Courting vs Dating

By Lindy Earl

I do see a difference between courting and dating.  I know . . . courting is old fashioned. So what?  There are a lot of old fashioned ideas that I believe we need to bring back, such as manners and loyalty in relationships.

Like other divorced people, my dating experience has rebegun after a 28 year hiatus. I began dating in high school, where there were a plethora of people looking for dates. We knew what to expect on this date: maybe a movie or a sports game, followed by an awkward kiss on the porch when he walked her to the door.  We all knew the formula.

When we began dating post-divorce, so many things had changed.  For one, and for many the biggest one, where do we meet people?  In school we met hundreds of people who were equally single.  Now, the vast majority of people I meet are married, and have been for years. It’s simply difficult to meet someone organically anymore!

Another difference:  none of us are chaste any longer, so the good-night kiss became a question.  I’m completely unsure how or why, but this idea of sleeping with people we have only just met, or have been out with a grand total of three times, is absolute lunacy to me!  Just because we’re older does not mean that we have to be irresponsible or lose our morals.

So, in dating again, I was originally just trying to learn how life works after divorce.  Like others, I met some interesting men and had some interesting dates.  After doing this for a few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to be dated, I want to be courted.

Someone can date multiple people at once.  I admit, I once had three dates in a single day in College.  I was happy about it at the time, but not anymore.  I was really only interested in one of the guys, and the other two just kind of happened. One I never saw again and the other became a great friend. The one I went on to date lasted a few months.

Dating, in my mind, means short-term.  Let’s go out, find out if we enjoy one another’s company, find some commonalities, and decide to move forward.  Yes, first dates can be fun!  But if, after five dates, you’re stuck in that pattern, then you might want to stop.

But, after you’ve settled into a relationship, and you’re only dating one another, then there can be some old fashioned courting.  The gentleman, now that you’re past meeting in a public place for safety reasons, should pick up the lady. Manners should be displayed on both sides – timeliness and small talk, for instance.  Yes, the lady should be ready and waiting without any games.  The gent should be on time as well.  Both have a responsibility to carry their end of a conversation.

Are flowers necessary? Not necessarily. Things like flowers are really a personal decision based on love languages.  I think flowers are great, but I’m far happier with acts of kindness. So, skip the flowers and mow my lawn. Of course that’s just me, but you get the idea.  As you court someone you try hard to learn their likes and dislikes so that you can be the best partner that you can be.

Courting is more intentional.  One or both of the couple recognize the potential of the relationship and decide to move forward.  There is great communication in courting. People are encouraged to be their real selves.  They make one another feel wanted, needed, and even pursued (not in a creepy way). They both feel desired and important.

Time is intentionally set apart, and the Significant Other becomes a priority.  It’s not that permission is required to hang out with other friends for a night, but that you want to be sure that your SO is on the same page.

In the situation of post-divorce, children and other family members remain important, but in a courting relationship, the SO is included in family events.  There may not be a marriage yet, or maybe none at all, but there is commitment.  In a courting relationship, the importance of the SO is made clear to everyone.

In courting, you are exclusive.  Now, being exclusive doesn’t guarantee being courted, but it’s great when it does!  Is your SO courting you? You’ve had the exclusivity talk, you’re committed to one another.  You believe that this relationship will last forever – if those are all your goals, then you’re on the right path. Try moving from dating to courting and see where it leads.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.

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