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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » What Does "Dating" Look Like For You?

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Author Topic: What Does "Dating" Look Like For You?
Executive Director & Founder
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In case you don't have the historical perspective, "dating" is a term (like "courtship") that has tended to mean a whole lot of different things over time, not any one thing.

"Dating" -- and let's say we mean any given process of connecting or trying to connect with someone else with the aim of creating and/or having a romantic relationship -- tends to look and go differently from decade to decade, generation to generation. Of course, sometimes, those differences are minor, or may not be there at all, for instance, my sense is the way a lot of you "date" now isn't really that different from what it was like for myself and my friends in the 80's. Perhaps obviously, dating also can differ, too, from peer group to peer group, community to community.

I feel like we should be talking more about this, so I wonder if y'all would just be open to just talking about what "dating" has been like for you? How it's generally gone, what it's involved, what you feel marks the change from "dating" to a more serious or cemented romantic relationship (if anything). If people older or younger than you have expressed a perception of how you date that's negative or positive -- or have suggested they did it right, while you're doing it wrong -- I'd be interested in hearing about that, as well.

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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I have always used dating to mean "in a romantic relationship." Saying "I'm dating him/her" is synonymous with "I'm in a relationship with him/her." I feel like most people I know think of it in that way to, but I'm not sure.
Before reading this, it never completely occurred to me that it could be used to mean "seeing if we should be in a relationship," but I can see how that would make sense.

As far as how dating goes, for me I feel like my relationships have always kind of been from a "jump right in" approach. My first experience dating/being in a relationship/kissing/etc, etc. lasted for a year and a half and ended on good terms. All of my relationships have also always been exclusive/monogamous (and it went without saying- dating implied, to us, that that's how it would be). Again, myself and I think most people I know view dating as being exclusive, anything else is viewed as an "open relationship" or something of that sort.

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moonlight bouncing off water
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I've never dated anyone (by anyone's definition), but I'm happy to give my perspective on this. To me if you "go out" with some one that means you go on one individual date with them, if you are "going out with" some one this is usually synonymous with dating, or it can mean that you both see/ may see other people, "dating" means an exclusive relationship, you only see them and they only see you. If you are "going out with" some one you may or more often may not call them your boyfriend/girlfriend, but if you are dating you almost always do.

An interesting note my mother (and other women her age) always calls my female friends (I'm also female) my girlfriends, which bothers me. To her it simply means my friends who are girls, which is an accurate description, but to me it means girls I am dating, which is entirely inaccurate (and will make it difficult to explain when I actually have a girlfriend). Friends of mine have experienced similar, for example a friend of mine talked to her Aunt about her then girlfriend [trying to discreetly come out] but her Aunt simply thought she meant her friend. I have also found that my dad and other males never use "girlfriend" in this manner and that my male friends are never referred to as my boyfriends.


I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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Dating has always meant to me some sort of monogamous relationship. When I say I'm dating someone, I imply that we have chosen to be with one another, at least for the foreseeable future. It may not have the boyfriend-girlfriend title, but the idea is still there.

Going on a "date" doesn't entail this for me. It is the first time going out and it could go either way (bad or good). Going on a date with multiple people at this point seems completely natural as you have not committed to anything yet. But as soon as multiple dates have gone by, one starts to dedicate oneself to a single individual (hopefully) because they really like them or something. I always hope when I'm dating someone, it is something exclusive and possibly develop into something more.

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity." -Albert Einstein

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hmmm i don't know it seems dating has changed over the years. My older sister and i have talked about this a few times. And she remembered dating in middle and high school being much more casual. You could still do stuff with other people if you weren't totally offical. Now maybe teens today just go right for it lol, but it seems to me that dating is a bit more serious.
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I'm 16 and when I hear the word dating I think more about testing the waters out with someone. My boyfriend and I have been going out for a long time so I don't really use the term "dating" for out relationship anymore, I just say he's my boyfriend.
For me, dating is the part of the relationship where you make an effort to set up social situations and see how it goes. It turns less into "dating" and more into having a relationship when you can just hang out naturally with the other person and not worry so much about what your plans are.

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To me, dating is basically going out with someone in order to get to know him/her. You can date more than one person at the same time, because you're just figuring out which is the most suitable partner (if you're looking for a relationship). Being in a relationship means (to me, because I know it's different for others) to choose one person and be with him/her exclusively.
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Here, the term 'dating' isn't really used. If you're in a relationship with a person, you're 'going out' with them. If you aren't, then you're not. To me though, from watching American TV shows and movies growing up, I've always gotten the impression that 'dating' means you are casually going out on dates with them, just getting to know them etc. As I said, it isn't really used here, so I wouldn't be too sure. Just thought I'd through my 2 cents in [Cool]

[ 10-10-2010, 02:18 PM: Message edited by: Kugelfisch95 ]

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I'd say that "dating" and "going out" are the same for me, with both meaning that you're in some kind of a relationship with the other person and it's probably an exclusive one. Could be serious or not so serious, but if you're really not sure what the two of you "are" then I wouldn't call that dating, and after a while, if you've been together a long time or it's gotten more serious then you might still call it dating. I've been with my boyfriend over a year and a half and we don't really say we're dating, I'd just say that he's my boyfriend, but occasionally we'll still use the term. And we probably use it less than some people would because we go to different schools and only see each other every couple of weeks during the semester. I also "dated" one other guy in high school (meaning we went out several times, but it didn't last very long), and I have gone on dates with a couple of other people but those were really only one-time things so I wouldn't really call that "dating" either.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that dating seems kind of uncommon in college! Or, at least, it seems backwards from what I would think--a lot of people tend to hook up or have sex with someone right off the bat, and then later decide if they're going to be in a relationship. Which isn't something I'd ever be comfortable with, but it seems like a trend.

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So, out of curiosity, if you're not really sure about someone yet, but are seeing each other, and haven't made any kind of exclusivity agreement...what do you call it?

aaa259: I'd actually say that starting a relationship (or not) with some kind of sex or physicality is fairly common with dating (or whatever you want to call it!) through a lot of adult life for many people, bot just in college. It's just that college is often when it starts, and a lot of the older people who talk about this stuff often didn't stay single for long or got married, so they don't realize what dating (or whatever) is like after one's 20s.

That doesn't mean it HAS to happen that way, mind, but IME, it's common.

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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From the people I am around "dating" is doing things in a more structured manner (a day, location, activity) to get into or continue a romantic relationship with someone. I mostly haven't/don't "date" people (I've been on a few), I mostly just "hang out" with them. Whether I care for them romantically or not. I don't know why. It doesn't seem to be my style.

We are all made of Star Stuff...
-Carl Sagan

...Their eyes beheld, first of all things, the stars of heaven.

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Dating means a lot of different things to me.

My first relationship was more of a, "I think you're cute, you think I'm cute... let's try and see if we're compatible" sort of thing. It was called 'dating', we held hands and kissed and went to a movie and hung out once or twice... and that was about the extent of it. It ended in a (sort of) mutual agreement that we were better as friends.

My second was different from the first in that we already knew there was mutual attraction, we were already really good friends... We just ended up hanging out more and trying to plan things to do once and a while. We held hands and kissed. There was an agreement of exclusivity from the start, even though it wasn't said outright. This was, of course, also called 'dating.'

And then my third threw me off balance. Unlike the first two where it was more of a "we'll figure something to do on Friday" for the first date, he asked me if I was free. We went on a date, talked about things. And then at the end he asked if I'd like to go out again next week, which was different from the first two where another date was simply expected. We went on a few more dates before anything became 'official.' And this was ALSO called 'dating.'

Then I have friends who don't actually go on dates, they just initiate a more romantic/sexual relationship... and this is another branch of 'dating'...

So... really, in my circle of friends, 'dating' simply means in a relationship of some sort that is (or has the intent of becoming) romantic/sexual.

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For me the term dating me going out on dates. It doesn't have anything to do about exclusivity. I think you can be dating many people and if I said that I'm dating so and so, it would mean that we are casually going on dates and hanging out. I would say that someone's my boyfriend or that we are exclusive if I meant we are actually exclusive. (makes me think of the 1950's when people said they were "going steady") I don't really think labels are important however as long as all parties involved understand what's going on.

A term I do find confusing however is "talking." As in "he and I are 'talking.'" I'm from the South, so I don't know if people use it in any other regions of the US. I take that as the step before dating. As in "talking" about dating or hanging out basically. I really think it can be a confusing term, yet lots of people I know, use that term.

But how dating looks for me:

I was discussing in my Child and Family Development class about dating and how most people view dating. It really does follow a "script" most of the time. Like guy drives and pays for dinner, etc. It can be very sexist and homophobic way of thinking about dating. For me however, dating looks like going outside of the house. Going to the movies, park, anywhere. Doesn't matter who drives, pays, gets flowers, etc. But I don't view hanging out at the house as a date unless it's more one on one and we are just starting to see each other. If we are exclusive, then I don't think of hanging out at each others homes as a date unless we do something more "fancy" like making dinner at home, etc. Really, dates to me should be things that are not as routine as day to day hanging out with each other. They should be a bit more special and creative. I don't go on many dates however, I do just prefer to hang out with a guy I like just at each other's houses or with friends.

I hope that's not confusing to understand, haha. [Smile]

[ 10-27-2010, 09:29 PM: Message edited by: DreamCatches ]

Think of me, when you're out, when you're out there...

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