Originally Posted by River
Dating itself is a short term activity, perhaps. But, traditionally, dating is the activity of spending time with a person (or persons) in order to see if they both (or more) want to commit to a deeper and more enduring relationship. That's what dating is (was?!).
. . .
I'm not a big fan of the word "dating," but it is in such common usage ... and we yet have no popular alternative to choose. And 'dating' cannot mean anything if it means anything at all. It is clear that an elephant is an elephant and not a zebra, right?
I recall reading a long forum post over at OKCupid about the term. Apparently the word "dating" means something very different in Europe. Lots of Americans think of it as you do: "spending time with a person (or persons) in order to see if they both (or more) want to commit to" something more serious. To me that includes a casual cup of coffee or cocktail just to get to know someone, going out to dinner, a visit to a museum, what-have-you, but I know a lot of people feel that dating is a "try out" period before moving forward. Personally, I don't like to feel like I'm auditioning someone for a bigger role in my life. I also view dating as something you can do without trying
to make it more serious. Like, when I say, I date so-and-so, we go out and do things together but we do not have a commitment to a long term relationship. We enjoy each other's company and can be dating for quite some time but aren't officially boyfriend-and-girlfriend.
According to the Europeans that posted to that OKC thread, dating is something you do after
you have a commitment. They would never call a meeting to have coffee with someone a date. They don't think of going to the movies with someone you're still getting to know "dating." I wish I could provide the link but their forum search is really bad and I don't have time to find it. It was huge. As much as there seemed to be this definite American/European divide on what people think of as a date, there were lots and lots of variations and individual viewpoints on the American side.
I know lots of people dislike the word "date" altogether. The OP in this thread asked if short term dating is moral. That question confuses me. Morals are subjective and culturally-based, anyway, but... how would it not be moral?