Italians maintain a conservative approach to dating. Also, inviting friends or relatives during a date is not uncommon. More modern approaches such as blind dates, speed dating and dating websites are not as popular as abroad, and are not considered very effective by the majority of the population. However, social network members outnumber the European average, and they may use Facebook for dating purposes too.
People of different sexes are not allowed to "mix freely" in public. Since 1979, the state has become a religious autocracy, and imposes Islamic edicts on matters such as dating. Clerics run officially sanctioned internet dating agencies with strict rules. Prospective couples can have three meetings: two with strict supervision inside the center, and the third being a "brief encounter on their own"; afterwards, they can either (1) choose to marry or (2) agree to never see each other again. This has become the subject of a film by Iranian filmmaker Leila Lak. Iran has a large population of young people with 70 percent of the 83-million population being under the age of thirty. However, economic hardship discourages marriage, and divorce rates have increased in Tehran to around a quarter of marriages, even though divorce is taboo. While the Iranian government "condemns dating and relationships", it promotes marriage with (1) online courses (2) "courtship classes" where students can "earn a diploma" after sitting through weekly tests and "hundreds of hours of education" (3) "marriage diplomas" (4) matchmaking and arranged marriages. Authorities push a conservative approach and shun unmarried romantic relationships and encourage "traditional match-making". But young people have disobeyed the restrictions; one said "It is wiser to have different relationships" and believed in defying religious rules which suggest "short-term illegitimate relationships harm dignity." Adultery can be punished by death. While youths can flout selected restrictions, there are almost no instances in which unmarried people move in together. There have been efforts to promote Sigheh (temporary marriage).
So let's call dating what it really is: a way to get to know a complete stranger to see if they're a possible romantic partner for the long haul. It isn't an excuse to "test the merchandise," or "see how I feel in six months.". It's really a method, and a pretty intelligent one at that, to get to know someone before you bond physically with another person.
The prospect of love often entails anxiety, sometimes with a fear of commitment  and a fear of intimacy for persons of both sexes. One woman said "being really intimate with someone in a committed sense is kind of threatening" and described love as "the most terrifying thing." In her Psychology Today column, research scientist, columnist, and author Debby Herbenick compared it to a roller coaster:
From the mail I receive and the questions from young people, it is clear that dating nowadays has strayed from its legitimate purpose. What concerns people about dating now is sensual gratification and sex. No wonder there are so many people who are hurt by their dating experiences. Dating should be something that is full of joy and happiness. When you know the legitimate purpose of dating, you can enjoy your dating experience.
Young people engaging in premarital sex are acting like sheep to the slaughter, totally oblivious to the real facts of life. Dating should be preceded by wholesome group activities; God created us as social beings, placing a longing in each individual for a member of the opposite sex. The purpose of dating should not be considered merely a pre-marriage ritual designed to prepare one for marriage, but instead (1) to develop wholesome interactions with the opposite sex in contrast to the world's dating games, totally mired in the lures of temptation and emotion described by James 1:14-15; (2) to help individuals to see their own strengths and weaknesses, gradually understanding themselves; (3) to develop practice in serving others, and (4) to discover the person one will marry. The more similarities there are in a relationship, the less likelihood that conflicts will emerge. A key ingredient in the dating process is faith in God's purpose in each person's life. The relationship one has with God takes precedence over any relationship with any other human being.
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.