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You're just bumping the naughty bits, and that's why we North Americans have so many, varied terms for what is essentially a no strings attached sexual relationship. So let's call dating what it really is: a way to get to know a complete stranger to see if they're a possible romantic partner for the long haul.
There's a ridiculous amount of social pressure in North America to have sex, for men to have "more" partners, and for women to detach emotionally and make it "okay". It isn't an excuse to 'test the merchandise', or 'see how I feel in six months', or even, 'give him a taste'.
"I learned a lot while in Ireland (and France, Belgium) about romance and relationships, and you can read all about my adventures elsewhere (see: What Does Shifting Mean in Irish Slang, and Dating in Ireland).
First, I had to come up with a way to describe what I do for a living.
I'm her, but she wrote for the Post and I wrote for the Times".
People nod, and then ask me whatever pressing dating questions they have.
In France however, there's no such thing as a dating columnist.
"I give advice to people who go out together," kind of worked, but most people didn't understand how or why I had a job. I lost my credit card and was two hours late, so instead we met for wine and cheese. That relationship ended because the gent couldn't communicate clearly with me, and kissed another woman at a party repeatedly knowing that I'd never take him back if he did. I'm still grateful for the experience, because it showed me just what dating was, and wasn't.
One of my biggest takeaways while exploring Western Europe for six months was a conversation I had with an Austrian couple. What struck me the most was that there isn't a word in many languages for what North Americans call "dating", and that, in fact, few cultures around the world actually "date". And how to other people get to know one another before committing, having casual sex, or something else?
Within a few minutes of meeting in an Irish pub, the lady of the couple asked, "So, is dating a construct of Hollywood? These were the most pressing questions my friends back home wanted to know, so I went out in discovery of answers.
The act of getting to know one another is called dating.
Now, there's hooking up, friends with benefits, casual dating, and all manner of other things. There's no courtship, there's zero determining if you're compatible romantically or long term.