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The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country and over time.

Cars extended the range of dating as well as enabled back-seat sexual exploration.

In the mid-twentieth century, the advent of birth control as well as safer procedures for abortion changed the equation considerably, and there was less pressure to marry as a means for satisfying sexual urges.

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.

Communities exerted pressure on people to form pair-bonds in places such as Europe; in China, society "demanded people get married before having a sexual relationship" and many societies found that some formally recognized bond between a man and a woman was the best way of rearing and educating children as well as helping to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings regarding competition for mates.

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.

Men and women became more equal politically, financially, and socially in many nations.

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

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