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Choosing Others: Dating and Mate Selection

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1 Choosing Others: Dating and Mate Selection
Marriages and Families: Changes, Choices, and Constraints Seventh Edition Nijole V. Benokraitis Chapter Eight Choosing Others: Dating and Mate Selection

2 How Often Do We Date? A majority of Americans age 18 and older either are dating or would like to be. Dating has declined among people under age 18, but 24% of high school seniors say they date frequently. How we meet people and what we call dating has changed over the years.


4 Why Do We Date? Sociologists consider dating a marriage market in which the participants look at the assets and liabilities in each partner and decide which is the best for what they have to offer. Dating fulfills a number of specific functions that vary according to a person’s age, social class, and gender. Functions may be manifest or latent.

5 Manifest Functions of Dating
Maturation Fun and recreation Companionship Love and affection Mate selection

6 Latent Functions of Dating
Socialization Social status Fulfillment of ego needs Sexual experimentation and intimacy Big business

7 The Dating Spectrum In traditional dating, males and females follow clear, culturally defined gender role scripts, at least among the middle class. Bat mitzvah and bar mitzvah—rites of passage in the Jewish community. “Going steady” and “getting pinned” were popular after WWII. A woman was pinned when her boyfriend gave her his fraternity pin. “Going with” or “going together” means a couple is dating exclusively.

8 Contemporary Dating Much casual and usually happens in groups. Teenagers these days “hang out.” “Getting together” is more intimate and structured than hanging out. The specifics are more spontaneous. “Hooking up” is a little more serious and usually involves a physical encounter. It is a vague term and can mean anything from kissing to having sex.

9 Traditional and Contemporary Combinations
Proms and homecoming parties—still among the most popular dating events for young people. Dating in later life—dating after divorce or after being widowed can be both therapeutic and intimidating. Online dating has become more popular in recent years.

10 How Do We Meet People Personal ads—published in mainstream magazines, on the Web, etc. Mail-order brides—There are more than 200 international services that provide an international bride. There is still a lot of controversy over this type of business.

11 How Do We Meet People? Professional matchmakers—make a living by matching people up. Speed dating—the idea is to meet as many people as you can in a very short time.


13 Cyberdating Millions of people turn to the Internet to find the right person these days. There are pros and cons to trying to find a dating partner in this way.

14 Choosing Whom We Date: Choices and Constraints
In the U.S. we think we can marry whomever we want, and we can to an extent, but there are many forces at work in helping us make that decision. We are affected by many things like our religion, family, and socioeconomic status.

15 Homogamy and Filter Theory
According to filter theory, we sift eligible people according to specific criteria and thus narrow the pool of potential partners to a small number of candidates. Homogamy refers to dating or marrying someone with similar backgrounds to our own.


17 Homogamy and Filter Theory
These are some of the things we use to “filter” potential mates: Propinquity—geographic closeness Ethnicity and race—to some these are still important factors in finding a partner Religion—can also affect dating and marriage relationships

18 Homogamy and Filter Theory
Social class—we tend to stay with groups within our own social class Physical appearance—no matter how we want to look at it, appearance does matter Age—we generally marry someone close to our own age Values and personality—we look for partners who are much like ourselves


20 Heterogamy: Expanding the Marriage Market
As U.S. society becomes more diverse and multicultural, marrying across traditional boundaries is bound to happen. Some “"new kinds" of relationships include: Same-sex relationships Social class relationships Interfaith relationships Interracial and interethnic relationships


22 Theories of Mate Selection
Social exchange theory—posits that people will begin and remain in a relationship if the rewards are higher than the costs. Equity theory—an intimate relationship is satisfying and stable if both partners see it as equitable and mutually beneficial.

23 A Global View Most traditional cultures do not have the open courtship abilities that we have in this country. In some very traditional countries, children are betrothed to someone when they are very young and a marriage is seen as a contract between two families. These traditional marriage arrangements are changing in some traditional cultures, especially the ones that have more educated young people.

24 Dating Violence Just as there can be abuse in married relationships, there can be violence in dating relationships. The violence is usually born out of the struggle for power in the relationship, with mostly women losing. Not only violence, but rape can happen just as easily in a dating relationship.


26 Consequences of Date Rape
The victims in many cases blame themselves. Others often blame the victim as well. This makes it extremely difficult to tell to a judge and a jury what really happened.


28 Why We Break Up According to one poll, nearly half of Americans adults have gotten the romantic heave-ho at least twice in their lifetime. Reasons for breaking up include: Individual reasons—communication problems, different interests, emotional and physical abuse Structural reasons—moving away, economic hardships that trigger unemployment and fights about money

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