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Dating and Marriage - History of American Dating

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The history of American dating started with good old-fashioned courtship. Courtship is now a word of the past in American society. However, it played an important role in history and it has led us to where we are today.

Courtship or to court has several different meanings. According to Webster's dictionary, courtship is defined as "the social activities that occur when people are developing a romantic relationship that could lead to engagement and marriage." The verb to court has another definition. It is defined as "to woo" and to woo means to seek the love of another with the thoughts of marriage in mind. Webster's dictionary states courting is "socializing between unmarried men and women." Before 1920, courtship was when young men would "court" young women in their home with parental supervision. In the 1920's, men started asking women out on a "traditional date" several days in advance to go to dinner, dance, or movie. Courting first started in the era where marriages were arranged. Courtship was for the sole purpose of two people of marriageable age to get to know each other better in order to find out if their personalities and interests were the same before decisions were made regarding marriage. Through courting, the two people became acquaintance, formed a friendship, earned mutual respect, and would hopefully find love. Courting was not something people did merely for fun; it was more like a business proposition. Ultimately, the parents of the bride and groom were the main decision makers in the marriage process. However, the couple and their feelings did play an important role in making the final decision regarding marriage. Still, families met to discuss how the arranged marriage would benefit not just the bride and groom but also the respective union.

What was once referred to as "courting" or "courtship" is now called dating. The main objective behind courtship was marriage. Today, in American society, there are several types of dates and several purposes for dating.

The most common type of date is the traditional one where two people go out to dinner and a movie. Another type of date is a group date. A group date consists of several people gathering together to enjoy the same entertainment. Generally, a group date is couples paired off with one another but on occasion there may be single people mixed in. The other type of date is the blind date. A blind date is where neither party has met before the actual first date. Blind dates are set up through a third party and tend to be quite stressful.

Oddly enough, geography plays a big part in the types of dating. Dating is more conservative in certain parts of the United States. In small towns, single people tend to only have one relationship at a time and choose to focus their attention on one person. Whereas, a big city single person may date several people at once, with some being nothing more than a sexual partner. The Midwest, for instance, is known for being more marriage-oriented than say big coastal cities such as Los Angeles.

A typical American date consists of a drink, dinner, movie, etc. Traditional ladies generally expect the man to take care of all expenses. A nice dinner doesn't



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