Sample Expository Essay on The History of Dating and Mating

EssayExpository Essay

Dating and mating are integral parts of the human experience. They allow individuals to seek partners and potentially reproduce. From an evolutionary point of view, this was the main purpose of these concepts up until modern times when individuals begin short-term dating and casual mating. Humans began to use contraceptives, abortion , and other methods to avoid unwanted pregnancies. This changed the meaning of dating and mating from reproductive concepts to social leisure. This expository essay will discuss ideas that describe the history of dating and mating.

The Dating Concept

One can see dating as the first step in establishing a romantic or sexual relationship between two individuals. It involves two individuals spending time together and getting to know each other. However, dating in the late 1800s requires couples to engage in public activities where the man spends money (O’Brien, 2009). This led dating to require individuals, especially the man, to have money as well as leisure time. If a man cannot afford to spend money, he may not be able to engage in the act of dating. Wealth and leisure time became a measure of one’s success and ability to provide for a potential partner.


However, the concept of courtship preceded dating and was more direct in defining the act as a way to seek an ideal partner. Courtship was the norm before the late 1800s and focused on identifying a partner that will provide stability to a family (O’Brien, 2009). From this, the ideal partner became an individual with wealth, occupation, land, and other signifiers of financial stability. Courtship does not focus on sexual or emotional desire, making it an objective process to secure the well-being of both parties. 

In some cases, parents were also involved in the process of courtship. Parents would prepare for the marriage, even before the couples meet each other (Ellis & Harper, 2003). This was the basic form of arranged marriage which depended on the parent’s assessment of the other party. If the man’s parents see the woman as a suitable candidate for their child, they will have no problem with the arrangement. Similarly, if the woman’s parents perceive the man as a good provider, they will choose him as a marriage candidate. In this process, the perception of the couple toward each other is irrelevant.

Dating as a Human Mating Strategy

Both the act of courtship and dating focus on finding a partner that can provide stability to a family. From an evolutionary standpoint, this process is similar to how animals choose a mate for reproduction. One can perceive dating as a human mating strategy in which an individual or their parents seek a suitable mate for reproduction. According to Buss (2007), humans utilize the mating strategy that is most suitable for their situation, which in the late 1800s and in modern times is the concept of dating. The process allowed an individual to assess the characteristics of a potential mate, gaining the ability to reject undesirable candidates. Additionally, parental involvement became infrequent because of the changing culture that altered the human mating situation.

“Hooking Up” Concept

As mentioned earlier, the concept of dating began in the late 1800s. This replaced courtship and allowed individuals to choose a partner based on their preference. While the early definition of dating involves engagement in public activities and financial spending, it eventually progressed into a concept where two individuals hold hands, kiss, engage in coitus, and perform romantic gestures (Ellis & Harper, 2003). Dating began to become an activity where two individuals learn about each other and assess their compatibility. The assessment did not only involve the ability to offer stability but also emotional and sexual compatibility.

In modern times, dating led to the concept of “hooking up”. This is when two individuals engage in sexual activities despite the absence of a romantic or any other type of relationship (O’Brien, 2009). “Hooking up” allowed individuals to experience sexual gratification without commitments, breaking the norms of dating and courtship. This concept, however, also breaks away from the biological purpose of mating; which is reproduction.

Concept of Mating

Mating, unlike dating, is a concept that was present at the start of the evolutionary process. It is an integral, perhaps the most significant, part of human evolution as it allowed adaptation through the passing down of desirable traits (Buss, 2007). Mating led to human evolutionary development, creating variations in offspring and promoting the survival of the most environmentally adapted. This is the main goal of mating–to pass down desirable traits and secure the survival of a species.

In discussing the topic of mating, Charles Darwin’s (1859) theory of natural selection helps explain how the individuals with desirable traits survive while those who lack them fail to reproduce. While Darwinism focuses on natural processes and not on humans, natural selection is still in effect with regard to human ancestors. According to Buss (2007), the human ancestors who failed to secure a mate also failed to pass down their genes and do not have descendants. Only the human ancestors who reproduced successfully were able to pass down their traits, making way for the next generations.

Mating Challenges and Adaptation

Human mating involves a variety of challenges that require individuals to adapt to the situations. There are challenges regarding mate selection, competing against rivals, fending off mate poachers, securing the mate, and engaging in all necessary mating behaviors (Buss, 2007). Mate selection involves choosing a fertile mate that will ensure reproductive success; competing against rivals involves showcasing the most desirable traits; fending off mate poachers refers to preventing infidelity; securing the mate and engaging in all necessary mating behaviors focus on meeting the needs of the mate which involves social, financial, and sexual satisfaction.

Despite the differences in these challenges, humans developed an evolutionary trait that addressed all of them. According to Buss (2007), humans evolved to possess desires that dictate the mate that will be attractive to them. For instance, an individual may prefer to have a partner who is taller than them and have a corporate job while another prefers someone who is physically fit with fair skin color. However, desires must be parallel for two individuals to find each other attractive. Even if an individual finds someone attractive, the latter may not find the former desirable. This lowers competition density as well as ensures compatibility in mating behaviors.

The practice of courtship in the 1800s also provided a challenge in mating. Since courtship and the early forms of dating focused on finding a suitable partner, mating became a concept exclusive to marital unions (O’Brien, 2009). Mating became a ritual-like activity that did not focus on passing down traits but as a way to signify a union. Couples did not have a choice regarding their partner, preventing them from exhibiting their desires. It was only because of cultural changes that individuals were able to exercise their desire.

Sexual Selection Theory

Charles Darwin established the sexual selection theory to explain hereditary characteristics due to mating instead of natural selection. In this process, the animal with the desirable mating trait can pass down their genes more than those with less desirable characteristics (cited in Buss, 2007). For instance, peahens choose a male peacock with the most colorful feathers. The colorful feathers have minimal survival advantages since peahens survive despite the lack of colorful feathers. However, since peahens prefer males with colorful feathers, these males were able to pass down their traits.

In humans, sexual selection becomes a complex topic because of large trait variations. Some things of note, however, are the traits that imply preferences for monogamous, polygyny, polyandry, and other mating systems (Wilson et al., 2017). These preferences depend on cultural factors and indicate how humans perceive a potential mate. For example, polygyny is present in cultures where men have high status and wealth, indicating that they are abled providers. In other cultures, mate candidates may perceive monogamous behaviors as desirable traits, promoting the practice.


Dating and mating are relevant steps in human reproduction. Mating, as a fundamental concept, is the act of reproduction and passing down of hereditary traits. It is a significant factor in human evolution and is responsible for most of the human development. The challenges of mating led to the development of “desires”, allowing humans to procreate better and efficiently. Dating, as a human mating strategy, provided ways for humans to choose a partner for reproduction purposes. The concept evolved throughout the centuries until it led to other concepts, such as “hooking up”. The history of dating and mating showcases the evolutionary significance of the concepts and how humans shifted from prioritizing reproduction to indulging personal gratification.

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Buss, D. (2007). The Evolution of Human Mating. Acta Psychologica Sinica, University of Texas, Austin. Available at . Accessed June 20, 2022.

Ellis, Albert & Harper, Robert. (2003). Dating, Mating, and Relating: How to Build a Healthy Relationship. Citadel Press.

Longrich, N. (2020). The Origin and Evolution of Love. The Conversation. Available at Accessed June 20, 2022.

O’Brien, J. (Ed.). (2009). Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, Volume 1. SAGE Publications Inc. California. Available at . Accessed June 20, 2022.

Wilson, M., Miller., C., & Crouse, K. (2017). Humans as a Model Species for Sexual Selection Research. Royal Society Publishing. Available at Accessed June 21, 2022.

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