Is dating the only way to build the social skills I need for building a healthy relationship?
social skills are built naturally by engaging in social situations, otherwise it would not be termed social skills. with the opposite gender (I'm assuming you are attracted to the opposite gender) it is also a different relationship therefore needing different sets of social skills/mannerisms. this can only be learned through actively engaging in such situations in which you have to be social. learning from a book will get you knowledge as in you should be able to pass a test in a written form but it will get you nowhere in applying the skills you might have learned. as with the issue of love and marriage... I am not trying to be negative here but facts are facts. if you are not willing to learn/explore/communicate with the opposite gender by letting yourself uninhibited by whatever rules you have in mind it will not get you far. building a relationship requires trust, honesty and a true understanding which means you have to let yourself be vulnerable and gain confirmation that you can rely on the other person. love requires intimacy, and on this matter there are no two ways around it you are either compatible or not, there is no in-between. but if you insist on zero intimacy I wouldn't expect much from the relationship even if it results in marriage. It won't be the end of the world, you could achieve friendship in the longer term if there aren't irreconcilable differences. all I would like to say is that I wouldn't have any unrealistic expectations of relationship/marriage when you are placing a heavy restriction on what you want to/can do before you've even started one. good luck.
in Islam you can ask her family and they will allow you to visit, talk and see her. you will be engaged and its the same as dating in the west but you will not be in a private place with her and you will not have sexual relationship and everyone will know about you.
In Islam as long as you are Muslim and practice it then her father shouldn't disallow you, in Islam both of you have the right to think if you will make it or no.
BUT the culture forced the people to search for rich men for their daughters and the culture who made the people think that being engaged for more one time is a bad sign while its not, and the culture who forced some people to marry the first person they engage to. All this has no source in Islam read how Ali get married to Fatima the daughter of the prophet Mohamed.
I believe it depends on your culture. I don't know where you are from but there s a socially acceptable way for you to find a life partner. If that doesn't apply or work out for you, please proceed yourself to anyone you find is suitable for you. Islam stops you from being indecent towards women. Don't put them in a situation where it's diffult to cope for them. For example, if you find someone who has your liking, ask her that you would want to pursue her for her hand in marriage. Share numbers, get to know her better and then decide for yourself if it is gong to work.
Hope this helps and sorry for the typos.
I increased my social skills a lot by reading a few books on this topic.
You can find them here -> Social Skills - Champions Books