When it all comes down to scientific basics, humans were made to reproduce offspring and form pair bond arrangements where it is assumed that men and women should stay coupled for life. However, we know now that this is not the case anymore, what with the possibility of cheating and changing partners.
This institution of a male-female bond has always been referred to as ‘marriage’, and in human history marriages were arranged by parents and older relative, not with the goal of the relationship being ‘love’, but instead for economic stability and political alliances, according to anthropologists.
During much of human history, men have always been considered the more dominant and strong sex. Wives were often seen as a form of property for reproduction purposes only.
Many communities across the world pressured men and women to form bonds and get married before having any sexual relations.
In the Middle Ages, European weddings were treated like business deals between families. Ironically, romance was something that occurred outside of marriage very discreetly. The 12th-century book The Art of Courtly Love advised, “True love can have no place between husband and wife.” These secret meetings were definitely the precursors to the equivalent of today’s “dating” scene.
A few centuries ago, ‘dating’ became a type of courtship ritual where women would entertain men, usually in a home setting under the watchful eye of a chaperone. Since the 1700s, however, a movement described as the “empowerment of the individual” led to the equality of individuals, especially women. Men and woman became more socially and politically and financially equal in many nations across the world. These changes had profound impacts on how men and women treated each other; especially when it came to dating.
Dating in public places became more prominent – especially amongst young men and women from lower classes seeing as their homes were not in the best shape to host – going to movies and dinner became the norm, and the assumption with dating was the relationship would ultimately lead to the capstone that is marriage.
In 1851 in Britain the average age for young men and women to get married was 24. In the 1950s the average age for marriage was 29.
The introduction of technology has had a huge impact on dating. The telephone allowed for dates to be arranged without having to meet face-to-face. The automobile allowed the range of dating to be extended and also allowed for more sexual exploration opportunities.
The invention of birth control made sexual exploration more socially acceptable, which in turn made it more socially acceptable for couple to live and sleep together without having to get married.
The invention of the Internet allowed for people to meet online and use online dating sites to find love, friendship and sex. And now, the inventions of smart phones allow us to text-date and use social media applications to find potential partners.