Dating is an unfamiliar game for those who find themselves single after years of being in a relationship. The landscape has changed drastically from the 20th century and even more so in the last 10 years with social networking. Technology has increased the availability of options. And with four degrees of separation between most people, thanks to Facebook and other social networks, dating is an adventure – a maze to navigate in order to find the perfect mate.

Dating history

In the 19th century, all marriages were arranged. Couples didn’t associate, let alone go out together or copulate before forming a permanent union. Industrialization changed how people lived and operated by expanding areas of travel and work for people. The 20th century marked rapid technological and workforce growth, and Americans saw an enormous change in the family dynamic.

In the 20th century, relationships were about commitment and monogamy. Relationships were often arranged between families, even up to the end of the century, for wealthy individuals. Relationships could remain static because the realm people moved in was still relatively small. Relationships often started in high school, evolved into marriage, and then became long-term commitments. However, by the end of the 20th century, the Internet had grown into a powerhouse for people who wanted to make a living connecting people. Social networking sites grew to connect people with their friends and family in different places. And some smart entrepreneurs decided people could make love connections in the same way using the World Wide Web.

Dating in the 21st century

Fast forward to the 21st century and dating ranges from speed-dating events, online chats, and dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com. Trying to find a mate is literally a game of musical chairs with sites providing multiple options to meet people from the free to the costly monthly subscription. For those interested in finding love, the end result – marriage – is worth the cost.

Dating is now a game of proving yourself in a five-second greeting. The persons speed-dating you, mingling with you, or reading through profiles has to figure out in minimal time if you are a person they want to get to know. With the click of a button, they can discard your information and move on to the next person. Once matches are made, the terrain gets scary. You have to go out with people you barely know. Here are three solid tips on how to date people you don’t know and still have a good time.

1) Run background checks. That may sound crazy, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Get the first and last name of someone you are interested in. And before going on the date, check their data on the Internet. Also, give their information to a friend or family member before going out.

2) Date out. No one should come to your home. No one should be at your home. If you don’t know them, meet them at a place that is not close to where you live. Dating is for going out, not for being kept in. And until you thoroughly know a person, they should not have access to your place.

3) Drop a zero. If the man or woman you meet doesn’t meet your standards, move on. The dating world has expanded your reach beyond your city. If you can afford to date in different cities and travel around the country, then do so. Your soul mate may not be near you on the West Side. You may need to branch out to find the love you are looking for.

Dating has changed. No one is arranging a marriage that will end in love 30 years later. You have to play the game to find the love you seek. If you run into someone and it’s not a good fit, move on quickly. Time flies. Find the person that compliments you so you can enjoy a long, prosperous relationship.

Angelic Jones is a freelance writer working at a private school as an advisor: ajoneswrites4u@excite.com.