Dating is a part of the human mating process whereby two people meet socially for companionship, beyond the level of friendship, or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or marriage. It can be a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by the couple. 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 and over time. The most common idea is two people trying out a relationship and exploring whether they are 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.
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