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In North America, I say I'm a dating columnist.It's easy, pretty much every knows what that means, and if for some reason they're confused, I say, "You know Carrie in Sex in the City?Unlike the ambiguous term "hooking up," which can very well be used to reference everything from a three-second makeout session to full-blown sex, the "boyfriend/girlfriend" label universally implies exclusivity and commitment. It's a little more than just hooking up, but not exactly full-blown dating. Or perhaps, keep your options open without ever letting things with someone else accelerate beyond flirtatious conversation? Apart from some emotional anguish, there's really not much involved in terms of post-breakup fallout.
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.
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?