In modern America, recreational dating is taken to be a positive good, like food, air, and sunshine, a necessary, inescapable activity.

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It trains them to form a series of relationships, and further trains them to harden themselves to the break-up of all but the current one. If neither one likes the other, then they both have had a bad experience.

At the very least, this system is as much a preparation for divorce as it is for marriage. If they initially "hit it off" and continue the relationship, then the eventual temptation to engage in sex is strong, especially if they happen to be teenagers, still under the roof of their parents.

Whenever the other person starts to wear a little thin, you just slip out the back, Jack. And of course, if during the dating period one of the "sweethearts" is interested in staying together but the other has a change of heart and wants out of the relationship, the possibilities for emotional snarls and interesting complications are almost endless. Prior to that time, marriage always involved much more input from the parents, and "trial relationships" leading up to marriage (what we now call "dating") were not conducted at all.

Of interest to our discussion, though, is its effects on relationships between men and women.

While love between husbands and wives has always been assumed, it was generally not perceived as a pre-requisite for entering marriage.

Rather, it was understood that married partners would grow to love one another.

Other factors in weighing marriage decisions were generally considered to be more significant.

Dating arose out of the eighteenth century philosophical movement we now call "Romanticism" which emphasized, among other things, passion rather than logic.

Writers such as Rousseau lamented that Western civilization had fallen into the "error" of exalting reason over feelings.