Dating is a stage of romantic relationships in humans whereby two people meet socially with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a prospective partner in an intimate relationship or marriage. It is a form of courtship, consisting of social activities done by the couple, either alone or with others. 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 people exploring whether they are romantically 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.
Dating may also involve two or more people who have already decided that they share romantic 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. This period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement.Some cultures require people to wait until a certain age to begin dating, which has been a source of controversy.
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 societies have evolved from hunter-gatherers into civilized societies, there have been substantial changes in relations between people, 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