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On the reproductive spectrum between tournament species, in which males compete fiercely for reproductive privileges with females, and pair bond arrangements, in which a male and female will bond for life, humans are somewhat in the middle, according to neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky. Humans form pair bonds but there is the possibility of cheating or changing partners. The institution marking a male-female bond has generally been known as marriage, and in most societies, and during much of human history, marriages were arranged by parents and older relatives with the goal not being love but "economic stability and political alliances," according to anthropologists. During much of human history when men were the dominant sex in a system of patriarchy, women "connived to trade beauty and sex for affluence and status," according to columnist Maureen Dowd. Men dominated women; while men and women formed pair-bonds, wives were sometimes seen as a form of property serving the function of reproduction. Communities exerted pressure on people to form pair-bonds in places such as Europe; in China, according to sociologist Tang Can, society "demanded people get married before having a sexual relationship."
In the Middle Ages in Europe, weddings were seen as business arrangements between families, while romance was something that happened outside of marriage discreetly, such as covert meetings. The 12th-century book The Art of Courtly Love advised that "True love can have no place between husband and wife." Clandestine meetings were the precursors to today's dating, according to one writer in The Guardian. A few centuries ago, dating "evolved out of a courtship ritual where young women entertained gentleman callers, usually in the home, under the watchful eye of a chaperone." Since about 1700, however, according to professor David Christian of Macquarie University in Australia, a new worldwide movement described as the "empowerment of the individual" took hold, leading to the emancipation of women and the equality of individuals. Men and women became more equal politically, financially, socially in many nations. Women earned the right to vote and own property and equal treatment by the law; and these changes had profound impacts on the relations between men and women, including dating. Among young people, initially among the lower classes, whose homes were often not "suitable for entertaining", dating in public places became more prominent, with the sense that a couple would go out to a movie or dinner with the expectation that this might ultimately lead to a relationship "the capstone of which was marriage." Advice for women was to often "play hard to get." Traditional dating activities included entertainment or a meal, and happened in that portion of a person's life before marrying, between the teen-aged years and early thirties; in 1851 in Britain, the average age of people getting married was 24 and it stayed there, dipping slightly in the 1950s, before rising to the current age of 29.
Technology has played a huge role in dating. The telephone enabled dates to be arranged without face-to-face contact; the automobile extended the range of dating as well as back-seat sexual exploration. 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. New types of relationships formed; it was possible for people to live together without marrying and without having to deal with children. Today dates in Australia and elsewhere are arranged by text messaging.
Due to the wider availability of information about traditionally secretive issues, individuals became open about their interest in sexuality both in form of dating, language and dress. Alternative arrangements such as homosexuality became more accepted. In Britain, it used to be an unwritten duty for couples to introduce single people to each other by inviting them to parties and meals, but this practice happens less and less.In an informal survey by USA Today in 2010, 300 persons responded to an inquiry about how they met, and the results suggested that the Internet was becoming an increasingly important tool for arranging dates which is eroding, to some extent, the importance of family, neighbors, and co-workers. People are becoming increasingly mobile worldwide, and are less likely to find a permanent job and settle in one town but change jobs and towns with increasing frequency;
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