Different Styles of American Dating

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Dating may be formal--going out to a fancy restaurant--or it may be as casual as an afternoon walk in a park. The two people may have known each other most of their lives, or they may have just met.

Whatever the variations, a date is an opportunity to get to know one another, discover common interests and develop a friendship. It is a chance to find out whether that special spark is there to indicate whether the relationship has long-term potential.

Classic Ways of Meeting Your Potential Date

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A generation ago, people met potential dates through work, mutual friends or some shared interest such as church or a club. These are all still good ways to meet potential dating partners, as it means you will have something in common with your date. A blind date, in which you go out with someone a friend thinks you may like, is also a way to meet a potential date with whom you at least have your mutual friend in common.

Speed Dating

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Speed dating is set up by an organization, and people register to attend. Half of the registrants are seated at stations, and the other half move from station to station, spending three to five minutes talking. This makes it possible to meet a large number of people in one evening and have a dozen or more "first dates." People participating in speed dating may exchange contact information for further dating with those they are interested in. Critics of speed dating say the method is too unnatural and rarely results in successful connections.

Online Dating

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Online dating makes it possible to search through a large number of posted profiles, looking for people whose likes, hobbies, beliefs and goals are of interest. Online dating widens the field of potential dates.

When meeting someone first encountered online, consider safety. Always know the real name and address of your date and meet in a public place. A trusted friend should know where you are going and how long you will be. If the date is to be longer than just a quick coffee, set up a "safe call" to a friend at a pre-set time.

Casual or Serious?

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In considering what style of dating to adopt, it is important to know what your purpose in dating is. Are you looking for a casual dating partner with whom to have some fun, or are you looking for a life partner? Are you comfortable dating several people at a time, or do you prefer to date one person exclusively, exploring only that relationship? Dating people whose purpose is similar to yours will be more satisfying to both parties.

Cross-Cultural Dating

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It can be rewarding to get to know someone from a different culture. However cross-cultural dating can be more complicated. Take the time to research dating practices in your date's culture. Traditional Italians, for example, expect you to meet your date's parents before going out, while in Russia, a date is a formal event. In many Middle Eastern cultures, it is considered inappropriate for a man and a woman to go out alone. Your date will appreciate your effort to understand her culture.