If two (or more) people are explicitly making time for each other, and it becomes clear in the course of spending this time together that there is a mutual desire to sleep with each other and continue spending time talking to and engaging in activities together, particularly if feelings are developing and embraced as an integral part of that interaction, I say those people are dating, whether they know it or not.
Is the purpose of dating just a pre-marriage ritual that you must go through to hook someone for marriage? What are the true purposes of dating? The reason many singles have failed in the dating game is that they have never clearly understood their objectives. If you ask a group of singles, "Why are you dating?" the answers would range from "to have a good time" to "to find someone to marry." In a general sense, they know that the end of all of this may lead them to marriage, but they are not clear as to other specific objectives.
Numerous television reality and game shows, past and current, address dating. For example, the dating game shows The Dating Game first aired in 1965, while more modern shows in that genre include The Manhattan Dating Project (US Movie about Dating in New York City), Blind Date, The 5th Wheel, and The Bachelor and its spinoff series, in which a high degree of support and aids are provided to individuals seeking dates. These are described more fully here and in the related article on "reality game shows" that often include or motivate romantic episodes between players. Another category of dating-oriented reality TV shows involves matchmaking, such as Millionaire Matchmaker and Tough Love.
Historically, marriages in most societies were arranged by parents and older relatives with the goal not being love but legacy and "economic stability and political alliances", according to anthropologists. 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. Communities exerted pressure on people to form pair-bonds in places such as Europe; in China, society "demanded people get married before having a sexual relationship" and many societies found that some formally recognized bond between a man and a woman was the best way of rearing and educating children as well as helping to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings regarding competition for mates.