Many influential people are moving away from the view that sexual morality is defined by abstinence from nonmarital intercourse toward one in which morality is expressed through responsible sexual behavior and a sincere regard for the rights of others. . . . In other words, the shift is from emphasis upon an act to emphasis upon the quality of interpersonal relationships.
Dating in America has gone through a number of changes in the fifty or so years since it first became recognized as the acceptable way for young people of the opposite sex to get to know one another. A young girl in the 1970s will smile at her mother's account of dating when she was a teenager. Drive-in movies, rock concerts, and school sponsored ski weekends are all phenomena that point to the immense changes in the circumstances under which high school dating occurs. What is more, dating generally begins earlier in a young person's life today than it did a generation ago. These changes are so pervasive and so significant that we may well wonder to what extent they actually imply changes in the meaning of dating as a social phenomenon. Whether or not dating is still the same thing and still serves the same function now as it did then is one of the questions we shall be examining in this chapter.
Like so many other aspects of relations between the two sexes, dating has become the subject of a large body of stereotyped beliefs. Whether or not these clichés are