While the term dating has many meanings, the most common refers to a trial period in which two people explore whether to take the relationship further towards a more permanent relationship; in this sense, dating refers to the time when people are physically together in public as opposed to the earlier time period in which people are arranging the date, perhaps by corresponding by email or text or phone.
Another meaning of the term dating is to describe a stage in a person's life when he or she is actively pursuing romantic relationships with different people. If two unmarried celebrities are seen in public together, they are often described as "dating" which means they were seen in public together, and it is not clear whether they are merely friends, exploring a more intimate relationship, or are romantically involved.
For today's woman there are numerous ways to meet potential dates, including blind dates, classified ads, dating websites, hobbies, holidays, office romance, social networking, speed dating, and others. Today, the institution of dating continues to evolve at a rapid rate with new possibilities and choices opening up.
The stereotype for heterosexual women is that they seek well-educated men who are their age or older with high-paying jobs. Evolutionary psychology suggests that "women are the choosier of the genders" since "reproduction is a much larger investment for women" who have "more to lose by making bad choices." Behavior patterns are generally unwritten and constantly changing.
If there is any aspect of dating which is common for both sexes, then perhaps the idea of being in love can be scary. Being really intimate with someone in a committed sense is kind of threatening and love can be sometimes described as "the most terrifying thing. Psychology Today column, research scientist, sex columnist and book author Debby Herbenick compared it to a roller coaster:
"There's something wonderful, I think, about taking chances on love and sex... Going out on a limb can be roller-coaster scary because none of us want to be rejected or to have our heart broken. But so what if that happens? I, for one, would rather fall flat on my face as I serenade my partner (off-key and all) in a bikini and a short little pool skirt than sit on the edge of the pool, dipping my toes in silence."
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