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As humans societies have evolved from hunter-gatherers into civilized societies, there have been substantial changes in relations between people, with perhaps one of a few remaining biological constants being that both adult women and men must have sexual intercourse for human procreation to happen.

Humans have been compared to other species in terms of sexual behavior.

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.

A few centuries ago, dating was sometimes described as a "courtship ritual where young women entertained gentleman callers, usually in the home, under the watchful eye of a chaperone," but increasingly, in many Western countries, it became a self-initiated activity with two young people going out as a couple in public together.

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

In modern times, emphasis on the institution of marriage, generally described as a male-female bond, has obscured pair bonds formed by same-sex and transgender couples, and that many heterosexual couples also bond for life without offspring, or that often pairs that do have offspring separate.

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.

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.Today, the institution of dating continues to evolve at a rapid rate with new possibilities and choices opening up particularly through online dating.The word "dating" entered the American language during the Roaring Twenties.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.

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