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Introduction to Dating

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 4th 2016

The term 'dating' refers to a process through which a person gets together with another person to explore the possibilities of romantic and sexual coupling. People generally start dating in their middle teen years some time after puberty (biological sexual maturation) has started. The majority of people at first date in an exploratory couple on beach at sunsetfashion, forming intense but temporary unions with one or more people in series. Teenage exploration dating tends to turn into more goal-directed dating as people age into adulthood and experience social and internal pressures to 'get married', settle down and have a family. Though most adults do end up forming more permanent committed relationships (which may involve marriage and/or children), not all who do remain faithful to their relationships. Some substantial minority of married adults continue to date after marriage by forming adulterous liaisons and affairs. While many committed relationships do thrive, a number also fail due to divorce, death and other circumstances. The survivors of these relationships, bruised as they are, often find themselves motivated to go back into the dating pool to try their luck at relationship building again.

People can be motivated to date each other for a variety of reasons, both healthy and unhealthy. People are social beings who desire the companionship of others and feel lonely without it. People are sexual beings who crave sexual relationships and the physical warmth of another body. People are romantic and spiritual beings who wish to care for other people and to be cared for by other people. People are also drawn to the intensity, drama and excitement that accompanies new relationships. Some people feel incomplete and inadequate as single people, and are drawn towards dating so they can feel more legitimate and less ashamed of themselves. Still others look for a sort of salvation in relationships with other people that they may or may not be able to find. Some or all of these motives, and more still, are likely occurring in the typical person who is interested in dating.

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    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    truthful article - Canman - Feb 2nd 2009

    I am currently taking a Socialology class. While I have only been in the class for a few weeks this article is supported by some of the things I have learned about such as the rational choice theory. I would say this is a very truthful article, but that it is beyond anyone who has not studied societies' impact on all humans.

    Umm...No - Margret - Jan 29th 2009

    im sry, but u r obviously not a sexual being. for one your name is bill, and another, you wouldn't be saying this on a relationships site if u were.

    Goal-Oriented Dating - Andrea - Feb 1st 2008
    I think that that is a really lame idea the people date with the intetion of climbing some sort of social ladder. And even lamer when you figure marriage and children into the occassion. I wonder how many divorces that causes?

    sexual being - bill - Dec 18th 2007
    I am definitley a sexual being - lol

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