- March 11, 2021
Courting…Dating Vintage Style!
By Erica Sheridan, MA, LPC
Do you feel like you can’t connect with modern dating? Try courting instead! Courting is a type of dating style that’s coming back in fashion big time. Over the past decade, dating has become easier, quicker and more impulsive – thanks in large part to online dating sites and apps. But, some might feel like these methods aren’t the romantic start to a relationship they’d like. I’d like to make a case for courting as a means to finding love.
“Courting” someone comes from the word “courtship.” It describes the period of time before two people enter a relationship. The word courtship can mean many things to different cultures, with some describing it as an inherently religious practice. But, courtship wasn’t born out of any religious scripture. In fact, in the 1800s it was the standard way of pursuing someone with the intent of marriage.
Courtship is the period of development towards an intimate relationship wherein a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement, followed by a marriage. A courtship may be an informal and private matter between two people or may be a public affair, or a formal arrangement with family approval. Traditionally, in the case of a formal engagement, it is the role of a male to actively “court” or “woo” a female, thus encouraging her to understand him and her receptiveness to a marriage proposal.
Courtship is not just an act; it is a philosophy. This philosophy believes three things: 1. Parents or wise family/friends should be involved in their children’s relationships, 2. Any relationship worth having will result in marriage, 3. Sex is a privilege for those who are married or in a committed and mutually exclusive relationship. These three concepts make courting unpopular with mainstream society who seek to make their own decisions without input from parents, who do not believe that relationships have to result in marriage, and who believe sex is just a recreational activity.
Dating, a more modern approach, begins when either the man or the woman initiates a more-than-friend’s relationship with the other, and then they conduct that relationship outside of any oversight or authority. Dating may or may not have marriage as its goal.
Simply put – courting is the time before a relationship starts when the couple gets to know one another, exchange gifts and determines the viability of a long term committed relationship. Historically, courting has been a male pursuing a female, but it’s 2021, thankfully anybody can court anybody these days. So, if you’re looking for a long-lasting relationship and want a slower pace than today’s speedy dating culture, then courting might be for you.
One of the biggest questions or possible objections to courting is the topic of physical intimacy. Because of courtships’ old-fashioned roots and religious overtones, intimacy can be viewed as a no-no. However, in the modern world, this isn’t achievable for most couples. Instead of staving off intimacy completely, instead, react to your partners physical and emotional cues. If they are giving off signals that they would like to become more intimate in your relationship, follow their lead if you’re also interested. Think of intimacy as a bonus, not the goal. I personally suggest that intimacy be saved for the serious, committed and exclusive relationship.
Courtship can steer you clear of short term flings. Dating without a purpose can lead to hurried experiences and quick trips to bed. Often these quickies get in the way of developing true emotional intimacy. Courting has a few key components.
Exclusivity is the key to courting. When people start online dating it’s natural to be in contact with multiple people. It’s an integral part of the experience of online dating to talk to lots of other singles. It’s also normal to meet and date multiple different people, especially if you’re having a lot of first dates which can peter out quickly if there’s no spark. When you’re courting someone, it’s important to give that person your full attention, which can be hard if you’re constantly weighing your options. Try dating one person at a time, instead of juggling several people. This will give more importance to a first date and make it more special for both of you.
Courtship can take place from organic meetings or from online sources. More and more people are leaning towards organic meetings. Many people involved in online dating find the whole experience as distasteful, frustrating and sometimes even degrading. I know—I am one of those thousands railing against the deceptiveness and frustrations brought on by wading through the online dating swamps.
Courting brings back an air of dignity and appreciation for each other. Courting requires you to think about your goals, your desires, your emotional intelligence and your attributes. You come to recognize what you bring to the table and you discover what you want and need from a partner. You embrace a stronger sense of self and purpose. Mindless dating can leave one to think reactively vs proactively. Think about the cliché’ “If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail.” I know I know…there are many instances where couples met and fell in love at first sight, dove into bed within twelve hours and have been happily married for 43 years. But, they are the exception.
Ladies—value your soul and your body. Don’t let anyone touch the merchandize until you know where this man will take you. The old cliché’ phrase echoes thought my mind….I think that it still stands true today. “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” And cleverly so the response has come about that says. “Why would a woman buy the whole hog for just a little sausage?” Gentlemen, practice some self-control and honor that woman as if she was the most precious jewel to gaze upon. How would you want someone treating your mom, sister, niece, auntie etc.?
Courting integrates parents into the very core of a relationship. From the moment the man and woman decide to move toward a relationship, the parents are brought into the picture and allowed to give their opinions. But consider this…. many singles have spent years out on their own studying, working, traveling, living their adult lives. Perhaps inviting parents into the equation to say “yeah or nay” feels too intrusive, but at least a young adult can invite a parent or trusted adult into their dating world for some wisdom and guidance. Under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents or mentors, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage and God’s timing for their marriage.
We can factor in another benefit of courting. Often when we meet someone that we desire romantically, there is the issue of chemistry and/or lust. That lust can render you goofy. Your parents, on the other hand, are sober and unmoved by “physical attractiveness. ″ We all put our best foot forward when trying to win someone’s affections. Parents can see right through it and get down to business.
I tell my clients to look at their time, energy, attention and resources as finite and precious. Dating with a purpose such as utilizing courtship can save you so much heart ache and time. Your time is very valuable. Do not waste it.
Please feel free to leave your comments, thoughts or questions below. I would love to hear from you!
Erica Sheridan, MA, LPC
Licensed Counselor, Dating Coach