How would one answer the following questions based on the book Marriage and Family: The Quest for Intimacy by Robert Lauer and Jeanette Lauer: What are the functions and patterns of dating?...

How would one answer the following questions based on the book Marriage and Family: The Quest for Intimacy by Robert Lauer and Jeanette Lauer:

  1. What are the functions and patterns of dating?
  2. What is the process of falling in love?
  3. What are the different styles of loving and their implications for relationships?
Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Authors Robert Lauer and Jeanette Lauer of the book Marriage and Family: The Quest for Intimacy described many things about dating and love in their section titled "Dating" under chapter 6, titled "Getting Involved" and in chapter 7, titled "Falling in Love," both found in "Part Two." As we are limited in space, below are a few ideas to help get you started, especially with respect to different functions and patterns of dating.

The authors describe several different functions of dating, and studies show that those functions vary per age group. One function is that dating is a means of recreation--it's a way to unwind and enjoy ourselves; it's especially a way to escape from the responsibilities of work and school. Studies show that younger adolescents, especially those in middle school and high school, are more likely to date just for recreational reasons. As people get older, they begin reporting companionship and intimacy as main functions of dating. Both college students and adults over 60 are more likely to report that they date for both companionship and as a means of a sexual outlet. Another function of dating can be defined as a means of finding a marriage partner, and studies show that seeing each other as possible marriage partners is a good predictor of whether or not the relationship will be stable.

The authors also describe several patterns within dating. One of the patterns of dating described concerns  how people select dating partners. Based on studies, the authors argue that physical attractiveness is a main reason any person will decide to start a relationship with someone else. However, they also point out that as people get more serious about long-term relationships, they also select dating partners based on "personality, honesty, fidelity, warmth, and sensitivity" (p. 130).

Other patterns concern expectations of men and women. Studies show that, mainly, men are expected to ask the female out, plan what to do on the date, pick her up, and pay for the date. However, there are also those who believe in sharing expenses. Regardless, studies show that finding it acceptable to share date expenses can depend on race. A study of college students showed that "African Americans were more traditional than whites about dating protocol" (p. 131).

There are also those who believe it's acceptable for a woman to ask a man out. Women often feel asking a man out and sharing expenses puts them on equal footing with men and that they don't have to feel obligated to sexually reciprocate because the man asked them out and paid for the date. In other words, asking a man out and sharing expenses can make a woman feel more at liberty to decide what she wants to do with respect to sex. However, men report that when women ask men out, men are more likely to see such women as "more sexually active and more flexible and agreeable," meaning, more agreeable to have sex (p. 131). Therefore, the pattern of believing it's OK for a woman to date in non-traditional ways by asking the man out and sharing the costs actually makes women look more sexually loose.

While it's generally an unacceptable social pattern for women to initiate a date, studies show that women are actually more likely than men to initiate flirtation through nonverbal cues, which is deemed a socially acceptable pattern. Nonverbal cues to initiate flirtation can "include glancing, maintaining eye contact, preening, smiling, licking her lips, leaning toward the man, touching him, laughing, and nodding" (p. 131).