What is the point of dating?

JW takes umbrage at my suggestion that “Dating is the process of discerning whether you like, respect, and can see yourself building a life with someone”.

Saying that the point of dating is marriage-screening seems like saying that the point of sex is reproduction. It may be true from an evolutionary perspective that the point of sex (dating) is reproduction (marriage-screening)1, but at least from a male POV, we rarely have sex (date) thinking hoo boy I’d really like some offspring (marriage) out of this.

He then points out that women are “romantically cautious”. In fact, women are coming from a completely different place than men are regarding mating. By nature men generally are less discerning than women.

We didn’t even have dating until a few generations ago. It was understood that people got married and were expected to reproduce, not for their happiness but for the good and for the propagation of the species/society/family. A man could court a woman, but take her out without supervision? Ha. And have sex with her without consequence? Ahaha.

But social mores change, even if human nature doesn’t.  The pill and the sexual revolution changed the rules of the game. Suddenly, women were giving it away for cheap or free.

Women have actually lost power with the sexual revolution. Women weren’t built for that kind of relationship with men. It made them miserable.  It was never a good idea for women to have sex with anyone they fancied.

And it is probably not a good idea for women who want to eventually get married to date men that will never marry them or that would not make a good match.

So women, who have the most at stake, are the ones that need to set the rules of the mating process. Women need to be rational about this process because we have the most to lose.

Men, read this blog to understand what women want from you and what is important to them. Don’t read it thinking it describes men and their wants and needs.



Filed under Dating, Female dignity, Men

16 responses to “What is the point of dating?

  1. Bob

    I apologize if my questions are ignorant (because they are);I’m new here. If there are super-simple answers to these questions, I’d love to read them:
    * What is is that women have to lose?
    * Why is that risk unique to women?
    * What is important to women (collectively, I mean)?
    * What are women’s wants/needs (of men, I guess)?
    * What happens if marriage isn’t something a woman wants (but being in a committed relationship with a man is)?
    * What happens if a woman doesn’t want children or marriage?
    * How is any of this the same or different for lesbians?
    * Why are there snowflakes cascading across this page? (Makes me cold.)

    Thanks, Anna.


  2. JW

    Ha, not umbrage. I certainly wasn’t angered or offended by the statement, it just didn’t sit comfortably with me, so I had to think about it. Just working out the male vs. female perspective is all, trying to understand what women want from me and what is important to them, as you say. I love this blog in large part because it allows me to do that.

    I would like to hear you expand on this: “Women weren’t built for that kind of relationship with men. It made them miserable. It was never a good idea for women to have sex with anyone they fancied.” (I probably agree with you, I just crave more evidence.)

    The paragraph beginning “We didn’t even have dating until a few generations ago” also doesn’t sit comfortably with me. You won’t hear any disagreements from me about the shittyness and difficulty of dating (and romance more generally), but I don’t think we can look to what our great-grandparents did for evidence of what is right or normal or natural. You’d have to go back a couple tens of thousands of years more in time before I feel comfortable with any such conclusions. Was there no such thing as dating or sexual liberty back on the savannah? That’s an interesting question and I’d love to know the answer to it, I’m just saying that I wouldn’t take our great-grandparents’ culture as evidence for what is normal or natural.

    • Anna

      Well, I spent yesterday morning researching articles on cancer and sexual behavior (for work, not because I think it’s fun) so I can tell you that HPV, which is the most common STI, is linked to cervical, throat, mouth, penile, and other cancers. Apparently 25% of female teens in American have an STI. According to the CDC more women that men have gonorrhea and chlamydia than men do.

      So the prevalence of venereal disease and the misery it can cause (treatments, infertility, cancer) tells me being promiscuous can be bad for women’s physical health.

      As far as emotionally, when women are intimate with men, their brains release oxytocin, the bonding hormone. This is great when you’re in a committed relationship but to bond like that over and over again? I would think that would mean women would experience so much pain that eventually they’d start hardening their hearts to where even if they got into a long-term committed relationship they’d be incapable of the kind of intimacy that is the natural result of those relationships.

      And then there’s the socio-evolutionary reason sleeping around is a bad idea. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that there’s women that men will sleep with and then there’s women that men will marry. I don’t think most men want to marry women who have “been around the block” many times.

      Relevant poem.

      • JW

        Nice and scientific. Plus the poem. Awesome.

        Although I would ordinarily scoff at “two kinds of people” statements, that one seems fair enough. I also suspect it’s much the same on the male side: There are the jocks that women prefer when menstruating and then there’s the nurturing gentlemen that they prefer the rest of the month.

        • Anna

          There are the jocks that women prefer when menstruating and then there’s the nurturing gentlemen that they prefer the rest of the month.

          I want to ask you to unpack this but I think I’m afraid to know the answer.

      • JW

        Oh you haven’t heard of this? If you’re curious, try googling “women mate preferences cycle.” It is, to me, the single most irritating fact about the universe. (Okay, top 5.)

  3. Anna

    Most philosophies that frown on reproduction don’t survive. And societies that didn’t look after their sexually matured unmarried females until a suitable mate was found probably didn’t thrive as well as those who did.*
    This didn’t guarantee the couples’ happiness. That’s all I mean by this dating thing being a recent development.

    I think it’s pretty silly to think that the ancestors who managed to pass on their genes were having wild sex parties on the savannah.

    *By the way you can see this today as well. It is the college-educated who are getting married and forming stable families, while the uneducated (aka poorer) people are not getting married (but still reproducing).

    • JW

      Wild sex parties on the savannah… sounds like a good title for nerd porn.

      Now I’m really curious to know what sexual behavior was like on the savannah. Primates differ pretty wildly in their sexual behavior so I could plausibly see it going lots of ways.

      And I’m not sure about this argument that societies that reinforce prudeness do better. I certainly buy that they do better with regard to lots of outcomes like income and happiness and what not, but do they do better on the outcome that matters to evolution (the number of grandkids)? Probably not.

      • Anna

        Hmm. If men going around and raping/seducing women lead to maximum evolutionary advantage, I think that would be our primary mating system. But it is not, because those societies would be less stable and therefore not as likely to survive. So I think it’s fair to assume that most civilizations have had very stringent sexual codes. It’s only in the last 50 years in the West that promiscuity has been acceptable.

        I came across this the other day. Very interesting tho very long.

      • JW

        I just don’t know. This pair-bonding stuff we do is so unusual among mammals, and if you throw in pair-bonding for life, or pair-bonding for a long time with no infidelity, then you’ve got something *really* rare across the entirety of the animal kingdom. I’m not trying to argue that what we do now is wrong or unnatural, just that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was not the system we “grew up” with.

        The article looks good. I’ll check it out later.

      • Anna

        Well, I’m arguing for the “best practices” for our particular culture, those that bring out the best in both sexes. I am pretty sure I don’t want to go back to the savannah “best practices”, nor Saudi Arabia in 2012.

  4. I agree that dating is about ascertaining compatibility for long-term potential. I also think that the two parties involved in a given dating situation, should try to enjoy each other’s company and have fun being with each other, in a godly way, of course. It’s fun getting to know another person, discovering each other’s passions, points of view, etc. And even if a relationship doesn’t work out, it’s a learning experience, and good practice for the next one. Not to sound too calculating or cold, but in a way, it’s kinda like a job interview and a probationary period of employment.

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