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In strictly Orthodox Jewish circles, dating is limited to the search for a marriage partner.
Both sides (usually the singles themselves, parents, close relatives or friends of the persons involved) make inquiries about the prospective partner, e.g.
Also the age when shidduchim start may vary by community.
In frum circles, especially among Hassidim, eighteen is the age when shidduchim start and shadchanim take notice.
This is taken as an instruction for Jewish parents to weigh their child's opinion in the balance during an arranged marriage.
In modern usage, Jewish singles will say that they are looking for their bashert, meaning they are looking for that person who will complement them perfectly, and whom they will complement perfectly.Also, the decision as to whether or not the mate is good can be made with the emotional boundary of the shadchan who, if so desired by the couple, can call and talk to either side in the beginning stages of the dating to iron out issues that can crop up during the dating process.Usually as the couple see more of each other the shadchan backs away and lets the couple manage it themselves.The Medieval Rabbi Nissim of Gerona (commonly called Ran) traces it back to the Aramaic word for "calm" (cf.Targum to Judges ), and elaborates that the main purpose of the shidduch process is for young people to "settle down" into marriage.