This period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement or marriage.Dating as an institution is a relatively recent phenomenon which has mainly emerged in the last few centuries.Information about human sexuality grew, and with it an acceptance of all types of sexual orientations is becoming more common.

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

Neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky constructed a reproductive spectrum with opposite poles being tournament species, in which males compete fiercely for reproductive privileges with females, and pair bond arrangements, in which a male and female will bond for life.

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.

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

Historically, marriages in most societies were arranged by parents and older relatives with the goal not being love but legacy and "economic stability and political alliances", according to anthropologists.

Accordingly, there was little need for a temporary trial period such as dating before a permanent community-recognized union was formed between a man and a woman.

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.

In the mid-twentieth century, the advent of birth control as well as safer procedures for abortion changed the equation considerably, and there was less pressure to marry as a means for satisfying sexual urges.

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

While pair-bonds of varying forms were recognized by most societies as acceptable social arrangements, marriage was reserved for heterosexual pairings and had a transactional nature, where wives were in many cases a form of property being exchanged between father and husband, and who would have to serve the function of reproduction.