In our grandparents and parents days in high school, continuous dating was not considered to be a gesture of commitment or intimacy. It was getting to know each other and having a good time.
But somehow, the term 'dating' and 'going steady' have become synonymous to millennials.
Now going on more than one date is considered committing to each other or having a relationship. So to avoid this, millennials prefer to hang out, because that's more noncommittal than dating. The result is the first date has become this do-or-die, Russian roulette of first impressions. Its as bad as a job interview, if its not a flawless performance there is no second date.
No wonder people are terrified to ask each other out, it feels like one inch from a proposal.
The reason why I think parents have contributed to this is because of their dialogue with us before or after a date.
Hollywood, on the other hand is notorious for depicting adult like romantic relationships between kids! It makes it seem like if you so much as come into proximity with the opposite gender sparks are gonna start flying. That and I think they contributed to making the terminology all mesh into one. Dating, going steady, and so on, now have no distinction especially where Hollywood thinks a first date also includes sex which in my personal belief should come after marriage. No wonder its hard to be alone with each other. We don't want intimacy and committed relationships right off the bat!
I don't know whether the traditional date can ever be restored to its original purpose and interpretation, but as of now, its become an ineffective form for many of us to meet new people.