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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 fashion, 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 ...


Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

How can I set realistic expectations for dating?

  • People go into dating relationships with a variety of desires and expectations (psychological, social, physical, etc) they are looking to see fulfilled.
  • People's desires and wishes come strongly into play as dating relationships begin; they determine to whom people are attracted, and they are also frequently projected onto potential partners, making those potential partners appear more (or less) desirable than they might actually turn out to be.
  • The idealization of early dating and the thrill of early sexual relations tend to wear off as people come to know each other better.
  • Because of that, it's a good idea to start out your dating process by taking time to develop an appropriate dating mindset including thinking through what one wants to accomplish through dating, whether one's goals and expectations are realistic, and how one is being perceived by others.
  • An early question to ask yourself is whether you think dating should be a means to an end (of finding a lasting committed relationship) or whether dating should be more of an exploratory project you engage in to have fun and grow as a person.
  • You may find that taking time out early on to learn about yourself and the way your personality works will prove a valuable investment because accurate self-knowledge can help you to better identify compatible personality characteristics to look for in your dating partners.
  • Just as compatible personality and behavior are important things to be aware of in a potential partner, so too are compatible goals.

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What are some tips for successful dating?

  • Be initially self-centered. This means to be more focused on whether or not you like the person you're dating than whether or not they like you. Pay careful attention to what you are feeling and how your emotions react to what your date does.
  • Have modest expectations. Chances are good that your date will be nice but nothing special. Relax and enjoy the dating process.
  • Expect to be rejected some of the time. Rejection early on in a dating relationship is not personal, but rather is all about what is happening in your date's mind.
  • Put your best foot forward. You don't need to be different than you are. How you carry yourself is ultimately more important than how you look.
  • Have a plan. It's nice to have a plan for the evening defined in your head (where you'll go, what you might eat) so that your date isn't forced to figure things out for you both at the spur of the moment.
  • Have fun. You're out on a date to enjoy yourself and see what can develop in the moment. Don't burden the situation with neediness from your past or hopes for the future.

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What are the steps of the dating process?

  • Meeting someone face to face for the first time tests whether romance is possible.
  • Negotiating from one date towards a second and then a third such that intimacy grows between the two of you and that no one gets too overwhelmed too quickly is an even trickier process.
  • Getting around to a physical, face to face first date with a potential partner is an important step in determining your mutual compatibility.
  • People vary in terms of how they like to set up their first dates. While some people set up formal intimate dinner dates, many prefer their first contacts to be short casual public events such as going out for coffee or walking in a park.
  • While on your date, encourage your date to talk and practice being a good listener.
  • Be on the lookout for people whose goals do not match your own.
  • Stay calm if someone rejects you.
  • Growing a relationship involves growing intimacy, which involves vulnerability.
  • At some point in any growing relationship there will come a time when past secrets will have to be disclosed to one's partner if one's relationship is to be honest.
  • Unworkable, dangerous or unhealthy relationships can generally be identified by paying attention to one's emotions which will become persistently upset with regard to the relationship.
  • You and your partner can avoid some of the pitfalls that relationships can fall into by learning to communicate well with each other, by educating yourselves about common ways relationships change over time, and common relationship problems that can occur, and by doing what you can to not take your relationship for granted.

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