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Dating is a relatively modern term to describe an age old tradition. Just to show how easy we forget the age of things, the word condom first appeared in 1706! Due to the vagueness of specific meaning and intent in the word "dating" it is a term that has become popular worldwide as the term of choice for meeting new people on a romantic basis. We don't begin dating to become friends, we date to become lovers, partners, boyfriends and girlfriends. We can argue that the word literally means that one has reserved this day or date for a particular person.

Of course dating in many countries is not the most common term, in areas of the UK we still see people using terms like "courting", "going out with", "stepping out with" or "seeing". All terms have the same function, which is to describe a higher level of meeting with a person than just friendship.

A few generations ago we would have determined dating as a courtship ritual leading to marriage and however much you my wish to disagree with me, hidden underneath our modern methods today, that is generally still the goal of most people. Dating for the sake of it is becoming more widespread, almost like a sport, but the vast majority of people dating are dating for fun and at the same time dating with a more serious intent too.

We are a great deal more traditional about dating than we care to admit. It is till often the case that a man will ask the permission of the partner's parent to marry their daughter. A very traditional gesture. It is also worth making a note that in Moslem and Arab traditions, dating is seen even by many of the young as interfering with the concept of family an dating is seen as threatening. With the influences of the West, of course dating is starting to invade every culture but do not think it is socially accepted everywhere. Do not forget either that in arranged marriage cultures, many men and women do have the chance to say 'no' to prospective partners, even thought the West often chooses not to accept that.

The purpose of dating is to meet someone we like on a romantic and personal level but dating can also mean casual sex too. Lets not be high handed here, there are plenty of people of both sexes for which dating is nothing more than physical contact. This can be due to age, attitude and outlook as well as desire. Its easy to take the moral high ground but people like to experiment sexually and like to find out just how compatible they are with someone else as much as about themselves physically before thinking about committing to someone. An to be honest why not. First sex on a wedding night is a romantic notion of decades past, but the idea that you could be married for life to a sexually incompatible person is terrifying to many.

Modern generations are far more liberated than preceding post war generations and consequently their priorities and check lists when dating are very different. Post AIDS, it is true that the most recent generations cannot be compared directly with the 60's generations in terms of free sex and open relationships due to simple health factors. Therefore dating does adapt with each new generation. New attitudes develop every 10 to 15 years so dating is a dynamic that has no presets you can argue. However, I come back to the same part of the equation as before, dating is a test of compatibility with the same long term goal, longer term or permanent union between two people.

The real change has been in recent years with the creation and development of a professional dating industry. From advisers and lifestyle experts to dating coaches and relationship counselors, to dating books and self-help videos. Then you have the plethora of dating agencies both on and off the Internet all aimed at help bringing people together. Dating hasn't gone anywhere, the desire for people to meet others is as strong as ever, and its become international due to new communication methods. Its now possible for people in Washington DC and Kuala Lumpur to get chatting online in seconds and form some meaningful relationship within a few hours. So all is not bad.

Like it or not, we are still the serious dating people we always were, and we still crave relationship stability. Skeptics can argue all they like that people don't want to marry anymore but I disagree, I think we just have different standards. It perhaps just takes more work in our dating lives, that's all.


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