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This term may also refer to two or more people who have already decided they share romantic or sexual feelings toward each other. 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 or marriage.   Some cultures require people to wait until a certain age to begin dating, which has been a source of controversy.
Generally, during much of recorded history of humans in civilization, and into the Middle Ages in Europe , weddings were seen as business arrangements between families, while romance was something that happened outside of marriage discreetly, such as covert meetings.  The 12th-century book The Art of Courtly Love advised that "True love can have no place between husband and wife."  According to one view, clandestine meetings between men and women, generally outside of marriage or before marriage, were the precursors to today's dating. 
There are now more than 500 businesses worldwide that offer dating coach services—with almost 350 of those operating in the U.S. And the number of these businesses has surged since 2005"  " Frequency of dating varies by person and situation; among singles actively seeking partners, 36% had been on no dates in the past three months, 13% had one date, 22% had two to four dates and 25% had five or more dates, according to a 2005 U.S. survey.