I was asked to write an essay on "dating ethics" for my sociology class. This was my reasponse:
There is no way to start this. No way to begin what is ultimately a long and painful tangle of this, thats, and the other things. The concept itself is absurd. Dating does not have its own personal ethical system. That makes it sound as if dating throws in special ethical considerations; as if dating allows one to act unethical, or visa versa.
"Dating ethics" is a pointless and frivolous term. How does one write rules of engagement for love? The answer is that one doesn't. Love is not something that is bound to a special set of rules, as if one can just say "Alright, if I am in love, I can now do this." Love is both a passionate and logical reaction of ones personal values to another human being. To lift another soul high within the citadel of your own mind and proclaim "This is all that I want!" That is love. Love is not static. It is a maelstrom, like Proteus, rising from sea of the developed human mind and changing its form as it flies from one end of the globe of thought to the other, but, unlike Proteus, love changes with you. Love IS you. What you love, what you hold high in value, is a reflection of that value.
Dating is a term we apply to the interaction of those who have begun to lift each other in value. As the scale of value shift in your mind, so does the behavior of the interaction. If you desire a conversationalist for a partner, then so be it. If one does not believe in receiving both sexual and emotional release in the same partner, as is common in some cultures, then so be it. That is a personal philosophy of love. Love is ultimately an overlapping term for all of the emotions that belong to this act of idolizing and enshrining another being as a reflection of your value. Dating is a petty thing to this. Dating is like dancing, moving one's feet is not the important thing, it is the passion and release that the dance brings that is important. What I find acceptable for dating is what I find acceptable for any human interaction. Truly though there are certain activities that some do not condone as "worthy" outside of romance. True, it would be hard for my personal self to engage in a sexual act outside of romance, but this is not because of some personal taboo against the act, but because I associate sexual release with emotional connection and release. Its really just not fun with someone you don't like. There is no empirical reason to avoid sex before "marriage," seeing as marriage is only a symbolic gesture to feelings one already has. Sex has the same consequences before and after your chosen God puts his rubber stamp on a relationship. It is only a emotional and rational drive to keep in a marriage once one removes divine superstition. One that can exist without the introduction of the transcendent in the first place. Not to mention that the so called dangers of sex are horribly misnamed and easily avoided.
Dating is an act, love is a journey. There is no ethics special to one act. The ethics of the journey though, those are the ethics of life. Which then is appropriate. For if love is what you are, then love is your life.