Before the 1960s, dating as we know it did not exist. Those who dated did so with the intent of finding a future marriage partner. Today this is referred to as courting.
After the women's movement, the men's movement, the sexual revolution, and other movements that have shaped modern Western culture, this "old-fashioned" form of dating waned in popularity, giving way to what became known as "hanging out" and "hooking up". Formal dating, where one person (usually the male) contacts another person (usually the female) to arrange a date became replaced with more casual encounters, including casual sexual encounters.
In recent years, a number of college newspapers have featured editorials where students decry the lack of "dating" on their campuses. This may be a result of a highly-publicized 2001 study and campaign sponsored by the conservative American women's group Independent Women's Forum, which promotes "traditional" dating.