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 transsexual couples, and that many heterosexual couples also bond for life without offspring, or that often pairs that do have offspring separate.
Thus, the concept of marriage is changing widely in many countries.
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.
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.
While pair-bonds of varying forms were recognized by most societies as acceptable social arrangements, marriage was reserved for heterosexual pairings and had a transactional nature, where wives were in many cases a form of property being exchanged between father and husband, and who would have to serve the function of reproduction.
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.
These species-particular behavior patterns provide a context for aspects of human reproduction, including dating.
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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Men and women became more equal politically, financially, and socially in many nations.