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.
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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.
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.