In the West, we are accustomed to think of dating as casual as a coffee or as extravagant as an expensive dinner. It usually starts in teenage years and progresses into adulthood, with few or many different dating partners. There are no strict rules around it really, aside from the odd parental influence. This relaxed outlook has greatly transformed since the ancient times when men would raid villages and capture their wives. Not exactly romantic!
Though as time went on chivalry was born giving us the idea today that men should pay for dinner and charm the lady. Romance steadily became important and between 1830 and 1900 firm rules were set to govern the dating ritual. It was named courtship and eligible men and women could write their names on cards to leave for who they admired. If a date was accepted their was a chaperon in company at all times until the decision was made to wed.
Today is very different and there are no strict rules, just beliefs. Although women still appreciate the chivalry (wink, wink). Around the world, however, it is not as relaxed, there are a variety of different customs and rules surrounding the dating experience. In Afghanistan there are rigid curfews (girls 7pm and boys 11pm) and schools are gender specific. Boys and girls are not mixed and really have no time to meet, leaving it up to their parents to arrange their marriage. While in Iran it is actually against the law to date, teens are separated until they are at the age to marry. Then, parents will introduce them to who they will be suited.
In Australia, teens usually hang out in large groups up until they are 18 then separate to begin dating. There are even displays of gender reversal as it is not uncommon for a girl to ask the guy out and even pay. In Europe dating is a large scale group event. Slumber parties, dances, clubs, and various public gatherings, boys and girls all get to know each other together. In Spain there are groups for people to join that are dedicated to certain interests. Both boys and girls ask each other out and usually split the bill.
Those from Central and South America also favor group dating and club outings. Dating however is not permitted before the age of 15. Finally, in Japan and Korea studying is the norm in high school and dating does not begin until college. At that point men are supposed to ask the lady for a date and pay for everything. In China, it is common to only date one or two people before getting married.
Around the world relationships and marriage are important traditions that continue to live on. The dating experience however, is entirely dependent on where you live. There is no “hooking up” in half the world (tell that one to Jersey Shore!) but there are also deeply entrenched cultural traditions that for us have faded into the past. What we do know is that society is dynamic and will constantly be changing.