Having a relationship with someone is important in all cultures, however the process of dating is different according to countries. Thus, culture affects the way people date, suggesting various kinds of dates from heavily supervised meetings to evenings spent at the movies. Dating is seen as both a complex and simple matter, the difference between the Western world and other civilizations making it very intriguing as some dating rituals are extremely liberal, some are less free of constraints, while others are cut down to old fashioned gatherings, or are even illegal.
Dating Customs on Various Continents
Dating in Australia for example is illustrated by teens going out in large groups without really forming couples until they reach 18 or 19 years of age. Here, it is not the boys who often make the first step of asking girls to go on a date with them, rather the girls take this part and they also take the responsibility of paying for the date. The most common dating places preferred by couples are dinner parties, barbecues, or the beach.
Dating in Europe is again, sort of a group event. In Finland for example, groups as large as thirty teens take part in an event together, such as going to the movies. Slumber parties are preferred by the young living in Italy, as well as Switzerland. At such parties, teens gather at someone’s home and remain over night after the party has come to an end. Many Spanish teens join groups or clubs that bring people together connected by common interests, be it camping or cycling. The dating part however is done one-to-one, both sides asking each other out and splitting the expenses associated with a particular evening.
Russians are very fond of dancing places, most dates taking place at dance parties, balls or at clubs where the young ones have meals and chat in groups. In small towns of Russia, teens get together in certain areas downtown, such as around fountains. A particular dating custom is set in Kiev, where women do not like to shake hands for they perceive it as a rather unfeminine gesture. This is strongly connected to the fact that women do not hold hands with men when being on a date, but instead they hold onto their arms.
In the United Kingdom, teens do rarely have the courage to ask someone on a date by themselves, so such interactions usually take place in groups, where people are being supported by their friends into making this gesture or they rely on alcohol to acquire the confidence to admit they like someone.
Dating is extremely strict in Middle East since most dates are in fact supervised gatherings arranged by parents for the purpose of the young meeting one another before marriage. In Afghanistan, opportunities to meet are rare since young people don’t get the chance to go on a date, but they are introduced to each other by their families after their matrimonial union is already settled. Schools are separate for boys and girls in this country, and they are even forbidden to go outside past a certain hour, for girls the curfew time is at 7:00 P.M., whilst the boys curfew is at 11:00 P.M.
In Iran, people are even stricter as dating is completely illegal. Teens spend their life separated until they reach the appropriate age set for marriage. Afterwards, their families make the introductions and on rare occasions, the event is followed by a period of courtship.
In Central and South America, teens are not allowed to date until they are at least 15 years old. Dating takes place in large groups, hence it is a common occurrence for teens to go out together in local clubs, to eat and chat, or to go dancing at weekend dance parties.
As far as Africa is concerned, in many parts of this continent dates are very strict because parents arrange their sons’ and daughters’ marriages, and even if couples are allowed to date, they are well aware of the fact that their families have already chosen a partner for them and they cannot break out from the relationship-to-be even if they do not approve of their partner after a few dates.
In most Asian countries young people do not leave the house they grew up in until they are married. Newlyweds live with their partner’s parents for a while until they get a place for themselves.
In Japan and Korea, dating doesn’t usually begin before college, when boys alone do the asking and accept the cost of the date. Most high school students don’t go on dates, nor to parties, but choose to spend their time studying. In China, some parents still arrange their sons’ and daughters’ marriages, but most young people are free to choose their partner by themselves, dating beginning sometime around the age of 20. Chinese people get married a lot faster than couples from other countries, most dates never reaching a number higher than one or two.
As people can see, differences in dating customs are highly influenced by religion and parental control, but in America, dating is rather conventional and movie-like. The term "date" makes more sense when talking about American people as teens from U.S.A live in a much more relaxed society where they can be themselves and behave unconstrained by their parents or religious traditions. Dates, as seen with young people in America, are a way of testing a potential partner before making an actual commitment and to determine whether a particular person is compatible with them or not. Teens in America start dating really early, even before high school, and they usually go to see a movie or have a drink/meal at the local diner.
Dating people online has become an extremely popular custom that has developed as more and more people have figured out the advantages of using the internet as a way of finding love. People of all ages submit to dating online, teens and grownups alike searching for that special person by setting up accounts on online dating sites and browsing through other people’s profiles. On dating websites, singles are provided the opportunity of learning a few things about various potential partners, making their decision of contacting them based on dating profile descriptions and photos.
Out of the many countries where people practice online dating, the United Kingdom is perhaps the most keen on online dating since most English people prefer to browse on the internet in order to find dates instead of trying to meet other persons in bars, clubs, parks or at parties.
Dating may vary across the globe, countries being known for peculiar and outrageous dating traditions, yet as time passes, people develop new dating customs, such as dating with the help of the internet. Although this form of dating is mostly practiced in the Western civilization, no one can tell for sure what other customs will emerge as the world changes, and whether strict dating will come against some people’s right of choosing whatever partner they see fit for themselves.