If you tell a teenager that "necking" or "making out" is wrong, that it should never be indulged in outside of marriage, that it robs his future marriage of much of its possible joys, delights, and blissful happiness in marriage—the young man or woman will probably look at you rather pityingly, wondering how you could be so naïve! He would probably reverse the truth and shoot back, "Where have you been for the last hundred years, that you do not know the facts of life yet?" This is the attitude that many teens have toward adults.
There is concern that young people's views of marriage have changed because of economic opportunities, with many choosing deliberately not to get married,[88] as well as young marrieds who have decided not to have children, or to postpone having them.[89] Cohabiting relationships are tolerated more often.[6] Communities where people live but do not know each other well are becoming more common in China like elsewhere, leading to fewer opportunities to meet somebody locally without assistance.[89] Divorce rates are rising in cities such as Shanghai, which recorded 27,376 divorces in 2004, an increase of 30% from 2003.[89]
The game show If You Are the One, titled after Chinese personal ads, featured provocative contestants making sexual allusions and the show reportedly ran afoul of authorities and had to change its approach.[78] The two-host format involves a panel of 24 single women questioning a man to decide if he'll remain on the show; if he survives, he can choose a girl to date; the show gained notoriety for controversial remarks and opinions such as model Ma Nuo saying she'd prefer to "weep in a BMW than laugh on a bike", who was later banned from making appearances.[79]
Some couples will introduce each other to the important people in their life: parents, family, friends, mentors, spiritual community, etc. Some couples may travel together. Some couples will try living together (the pros and cons of doing this are an entirely different blog post, and we are looking for someone to write intelligently about this so if you are interested in doing this, please let us know). Some couples find it helpful to go to pre-engagement counselling.
By waiting and waiting and waiting to commit to someone, our capacity for love shrinks and withers. This doesn't mean that women or men should marry the first reasonable person to come along, or someone with whom they are not in love. But we should, at a much earlier age than we do now, take a serious attitude toward dating and begin preparing ourselves to settle down. For it's in the act of taking up the roles we've been taught to avoid or postpone––wife, husband, mother, father––that we build our identities, expand our lives, and achieve the fullness of character we desire.
Do you have the right attitude—the right state of mind—a positive outlook? Do you believe God, when He says He will never forsake you? When you complain about not having someone to date, or when you complain about not being married yet, who is it are you blaming? You are blaming God, and you do not want to do that. I know you do not realize that you are blaming God.
While people tend to date others close to their own age, it's possible for older men to date younger women. In many countries, the older-man-younger-woman arrangement is seen as permissible, sometimes with benefits. It's looked on more positively in the U.S. than in China; older men are described as more knowledgeable sexually and intellectually, supportive, skilled in the ways of women, and financially more secure so there's "no more going Dutch."[186] In China, older men with younger women are more likely to be described as "weird uncles" rather than "silver foxes."[186] One Beijing professor reportedly advised his male students to delay dating:
Dating as an institution is a relatively recent phenomenon which has mainly emerged in the last few centuries. From the standpoint of anthropology and sociology, dating is linked with other institutions such as marriage and the family which have also been changing rapidly and which have been subject to many forces, including advances in technology and medicine. As humans societies have evolved from hunter-gatherers into civilized societies, there have been substantial changes in relations between people, with perhaps one of a few remaining biological constants being that both adult women and men must have sexual intercourse for human procreation to happen.[3]
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