Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Power of Words: Going on a Date?

Dating vs. Courtship

Side note: "Teen" vs. "young wo/man" is a post for a later time, but for this particular post, I'll use "teen" in its most literal sense of "someone with the word -teen in his age."

Anyway... Especially as Maestro reaches his teen years, the topic of "dating" and "courtship" has been taking up more and more of my attention. I have talked with the boys about both concepts many times through the years, but before I know it, push will come to shove and we'll have girls knocking at the door for more than "can so-and-so come out to play??"

So what is the big deal about dating, anyway? 

Weeeeelllll... my own history comes into play here - and so does Jeff's. I followed more of a "typical American" path when it came to dating. I had several pretty serious boyfriends through the years, and was actually engaged a number of times as well. I got too serious, too fast and have regretted that as I've gotten older. I regret the pain I caused those teens; I regret the pain I caused myself. They felt like I led them on, and I suppose I did, though I didn't mean to - at the time, I really thought I knew what it meant to love someone in such a serious way, in a way that meant for life.

activity of going on dates: the activity of going out regularly with somebody as a social or romantic partner

I've heard people say that they want their children to date around, to "see what's out there." Like the starter-marriage concept, wherein couples go into marriage with the thought that it might work out and if it doesn't... eh. No big deal, we'll just divorce and move on: no harm, no foul. But doesn't such an attitude waste time even as it plays with the emotions of both parties?

Jeff went out on dates too, but he didn't "date" anyone seriously. Instead, he went on a first date - dinner or a movie, perhaps - but with the thought in mind of Is this someone I could spend my life with? At the end of the date, if she wasn't interested, his heart wasn't invested in a "maybe" and he moved on.

Jeff's way of thinking affected our relationship and its development in a profound way. The "short version" of our story is that we were friends for a year, dated for a year, were engaged for a year and have now been married for thirteen years, with no regrets. To be honest, I don't know how long it was before Jeff thought I might be worth looking at more closely, but I do know this: he took his time and courted me instead of going for the quick win that dating might provide. 

1.       prelude to marriage: the period of a romantic relationship before marriage

2. trying to gain somebody's love: the act of paying attention to somebody with a view to developing a more intimate relationship

(According to the BING Online Dictionary)

Before we started dating even, in the friendship year, we took long walks, we talked constantly - learning the ins and outs of communicating with one another, both agreeing and disagreeing on friendly, even terms. We built a friendship that has been the underlying bedrock of our marriage. Somewhere in the dating year, he told me he loved me - and I get to be the only girl to hear that from him.  To this day, we talk for hours on end, late into the night, and there is nothing that I feel I need to keep or hide from him. 

Three generations of family
It seems to me that the ritual (there's that WORD again - "ritual" - It played a big part in my post on Proms vs. (Military) Balls too) of courtship helps provide that foundation. And if you like Wikipedia as a potential source of information, there is this opinion: 

"(Courtship) differs to (sic) dating in the sense that it is not based on the electrical feeling within oneself, but rather a deeper form of love." 

The other difference, in my clearly-biased opinion, is that courtship is more of a family affair (and my mother was clearly rooting for Jeff to stay in my life!)
My handsome fella'. Still courting me after all these years.
So which do I want for my sons? For my daughter? Do I want the seemingly endless cycle of jumping in, "going steady", giving your heart away to a "maybe" - to someone who "might" be The One for life? Or do I want my children to have a firm foundation, one that will potentially lead them to their 40th (or 50 or 60th) wedding anniversary, if that is how long they both live? 

Which side do you fall on? Courtship or Dating?

This post is linked to...

Christian Marriage Advice


  1. You know how I feel. There is no rush and there should be no fear in saying she/he is not the one and all the " love" in the world will not make it so. Even when you find the one, if God agrees there is no need to rush because he/she will be in your life as long as He wishes. My hubby of 15 years told me we would be together forever so we might as well relax and enjoy. That was 17 years ago.

    1. I love that - we'll be together forever so relax and enjoy. That is exactly it! I have to remember that for the kids!

  2. Hi there - found your blog from Homeschooling in Hampton Roads Yahoo Group - welcome! We live in Norfolk "on the other side of the water." Love this thoughtful post. I have an 18 year old who has had a "girlfriend" and endured two break-ups with her, the first time because she became enamored of an older boy, and most recently because of her anti-Christian comments. We are a Christian family, more than nominal, and so this was an issue that finally caused him to break it off. Fortunately their relationship was never as "adult," as things were in my time. I'm not a fan of "dating," although courtship seems extreme. Not sure - but my daughter is 11, so we're not quite there yet!

    1. Hello! I'm glad you stopped in. It must be very gratifying to see your son make such a difficult choice for the RIGHT reason! I think that in our society a sort of "courtship light" is more what we're likely to see and do. I suppose the difference to me is that dating is more an affair of two individual hearts, whereas courtship is more a melding and getting-to-know-you of the hearts of two families.

      As we make our move down to the VA Beach area later this year, perhaps we'll get to meet one day. I look forward to the possibility!

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your kind comment! I like what you have written here. I'm just becoming more and more convinced that this is the direction I want to go with my children; and need to go with myself. I plan to do a follow up post as well; though probably with more questions than answers - LOL!

    It seems we're not too far away either - I'm just a bit north of you in MD. I hope your move is smooth.

    1. I don't know how I missed that this comment was posted! But I did, alas, and so am replying a bit late. Our move has gone smoothly and we are relatively settled in, though my husband has been traveling a lot.

      Re-reading this post has made me realize it is time for another "words matter" post! I'll try to get to that tomorrow! Thanks for stopping by!


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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