Accessibility links

THIS IS AMERICA  - Dating - 2004-02-15


Broadcast: February 16, 2004

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA, in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I’m Phoebe Zimmermann. Our show this week is about the search for love. Join us as we explore dating in America.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Another February fourteenth, Valentine's Day, has come and gone. Millions of people received flowers and chocolate, or some other gift, or even just a telephone call from someone they care about. Valentine's Day is a special time for love.

People who follow old traditions have a second chance at the end of this month. A tradition says February twenty-ninth, Leap Year Day, is the one day a woman may ask a man to marry her.

But a lot of people are not even close to that point. They would be happy just to find someone to date.

VOICE TWO:

In the past, young people in America usually lived with their parents until they got married. Some still do. But, in general, young people have grown more independent. They wait longer to get married. Even then, they still have to find the right person.

There are many ways for people to meet. Some meet at work. Others meet by chance. Still others seek help from businesses that try to bring people together.

VOICE ONE:

Friends and family members might offer to help. Often a friend will plan a “blind date.” This is meeting between two people who have never seen each other before. The friend thinks the two people will like each other. They might. Or they might never want to see each other again.

Usually, though, single people have to make their own plans. Some might go to a dance place, for example, and hope to meet someone they can ask out on a date. Some places are popular with young people. Others are for older people. But this kind of life is not for everyone.

VOICE TWO:

Dating and establishing a relationship can be hard work. So a lot of people want to go where they are sure they can meet people with similar interests. They might look for someone who shares a common interest in religion or books, for example. A lot of bookstores in America now have places that serve coffee and food. Many offer special programs and social activities for single people.

Singles may join health clubs, or sports teams -- or maybe even a group for people who like to take long walks in the woods. If nothing else, at least they will have gotten some exercise.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Some Americans use dating services, which help people choose a person they might like. For example, a company called Great Expectations has been helping to bring people together for almost thirty years. Great Expectations started in San Francisco, California. The company organizes events in more than fifty places in the United States for people to meet.

Another company is called Brief Encounters. It serves people in several states and Washington, D.C. The name describes what the company does. Brief Encounters organizes events that provide very quick introductions for small groups of people. Men and women meet and get only three to six minutes to introduce themselves.

VOICE TWO:

Two people sit across from each other at a table. They talk until a bell rings. Then everyone meets a new person. People write their reactions on paper. They write the names of the people they liked best. Then they give these notes to an employee of Brief Encounters. Within forty-eight hours, the people who took part receive the names and telephone numbers of the people who liked them.

A program called SpeedDating also provides fast introductions for singles. Many young people are in a room. Two people meet and talk for seven minutes. Then they meet and talk to others. The SpeedDating program began in Los Angeles, California, at a Jewish educational center. It is one of a number of dating services operated by religious organizations.

VOICE ONE:

But some people do not like making hurried choices. A young woman in Chicago, Illinois, says nobody can make an intelligent choice under those conditions. But others praise this method. They say it is a way to avoid long hours with someone who is not very interesting.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Many American newspapers and magazines publish messages from people who are seeking someone to date. The messages are called “personal want ads” or “personals.” This is the usual kind of message in a personal ad: “Nice looking woman, thirty years old, thin, athletic, successful, great cook, desires long-term relationship.”

VOICE ONE:

Men who want to meet this woman write to the newspaper or magazine. They describe themselves and their interests. The woman then reads the letters and decides if she wants to meet any of them.

There are also telephone services. A person calls and records a message. For example, a man describes himself and the kind of woman he hopes to meet. He describes what kind of relationship he would like.

Other people call and listen to the messages. If they hear one they like, they leave their own message. Once two people talk to each other directly, they might or might not decide to meet in person.

Telephone dating services have led to video dating services. People go on camera and record a message about themselves. Then they wait until someone likes what they see.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Some cities in America have restaurants where people hope to find more than just good food. A place called Drip opened in New York City in nineteen-ninety-six. It started with the idea to have people write down answers to a series of questions about themselves. Other people then read the answers. If someone likes what they read, an employee sets up a date.

Now there is a Web site, Drip.com. People are directed to a DateCafe where an employee tries to set them up on a date.

VOICE ONE:

This is just one of the dating services on the Internet. A business called Match.com is a leader in the area of online matchmaking. Members can get lists of people around their age who live nearby. Some people identify themselves and even include pictures. Others do not. The goal is for people to get to know each other through electronic mail. Then, they can decide to meet and date.

Match.com began in nineteen-ninety-five. It says many of its members have married or formed close relationships. One example is a teacher in the Washington, D.C., area whose marriage ended a few years ago. She had not dated much until she met a computer expert through Match-dot-com.

VOICE TWO:

A lot of people search for love online. People usually start by communicating with strangers. Sometimes the strangers become friends. They might decide to meet. Then they might decide to date. They may even decide to get married.

But there are risks anytime strangers meet. There have been stories in the news about people killed by others they met over the Internet. That is not the only risk. People may lie about themselves or leave out details. Some people find that the person they met over the Internet is already married.

VOICE ONE:

However they meet, when single people finally get together, what do they do on a date? People of all ages do many of the same things. They go out to eat. Or they go dancing. They go for walks. Or they go to movies, museums or concerts. Couples might play sports together. Or they might just spend the evening watching television.

VOICE TWO:

Dating is the traditional first step toward marriage. But many young Americans no longer feel in as much of a hurry to get married as in the past. They want to finish their education and establish themselves in a profession first.

Other people are ready to settle down and start a family. They want to meet someone and fall in love. There are more ways to meet other people today. Yet some say it is harder than ever to find the right person. So they keep dating, and hoping.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Our program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Caty Weaver. I’m Steve Ember.

VOICE ONE:

And I’m Phoebe Zimmermann. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

(MUSIC)

XS
SM
MD
LG