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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.

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.

The 2013 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey found approximately 10% of high school students reported physical victimization and 10% reported sexual victimization from a dating partner in the 12 months* before they were surveyed. All too often these examples suggest that violence in a relationship is normal, but violence is never acceptable.

Dating is a stage of romantic and/or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage.

Generally, during much of recorded history of humans in civilization, and into the Middle Ages in Europe, weddings were seen as business arrangements between families, while romance was something that happened outside of marriage discreetly, such as covert meetings.

From about 1700 a worldwide movement perhaps described as the "empowerment of the individual" took hold, leading towards greater emancipation of women and equality of individuals.

Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime.

Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a "normal" part of a relationship.

These species-particular behavior patterns provide a context for aspects of human reproduction, including dating.

However, one particularity of the human species is that pair bonds are often formed without necessarily having the intention of reproduction.

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.