Dating as defined by wiki

Dating is a stage of romantic relationships in humans whereby two people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a prospective partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage. It can be a form of courtship that consists of social activities done by the couple. The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country and over time. While the term has several meanings, the most frequent usage refers to two people exploring whether they are romantically or sexually compatible by participating in dates with the other. With the use of modern technology, people can date via telephone or computer or meet in person.

This term may also refer to two or more people who have already decided they share romantic or sexual feelings toward each other. These people will have dates on a regular basis, and they may or may not be having sexual relations. This period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement or marriage.[1][2] Some cultures require people to wait until a certain age to begin dating, which has been a source of controversy.

Matchmakers

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.[155] 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.[156] It is easier to put several people together at the same time, so there are other candidates possible if one doesn’t work out.[156] And, after introducing people, don’t meddle.[156]

Friends as matchmakers[edit]

Friends remain an extremely common way for people to meet[157] However, the Internet promises to overtake friends in the future, if present trends continue.[42][157] 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.[158] 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.[158] She met him for coffee in London and she now lives with him, sharing a home and business.[158] When friends introduce two people who do not know each other, it is often called a blind date.

Family as matchmakers[edit]

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.[159]

Matchmaking systems and services[edit]

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 consists of organized matchmaking events that 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.[84] Advantages of speed dating: efficiency; “avoids an embarrassing disaster date”; cost-effective; way to make friends.[84] 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.[160]

(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, [84]
  • 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.
  • Online dating systems use websites or mobile phone apps to connect possible romantic or sexual partners. One gay man found dating online difficult, and found 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 pretentiousor 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.

— [161]

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.

— [162]

Computers as matchmakers[edit]

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 the 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.[163] The first large-scale computer dating system, The Scientific Marriage Foundation, was established in 1957 by Dr. George W. Crane.[164] In this system, forms that applicants filled out were processed by an IBM card sorting machine. The earliest commercially successfully computerized dating service in either the US or UK was Com-Pat, started by Joan Ball in 1964.[165] Operation Match, started by Harvard University students a year later is often erroneously claimed to be the “first computerized dating service.”[166] In actuality, both Com-Pat and Operation Match were preceded by other computerized dating services in Europe–the founders of Operation Match and Joan Ball of Com-Pat both stated they had heard about these European computer dating services and that those served as the inspiration for their respective ideas to create computer dating businesses.[167][168] The longest running and most successful early computer dating business, both in terms of numbers of users and in terms of profits, was Dateline, which was started in the UK in 1965 by John Patterson. Patterson’s business model was not fully legal, however. He was charged with fraud on several occasions for selling lists of the women who signed up for his service to men who were looking for prostitutes.[169] Dateline existed until Patterson’s death from alcoholism in 1997, and during the early 1990s it was reported to be the most profitable computer dating company in the world.[170] 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.[171] Compatibility algorithms and matching software are becoming increasingly sophisticated.[22]

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. Online dating is a $2 billion per year business, as of 2014, with an annual growth rate of 5%. The industry is dominated by a few large companies, such as EHarmonyZoosk and InterActiveCorp, or IAC, which owns several brands including Match.com and OKCupid. However new entrants continue to emerge.[166]

An earlier report suggested that online dating businesses were 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.[172] While online dating has become more accepted, it retains a slight negative stigma.[173] There is widespread evidence that online dating has increased rapidly and is becoming “mainstream” with new websites appearing regularly.[174] One study suggested that 18% of single persons had used the Internet for dating purposes.[175] 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.[176] While sites have touted marriage rates from 10% to 25%, sociologists and marriage researchers are highly skeptical that valid statistics underlie any such claims.[176] 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,[177] and some concerns about stigmas.[178] The report suggested most people had positive experiences with online dating websites and felt they were excellent ways to meet more people.[178] The report also said that online daters tend to have more liberal social attitudes compared to the general population.[179] In India, parents sometimes participate in websites designed to match couples.[159] Some online dating sites can organize double dates or group dates.[180]Research from Berkeley suggests there’s a dropoff in interest after online daters meet face–to–face.[22] It’s a lean medium not offering standard cues such as tone of voice, gestures, and facial expressions.[22] 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”.[22] 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.[22]

Internet “QQ” chat rooms. This type of dating approach, cheaper than traditional websites and agencies, is gaining ground in China.[82]

Online website usage survey[178]
Estimate  %
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.[181]
  • 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.[182] 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.[129]

dating history

Persian miniature of Reza Abbasi, featuring two lovers (1629-1630)

Dating as an institution is a relatively recent phenomenon which has mainly emerged in the last few centuries. From the standpoint of anthropology and sociology, dating is linked with other institutions such as marriage and the family which have also been changing rapidly and which have been subject to many forces, including advances in technology and medicine. As humans societies have evolved from hunter-gatherers into civilized societies, there have been substantial changes in relations between men and women, with perhaps one of a few remaining biological constants being that both adult women and men must have sexual intercourse for human procreation to happen.[3]

Humans have been compared to other species in terms of sexual behavior. Neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky constructed a reproductive spectrum with opposite poles being 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.[4] According to Sapolsky, humans are somewhat in the middle of this spectrum, in the sense that humans form pair bonds, but there is the possibility of cheating or changing partners.[4] These species-particular behavior patterns provide a context for aspects of human reproduction, including dating. However, one particularity of the human species is that pair bonds are often formed without necessarily having the intention of reproduction. In modern times, emphasis on the institution of marriage, generally described as a male-female bond, has obscured pair bonds formed by same-sex and transsexual couples, and that many heterosexual couples also bond for life without offspring, or that often pairs that do have offspring separate. Thus, the concept of marriage is changing widely in many countries.

Historically, marriages in most societies were arranged by parents and older relatives with the goal not being love but legacy and “economic stability and political alliances”, according to anthropologists.[5]Accordingly, there was little need for a temporary trial period such as dating before a permanent community-recognized union was formed between a man and a woman. While pair-bonds of varying forms were recognized by most societies as acceptable social arrangements, marriage was reserved for heterosexual pairings and had a transactional nature, where wives were in many cases a form of property being exchanged between father and husband, and who would have to serve the function of reproduction. Communities exerted pressure on people to form pair-bonds in places such as Europe; in China, society “demanded people get married before having a sexual relationship”[6] and many societies found that some formally recognized bond between a man and a woman was the best way of rearing and educating children as well as helping to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings regarding competition for mates.

The clandestine meeting between Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s play. Painting by Sir Frank Dicksee, 1884

Generally, during much of recorded history of humans in civilization, and into 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] According to one view, clandestine meetings between men and women, generally outside of marriage or before marriage, were the precursors to today’s dating.[7]

From about 1700 a worldwide movement perhaps described as the “empowerment of the individual” took hold, leading towards greater emancipation of women and equality of individuals. Men and women became more equal politically, financially, and socially in many nations. Women eventually won the right to vote in many countries and own property and receive equal treatment by the law, and these changes had profound impacts on the relationships between men and women. Parental influence declined. In many societies, individuals could decide—on their own—whether they should marry, whom they should marry, and when they should marry. A few centuries ago, dating was sometimes described as a “courtship ritual where young women entertained gentleman callers, usually in the home, under the watchful eye of a chaperone,”[8] but increasingly, in many Western countries, it became a self-initiated activity with two young people going out as a couple in public together. Still, dating varies considerably by nation, custom, religious upbringing, technology, and social class, and important exceptions with regards to individual freedoms remain as many countries today still practice arranged marriages, request dowries, and forbid same-sex pairings. Although in many countries, movies, meals, and meeting in coffeehouses and other places is now popular, as are advice books suggesting various strategies for men and women,[9] in other parts of the world, such as in South Asia and many parts of the Middle East, being alone in public as a couple with another person is not only frowned upon but can even lead to either person being socially ostracized.

In the twentieth century, dating was sometimes seen as a precursor to marriage but it could also be considered as an end-in-itself, that is, an informal social activity akin to friendship. It generally happened in that portion of a person’s life before the age of marriage,[10] but as marriage became less permanent with the advent of divorce, dating could happen at other times in peoples lives as well. People became more mobile.[11] Rapidly developing technology played a huge role: new communication technology such as the telephone,[12] Internet[13] and text messaging[14] enabled dates to be arranged without face-to-face contact. Cars extended the range of dating as well as enabled 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 children. Information about human sexuality grew, and with it an acceptance of all types of sexual orientations is becoming more common. Today, the institution of dating continues to evolve at a rapid rate with new possibilities and choices opening up particularly through online dating.