The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country and over time.
While the term has several meanings, the most frequent usage refers to two or more people exploring whether they are romantically or sexually compatible by participating in dates with the other.
Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.
Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.
These are among the key findings of a national survey of dating and relationships in the digital era, the first dedicated study of this subject by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project since 2005.
Online dating services allow users to become "members" by creating a profile and uploading personal information including (but not limited to) age, gender, sexual orientation, location, and appearance.
Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents.
And 38% of Americans who are single and actively looking for a partner have used online dating at one point or another.
Dating is a stage of romantic or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a prospective partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage.
It can be a form of courtship that consists of social activities done by the couple.