As humans societies have evolved from hunter-gatherers into civilized societies, there have been substantial changes in relations between men and women, 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.

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.

New types of relationships formed; it was possible for people to live together without marrying and without children.

Information about human sexuality grew, and with it an acceptance of all types of sexual orientations is becoming more common.

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.

Accordingly, there was little need for a temporary trial period such as dating before a permanent community-recognized union was formed between a man and a woman.

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.

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.

Cars extended the range of dating as well as enabled back-seat sexual exploration.