Between Love and Friendship - Datemate
Between Love and Friendship - Datemate
  • Cho Ku Yun-ji 기자
  • 승인 2008.06.08 00:35
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There are so many ‘-mate’ words; roommate, classmate, teammate.  Among them, have you ever heard of ‘Datemate?’  If you have a friend of the opposite sex, but not a sweetheart that you hang around with like other couples, you can call the friend a datemate.  Datemate is a new trend in Korea that reflects the relationships of young people nowadays.  What is this and how it does influence them?  After you read the following article, you may have a chance to think about what datemates are and how you would define the relationship.


What is a ‘Datemate?’

‘Datemate’ is a compound word of ‘date’ and ‘mate.’  According to the definition in the Collins Cobuild Dictionary, a ‘date’ is an appointment to meet someone or go out with them, especially someone with whom you are having, or may soon have, a romantic relationship.  A ‘mate’ refers to a friend.  The book 「Korean New Leader Trend 2029」 introduced this new concept as people who enjoy dating without restraint under mutually consented rules.  This is the relationship for those who feel lonely sometimes and wish to be with someone, or who are lonesome but like to be free from intervention.


They Like You but Dislike Your Restrictions

As the marriage age is being delayed, more singles are enjoying their own life.  Along with this phenomenon, having a datemate instead of a sweetheart is becoming preferred.  Some say that jealousy of a datemate is mostly avoidable.  One interviewee who has a relationship with datemate, said, “Without great expectations, we don’t try hard to maintain the relationship.  That’s why we don’t get hurt by each other.  It is also one of the advantages of being a datemate that we can easily go out with others.”  (Herald Biz)

They also have specific rules to control their relationship.  For example, they make rules about the degree of physical contact, about never interfering with each others’ private lives, and about never falling in love with each other.  However, besides a few rules, they are not different from typical sweethearts.  They eat out in gorgeous restaurants, go to the cinema and take walks like any other couples.  Along with this new wave, many new online communities have also sprung up.  In these communities, members post their pictures, mobile phone numbers and self-introductions in order to look for datemates.  Contrary to separating spouse from sweetheart in the past, they now separate datemate from sweetheart.  Concerning this phenomenon, Jeon Sang-jin, Professor of Sociology at Sogang University, said, “The young who pursue their own gain made it natural to set rules and not hurt each other in their relationship.  They seem to enjoy the state of dating rather than the ideology of love.”


Fast-changing Youth

According to an interview in Magazine T (, singer Han Dae-soo expressed his opinion of today’s youth.  He said, “Compared to the youth of the past who looked as weak as grasshoppers, young people today have been changed a lot.  They tend to accept everything lightly, especially since the Internet Revolution.  Thought, art, everything has become instantaneous.  With several clicks, they don’t exert themselves; they don’t even read books, and the same goes for relationships which are called instantaneous.  They all became momentary.”

Many of the older generation may agree with him.  The trend called the Net Generation (N Generation) demonstrates this.  Don Tapscott, a sociologist in the U.S., mentioned this new concept first in his book “Growing Up Digital: Net Generation.”  The N Generation is used to accessing digital media, but whatever they are called, it is obvious that the characteristics of young people these days have changed to preferring instant happiness.  Datemates can be described as part of the new phenomenon for those who seek love along with freedom.  In spite of their reasonable opinion, that’s why the older generation doesn’t agree with the young people.  They do assert that a deep and frequent relationship helps achieve love, although they can get hurt sometimes.  There is no superiority or inferiority; there is just a different point of view.

Along with this wave, young people tend to neglect values which elder generation cherished.  Especially, cable television programs reflect this when planning new program.  Recently, they deal with sensational subjects.  For example, men and women who are unmarried but live together show up in the form of reality program.  Not only this, sexual harassment, adultery and other shocking subjects are frequently seen in many programs.  Of course, this was partly caused from the trait of broadcasting – the pursuit of earning profit.  The more the sensational programs are televised, the more the profits are earned.  However, these new programs are also resulted from the new culture of young people.  Relatively more young people nowadays put value on separated ‘love.’ No one can’t judge what is right and what is bad but it is true that they need a time to values which were naturally accepted.

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