Dating is a stage of romantic relationships in humans whereby two people meet socially with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a prospective partner in an intimate relationship. It is a form of courtship, consisting of social activities done by the couple, either alone or with others. The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country and over time. While the term has several meanings, the most frequent usage refers to two people exploring whether they are romantically or sexually compatible by participating in dates with the other. With the use of modern technology, people can date via telephone or computer or just 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. 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. Some cultures[which?] require people to wait until a certain age to begin dating, which has been a source of controversy.