Before living in the US
What I got from pop culture is that American people call “dating” the process of seeing someone that one is currently sexually attracted to and officially romantically involved with.
From this it is understood that the important aspect of “seeing someone” revolves around “going on dates.” For example: to go have coffee, to go have food, to go to the movies.
To go have sex? No, at least not in said movies, but that is rather an aftereffect of the MPAA. Therefore one would believe that dating is serious business, that it is codified and constitutes a long-term courtship. Think about pigeons cooing in the spring, for a really long time.