a way of meeting people makes a bit of an end run around family," ..." 
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  • Sizer-Webb, Frances; Eleanor Noss DeBruyne; Linda Kelly DeBruyne (2000). Health: Making Life Choices. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. pp. 499–500. 
  • Havelin, Kate (2000). Dating: What Is a Healthy Relationship?. Capstone Press. 

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