Even though the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to win enlightenment, practicing Buddhists still date. At as far as I can understand it, unless you're wearing those crazy orange pajamas and living on a mountain top in Tibet; Buddhist dating is perfectly acceptable behavior. Now, the Buddha mapped out a pretty clear path to enlightenment and called the "Eightfold Path". The Eightfold Path incorporates the principals of meditation, wisdom and moral behavior. And all three elements play a part in Buddhist dating.
The thing about Buddhist dating is that it doesn't lead to marriage. In fact marriage is seen simply as a "social contract". Marriage is not some end-of-all-end/reason that we're here type of thing that is so indicative of the Catholic Church. Relationships and marriage is simply a ways of arranging one's life. Thus, Buddhist dating is perfectly normal as long is it is done for the right reasons.
Now, we all date for different reasons. For some it's companionship. For others it's sex on a regular basis. For others it's all of the above. Buddhism says that sex before marriage is allowed. That's cool. Buddhism stresses the responsibility which comes with sex. So obviously, Buddhist dating must recognize the realities of dating and relationships. Namely they don't all work. Sure the couple may me skipping hand in hand down the road to enlightenment, but maybe one of them wants to stop for a beer along the way. I'm not sure if any practicing Buddhist has conducted a study on the matter, but it would be interesting to know what the divorce/separation statistics are for practicing Buddhists.
I'm sure sex -- just like in any other type of relationship -- plays a part in Buddhist dating. I'm happy to report that a healthy sex drive is seen as a natural aspect of life. The Buddhist who has a healthy attitude towards sex is not embarrassed or afraid of their sexual desires. Now we're talking! Buddhists also recognize that sex is simply one aspect of the couple's life and not the center of their universe. O-k, I'll buy into that. After all, it's pleasing your partner that counts. Heck, I'm not even a Buddhist and I know that.
It just seems to me that when we talk about Buddhist dating there's still this undercurrent of contradiction. I thought Buddhists strove to overcome their desires, while all the while seeking true nirvana (and I'm not talking about the grunge band). So how do you make peace with your desires while at the same time striving to free yourself from desire? Someone send me a fax and explain this to me. Apparently the very thing I'm talking about is the key to walking the enlightened path.
The trick to Buddhist dating is apparently to cultivate the proper attitude towards one's sexual desires and then respond appropriately. Having said that, it's nice to know that you can date Buddhist girls or date Buddhist guys. I'm not sure a Buddhist girl wants to date someone who isn't walking along the enlightened path. I think I'm pretty responsible when it comes to relationships and sex. Is that enough to date Buddhist girls? I promise I'll still respect them in the morning.