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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.It generally happened in that portion of a person's life before the age of marriage, enabled dates to be arranged without face-to-face contact.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.
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.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.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.
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Neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky constructed a reproductive spectrum with opposite poles being 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.