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In the twentieth century, dating was sometimes seen as a precursor to marriage but it could also be considered as an end-in-itself, that is, an informal social activity akin to friendship.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.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.Today, the institution of dating continues to evolve at a rapid rate with new possibilities and choices opening up particularly through online dating.
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.
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.