New types of relationships formed; it was possible for people to live together without marrying and without children.

The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country and over time.

While the term has several meanings, the most frequent usage refers to two or more people exploring whether they are romantically and/or sexually compatible by participating in dates with the other.

Still, dating varies considerably by nation, custom, religious upbringing, technology, and social class, and important exceptions with regards to individual freedoms remain as many countries today still practice arranged marriages, request dowries, and forbid same-sex pairings.

Although in many countries, movies, meals, and meeting in coffeehouses and other places is now popular, as are advice books suggesting various strategies for men and women, in other parts of the world, such as in South Asia and many parts of the Middle East, being alone in public as a couple with another person is not only frowned upon but can even lead to either person being socially ostracized.

Dating as an institution is a relatively recent phenomenon which has mainly emerged in the last few centuries.

From the standpoint of anthropology and sociology, dating is linked with other institutions such as marriage and the family which have also been changing rapidly and which have been subject to many forces, including advances in technology and medicine.

As humans have evolved from hunter-gatherers into civilized societies and more recently into modern societies, there have been substantial changes in the relationship between men and women, with perhaps one of a few remaining biological constants being that both adult women and men must have sexual intercourse for human procreation to happen.

Humans have been compared to other species in terms of sexual behavior.

With the use of modern technology, people can date via telephone or computer or meet in person.

This term may also refer to two or more people who have already decided they share romantic and/or sexual feelings toward each other.

These people will have dates on a regular basis, and they may or may not be having sexual relations.