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Dating is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two people with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. While the term has several meanings, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple.
The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country. The most common idea is two people trying out a relationship and exploring whether they're compatible by going out together in public as a couple, who may or may not yet be having sexual relations. This period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement or marriage.
From the perspective of the history of humans in civilization, 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...