As with concepts like the “teenager” and “middle-class,” dating is an historically recent invention, spurred by an influx of women into the big cities seeking work around the turn of the 20th Century.
The word “date” was coined — inadvertently, it seems — by George Ade, a columnist for the Chicago Record, in 1896.
It is important to note that many of these mainstream rituals were strictly confined to heterosexual dating.
Dating as an institution is a relatively recent phenomenon which has mainly emerged in the last few centuries.
From the standpoint of anthropology and sociology, dating is linked with other institutions such as marriage and the family which have also been changing rapidly and which have been subject to many forces, including advances in technology and medicine.
In the early days of dating, many LGBT couples had to keep their relationships a secret for fear of being public stigmatized.
For this reason, the history of dating tends to be quite different for the LGBT population.