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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.

Thus, the concept of marriage is changing widely in many countries.

Historically, marriages in most societies were arranged by parents and older relatives with the goal not being love but legacy and "economic stability and political alliances", according to anthropologists.

Still, dating varies considerably by nation, custom, religious upbringing, technology, and social class, and important exceptions with regards to individual freedoms remain as many countries today still practice arranged marriages, request dowries, and forbid same-sex pairings.

Although in many countries, movies, meals, and meeting in coffeehouses and other places is now popular, as are advice books suggesting various strategies for men and women, in other parts of the world, such as in South Asia and many parts of the Middle East, being alone in public as a couple with another person is not only frowned upon but can even lead to either person being socially ostracized.

Behavior patterns are generally unwritten and constantly changing.

There are considerable differences between social and personal values.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.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.The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country and over time.