There is a general perception that men and women approach dating differently, hence the reason why advice for each sex varies greatly, particularly when dispensed by popular magazines. For example, it is a common belief that heterosexual men often seek women based on beauty and youth. Psychology researchers at the University of Michigan suggested that men prefer women who seem to be "malleable and awed", and prefer younger women with subordinate jobs such as secretaries and assistants and fact-checkers rather than executive-type women. Online dating patterns suggest that men are more likely to initiate online exchanges (over 75%) and extrapolate that men are less "choosy", seek younger women, and "cast a wide net". In a similar vein, the stereotype for heterosexual women is that they seek well-educated men who are their age or older with high-paying jobs. Evolutionary psychology suggests that "women are the choosier of the genders" since "reproduction is a much larger investment for women" who have "more to lose by making bad choices."
Several months ago I was invited by the Sichuan University of Finance and Economics and the Sichuan University of Nationalities to conduct a seminar on “Setting Boundaries in Dating.” The purpose of the seminar was to provide an opportunity for dialog and reflection with the participants, who are expected to get married within the next decade, and to help ensure that when that time comes they would use their utmost wisdom in making the most important decision of their lives.
Since people dating often do not know each other well, there is the risk of violence, including date rape. According to one report, there was a 10% chance of violence between students happening between a boyfriend and girlfriend, sometimes described as "intimate partner violence", over a 12–month period. A 2004 estimate was that 20% of U.S. high school girls aged 14–18 were "hit, slapped, shoved or forced into sexual activity". Violence while dating isn't limited to any one culture or group or religion, but remains an issue in different countries. (It is usually the female who is the victim, but there have been cases where males have been hurt as well.) Sara McCorquodale suggests that women meeting strangers on dates meet initially in busy public places, share details of upcoming dates with friends or family so they know where they'll be and who they'll be with, avoid revealing one's surname or address, and conduct searches on them on the Internet prior to the date. One advisor suggested: Don't leave drinks unattended; have an exit plan if things go badly; and ask a friend to call you on your cell phone an hour into the date to ask how it's going.
Wrong dating techniques destroy personalities and character, but proper dating encourages the constructive developing of these two elements. The type of dating that does develop personality is the kind where people can get together, play together, and talk together with no adverse effects. Only destructive things happen in the back seat of a car, parked on a dark roadside.
As many of you know, my wife Sue and I have been married for more than thirty years. We have a daughter who is 27, and we have two grandsons. We have a daughter who is 25, and is single. Our son is 17, and of course, he is single as well. The reason I mention that, for those of you who did not know, is that the subject which I have to talk to you about today is one that I have been thinking about for many years. I have been back and forth, so to speak, on how to approach the subject. In the last year or so, we have had a lot of questions about this subject—so many questions that I thought it was important to speak on it. This subject directly affects my family, and has directly, or is directly, affecting anyone that is at least 16 years old. I think you will find this subject interesting. Please do not tune out if you think it is not directed to you because there are principles in it we can all learn from. The subject in one word is "Dating."
Dating may also involve two or more people who have already decided that they share romantic or sexual feelings toward each other. These people will have dates on a regular basis, and they may or may not be having sexual relations. This period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement. Some cultures[which?] require people to wait until a certain age to begin dating, which has been a source of controversy.