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This period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement.Dating as an institution is a relatively recent phenomenon which has mainly emerged in the last few centuries.Social rules regarding dating vary considerably according to variables such as country, social class, race, religion, age, sexual orientation and gender.Behavior patterns are generally unwritten and constantly changing.Men and women became more equal politically, financially, and socially in many nations.Women eventually won the right to vote in many countries and own property and receive equal treatment by the law, and these changes had profound impacts on the relationships between men and women. In many societies, individuals could decide—on their own—whether they should marry, whom they should marry, and when they should marry.It generally happened in that portion of a person's life before the age of marriage, enabled dates to be arranged without face-to-face contact.

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

There are considerable differences between social and personal values.

Each culture has particular patterns which determine such choices as whether the man asks the woman out, where people might meet, whether kissing is acceptable on a first date, the substance of conversation, who should pay for meals or entertainment, Since dating can be a stressful situation, there is the possibility of humor to try to reduce tensions.

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.

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