Unless you grew up in a strict religious sect, you're not likely to know much about courtship, but courtship is what young singles engaged in before there was dating.

Dating is what young singles did before there was “hooking up,” and hooking up is what they did before whatever they do now. Which is probably not much, given that all the extremes have been gone to already. Jaded or overwhelmed young singles no longer seem to have any idea how to interact with members of the opposite sex, seem not even to be certain what sex (or “gender”) they or their would-be intimates really are.

Even for people still trying to date, the old rules no longer apply and the old meeting places – college, professional groups, churches, the produce section of the supermarket – have lost their magical ability to make matches.

Whence the dating service.

The promotional pitch is logical enough. Instead of wasting countless hours and dollars trying to find people you think you might like to get to know and discovering that only one of you likes the other or that you both don’t like each other--just tell the “professionals” what you're looking for and they'll scour their dater banks and provide you with a list of “expertly matched” persons meeting your exact criteria.

That's assuming, of course, that neither you nor your prospects have misrepresented yourselves – and that you both have the patience and determination to attempt to establish a relationship, which use of a dating service seeme to suggests as unlikely.

Lonesome Robert Rice contracted with a dating service called Just Lunch, was not happy with the results, and is now suing the service in Harris County District Court. He's also seeking punitive damages.

If the service really did send him “matches” that didn't match, Rice may be entitled to a refund, but punitive damages? Something tells us this would-be beau may be a tough match.

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