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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.
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.
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.
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.