nycindie said this (below) in post 7 here:
I'm reposting her words here so they can be discussed in this thread more readily.
"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?"