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Q I am a parent who is accustomed to arranged marriages, where the boy and girl decide  to marry soon after meeting.  Often the engagement happens within a couple weeks, if not days, of the first meeting. Nowadays it seems many young people date for quite some time before deciding to marry.  Why? My question is, what is the reasoning behind dating?

A I imagine many parents are wondering the same thing. The rationale behind dating before committing to marriage is that time and interaction together will reveal whether connection and compatibility between the two people exist on multiple levels; and that this revelation is worth investing in prior to committing to a life-long union.

While connection and compatibility are multi-layered concepts, which cannot possibly be given justice within the word count limitations of this column, let’s at least start with the general stages of dating and common gender differences during those stages.

The very beginning of a relationship can sometimes be considered the “honeymoon” period, during which both people continue to put their best feet forward. Men tend to be somewhat aloof in this stage of a relationship, while many women will already have begun to form some level of emotional connection.

After a few months of dating, both partners will start to become more relaxed around each other. It’s at this stage that commitment-minded men and women alike will begin considering whether their partner could potentially be marriage material. Women often consider this earlier than men, and some men may be content to let the topic lie until the woman brings it up. Both women and men will learn more about each other during this stage, and the relationship may likely see its end if either party doesn’t see a future with each other.

The last stage of dating includes the engagement period. At this point, the couple has already become emotionally attached. Women often look for reassurance of fidelity during this stage, as they are about to embark on a commitment that will last the rest of their lives. Both men and women usually seek family and friend input at this point, as well.

A dating relationship will end either in a marriage or a breakup. It is generally believed that women get more emotional during a breakup, however, many men have a difficult time as well.

While my response has been general in nature, I hope it gives you a better idea of the rationale for dating.

I encourage open dialogue among the generations, and appreciate your question.

Jasbina is the founder and president of Intersections Match, the only personalized matchmaking and dating coaching firm serving singles of South Asian descent in the United States. She is also the host of Intersections Talk Radio.

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