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.
What happens in the dating world can reflect larger currents within popular culture. For example, when the 1995 book The Rules appeared, it touched off media controversy about how men and women should relate to each other, with different positions taken by columnist Maureen Dowd of The New York Times and British writer Kira Cochrane of The Guardian. and others. It has even caused anthropologists such as Helen Fisher to suggest that dating is a game designed to "impress and capture" which is not about "honesty" but "novelty", "excitement" and even "danger", which can boost dopamine levels in the brain. The subject of dating has spun off popular culture terms such as the friend zone which refers to a situation in which a dating relation evolves into a platonic non-sexual union.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Madden, Mary Research Specialist; Lenhart, Amanda Senior Research Specialist (September 2005). "Online Dating: Americans who are seeking romance use the internet to help them in their search, but there is still widespread public concern about the safety of online dating". Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
Humans have been compared to other species in terms of sexual behavior. 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. According to Sapolsky, humans are somewhat in the middle of this spectrum, in the sense that humans form pair bonds, but there is the possibility of cheating or changing partners. These species-particular behavior patterns provide a context for aspects of human reproduction, including dating. However, one particularity of the human species is that pair bonds are often formed without necessarily having the intention of reproduction. In modern times, emphasis on the institution of marriage, generally described as a male-female bond, has obscured pair bonds formed by same-sex and transgender couples, and that many heterosexual couples also bond for life without offspring, or that often pairs that do have offspring separate. Thus, the concept of marriage is changing widely in many countries.