Friday, September 20, 2013

Dating and Courting

Often times I see discussions around dating and courting, pitting them against each other. However, based on my own experience I think there's some overlap.

My young adult daughter came home recently from a "Real Talk" event at her church where they were discussing dating and courting. She came away a bit confused and used me as a sounding board to help clarify her thoughts. Then I saw this article today which gives one family's take on courting.

Dating in its simplest form is meeting people and participating in an activity together. This can be eating out, going to the movies, or taking a walk around a lake; this can also be in a group setting or as a couple.

Courting seems more intentional in that you may do the same activities that you would do on a date but you know already that you intend to spend the rest of your life with this person. Courtship also seems to have ingrained cultural norms associated with it, while dating seems more free form and distinctly American.  

I did not come from a culture that practices courting, but dating also seemed a bit foreign to me.

So how did this good Christian girl from an overprotective family (i.e. no dating, etc) find the one for her or the man of her dreams (if I'm being overly romantic)?

First and foremost, know you. Know who you are, know why you believe what you believe, know your boundaries and physical limitations.  College was a great time for me to explore; I was on the Track Team and the men and women practiced together.  There were lots of opportunities for interaction and just getting to know the opposite sex better. I had mostly positive encounters, but I was oh so stupid in some of my explorations. It was through these explorations I learned what I was all about and what I wanted if I ever got married. It was also through some of these situations I realized that it was best to know before- hand where I drew the line when I was with anyone. I guess this was dating, but I never viewed it as such.
Christians have an aversion to dating (and rightly so) especially if prolonged dating of one individual leads to physical intimacy before its time. Also if dating is a series of relationships with no long term commitment, then in my opinion it's best to preserve your soul and save yourself the heartache. When I think about my time in college, I have some regrets. Each time my heart was disappointed, I literally had to start over again. I wasn't actively dating, I simply talked and connected with males through normal daily activities. I didn't view it as dating, so it wasn't so hard to meet people. In college my sole motivation was to have a boyfriend, since it seemed everyone had one. I wanted a boy who was a friend, not a mate. I also had some unrealistic expectations based on reading one too many romance novels.
Enjoy life and remain open. I met my husband at church, but it's not as idyllic as it sounds. The timing of him showing up at our church was after a series of unfortunate events that occurred with another newcomer to our church who was also from Jamaica. My husband was fighting an uphill battle from the start. Anyhow, he fought the battle and won. Initially when I met him, I wasn't thinking husband, but I liked him and there was something gentle and genuinely different about him. I liked being around him, I liked talking to him, and I had a good time with him. Yes, we talked about spiritual things but we also talked about any and everything else. No, our parents never went out with us, but I included him in family activities as often as I could. His parents were overseas, but when they visited I met them (and they loved me from the beginning! :)) He initially proposed the idea of marriage and wanting to spend the rest of his life with me.
Courtship and commitment - though I've never used the word courtship to describe any of our two years together I would venture to say that we were courting. When he asked for my hand in marriage he met with my dad, as custom dictates and is the proper thing to do (my husband is highly principled). Once we were engaged, we spent a lot of time together - alone and in large groups. Of course we were physically tempted, but we never gave in to that temptation probably because it was a strong NO NO for both of us. We did not push the envelope. Planning the wedding was a lot of fun, especially because he was the primary planner. But more importantly I could see his commitment to me and us, in all of his actions.

In my life, it was not an either or proposition. At a certain point in time, courting encompassed dating. We were young adults and we used God’s word, our families and ourselves to keep us accountable. For my children, I would not want to go out on a regular basis with them and their potential mates. I would want to know this person and therefore would provide opportunities to get to do so. I would also hope that any child of mine would value their parent's input in this important decision. I would not want any of my children to marry without me having some thought or insight in to the person they would be spending the rest of their lives with

“There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman. Proverbs 30:18-19

What’s your take on courting and/or dating? Are they mutually exclusive or do they overlap? What was your experience?

1 comment:

  1. This is interesting. I never knew any of this about you. This is very interesting..


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