Dating is an age old social activity practiced in Western countries whereby two persons interact socially with the objective of each evaluating the other’s potential as a potential partner in a dating relationship in the future. It has been viewed in a light which sees it as something of a ladies’ past as men have traditionally been less inclined to date and more inclined towards the more macho and aggressive side of the sexes in the arena of dating. Although attitudes towards dating itself in the West have changed over the years, the stereotypical view of what is considered a dating gesture still persists. This is evident in Western media which still portrays dating experiences in the movies as being akin to bar scenes, where the two individuals involved are seen as unfaithful and are involved in all manner of bickering and argumentation. The implication being that men are less prone towards dating and that they are expected to stick strictly to their jobs. Conversely, women are depicted as seeking out the support of the man in order to raise a family while simultaneously enjoying the freedom of being single and being dominant in the social arena.
Dating can take on many forms and variations, depending on the cultural norms that surround it and the circumstances under which two people come together. For example, it can be viewed through the perspective of arranged marriage where two people come together as husband and wife to be married in the future. Such a scenario would suggest that there is some form of compatibility between the two people in terms of moral standards, beliefs and a general outlook towards life.
On the other hand, the idea that there is some sort of compatibility or ‘fairer sex’ involved in the dating scenario is rapidly being replaced by the Western concept of long-term relationships and less about if couples have sex often. This is evident in the increasing number of dating sites and online dating services where people interact for the purpose of long-term relationships with the hope of eventually forming a long-term marriage. However, despite the long-term goal, the typical scenario is that one or both partners are likely to stay in the relationship for a relatively short period of time (usually no more than four years). This then suggests that the typical dating scenario is one where a person has been dating someone for a very long time and is perhaps somewhat ‘taken for granted’. However, it should be noted that even within this scenario there can be considerable variances with the actual stages of courtship.
While one can be relatively sure of the intention of a person dating another person, in many instances where the courtship has progressed to the stage where a courtship has been pursued to the point where a courtship has taken place, there is often a great deal of uncertainty about what the true intentions are. There can be genuine feelings between two people, yet there may be some degree of uncertainty about whether the true love is reciprocated or whether the courtship is just an expression of friendship. This brings with it the need to establish some sort of communication line to ensure that the courtship is not one that simply degenerates into a friendship. This is why courtship can sometimes be viewed in two ways – as a friendship or as a potential relationship that may evolve into something more romantic in the future.
For those that have not been involved in dating or courting for a very long time, it may seem strange to consider courtship as a true love process. Yet one must remember that this is only one aspect of courtship. True love is not merely courtship. It is the way in which two people come together to identify and pursue their own interests and passions. It is the understanding that true love comes from a commitment to explore and discover together what these interests and passions are and how they can grow and blossom.
Dating can often be seen as a simple pastime, even something that can be done casually without any consideration as to how the courtship progresses. However, courtship – real courtship – is about exploring and discovering together. It is about being open and honest about how two people feel and what they want from the relationship. Whether or not there is an eventual courtship, it must always be about finding out what two people want to share with one another and then pursuing that together.