Courtship vs. Dating: The Breakdown

I believe that we have confused courtship with dating…

Dating is what most people in the American culture do. Courtship is what most people in the American culture aspire to do, but conform to dating because either they don’t know how to court, they realize dating is easier, or they have been socialized and conditioned to find their mate one way, not the other.

Please stop using the word, “courtship” when you are actually speaking about dating.

What is Courtship?

Courtship is a mutual partnership, a journey together with the intended purpose of marriage (from the beginning). Courtship is intentional and purposeful.

Courtship is focus on marriage (or lifelong companionship). This happens from the door, not months down the road.

Men get antsy when the “M” word is mentioned. Why? A man that is intentional with a woman won’t get nervous at the sound of the word, “marriage.” In courtship, marriage is discussed, early and often. You don’t waste time playing around, having casual sex, and doing extraordinary things for a person who you don’t see in your future.

Finally, courtship is a linear process. It’s doesn’t have various different versions that are left up to perception, translation or recreation. It’s very strategic.

An example would look something like this:

Step 1: Get to know the person on a personal and spiritual level consistently. Talk about expectations, family, friends, finances, goals, and past experiences. Always have fun. Laugh, joke, and enjoy each other.. enjoy the process.
Step 2: Stay out of romantic situations
Step 3: State your intentions with each other
Step 4: Always pour into each other
Step 5: Stay out of romantic situations
Step 6: Make it official
Step 7: If you want to begin romance and intimacy, here is where I’d start
Step 8: Involve trusted family (or friends) in the process to get to know each other
Step 9: Involve your religious leader if you have one
Step 10: (Men) when you are ready, propose! Take her off the market
Step 11: Seek marriage counseling
Step 12: Make it official under God

What about Dating?

Dating has no real purpose.

You almost immediately jump into romantic situations (dinner dates)… and develop romantic feelings for each other. Real hardcore conversations are rare, and intimate encounters are abundant. As a result, the infatuation is allowed to creep in, while the intentional aspect (courting) is pushed to the side.

Ever date for months only to find out you really don’t know the person? This happens often. Then we wake up one day, in a bad relationship, or with a person who deceived us because we didn’t, properly court the situation or the person.

Most people date. [you disagree?] OK, how many people have you dated in your lifetime knowing you wouldn’t marry them? You knew this, but you still spent time with them, had sex with them, etc.

That is why dating has such a high failure rate.

Dating looks something like this:

Step 1: Meet the person (on or offline)
Step 2: Get to know a few things about them, and then jump into romantic situations based on lust and infatuation
Step 3: Feelings are involved but you barely know the person
Step 4: You’ve probably had sex by now, or at least kissed (opening up the door for more)
Step 5: You really have no idea where this is going
Step 6: You still don’t know a lot about the person you’re having sex with
Step 7: Feelings of fun and sexual pleasure override logic, and you forget you had a goal in mind (marriage)
Step 8: You finally ask “what am I to you?” Or, “How do you feel about marriage?” He responds with a blank stare or curious look
Step 9: You overlook step 8, and continue dating even though you both don’t see the other as marriage material or a long term GF/BF.
Step 10: It finally dissolves because it was never meant to be in the first place
Step 11: But you could have figured that out a lot sooner, had you courted

Or something like that…

A few things I know about Courtship and what it’s really about:

1. Mental

Unfortunately, our sex saturated culture encourages people to lust over the person they are pursuing. We need to intentionally get to know them. How do they see life? What makes them tick? How does their mind work? How will they handle themselves in adverse situations?

2. Spiritual

Unfortunately, many people compromise this principle because they are unable to find enough Christian (or whatever you practice) singles to date. However, we’ll never experience the same level of connection with an non-believer as we would a spiritual follower because they don’t share our values, beliefs, and/or worldview.

They are on a different level than we are.

3. Physical

Sex is promoted as casual and meaningless everywhere we look in our society. Consequently, most people in the dating scene expect to have sex within the first few dates. Also, when sex is acceptable, many men use women merely for physical gratification, leaving both partners feeling empty and unsatisfied. Therefore, we must develop a “flow sex” policy with the special someone we are courting. We should commit to spending time (primarily) with them in public to avoid sexual temptation — and to keep our relationship moving in the right direction.

Once you’ve truly established what you have, if you want to have sex, that’s your choice.

4. Emotional

Unfortunately, many people in the dating scene today withhold their emotions for a variety of reasons. Some don’t want to be hurt again because of previous negative experiences. Others don’t want to feel tied down so they keep their emotions surface-level. Still others avoid feeling anything substantial because they are only concerned about personal gain and physical pleasure. These approaches all hinder true intimacy. Instead, if the connection feels safe and warranted, we must allow ourselves to develop authentic feelings to cultivate god-honoring relationships.

Finally…

This is why the intentions of both parties needs to be apparent from the beginning. If you want to date… understand that there are consequences to that process.. emotional, mental, physical and spiritual consequences as we all know. A true courtship has NOTHING to do with a man [simply] pleasing, pursuing or showing a woman all his cards… But it has everything to do with both parties pursuing each other on equal playing fields, with equal investment, and equal risk.

Stop with the posts and comments about what men aren’t doing. Stop with the posts and comments about what women need to do. Gain understanding in what YOU need to do to reach the intended goal.

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32 Replies to “Courtship vs. Dating: The Breakdown”

    1. Thanks for commenting! Unfortunately, we live in a microwave society, where we want love quickly without slow-cooking it. Courtships begs for us to slow cook the process… truly get to know the person. We may have all the intentions of wanting a true courtship, but that infatuation and lust are strong! Most people yield to them both very quickly (I’m not just talking about sex). Those feelings override true logic and true courtship, and substitute them for dating. Courtship is more linear and defined… dating is a spaghetti line, with tons of confusion.

      Like

    1. I believe we have to break this down first. Going on a date vs Dating. Makes sense huh? Not really, but let me explain. The act of going on a date is not the definition of the word “dating.” One is a noun, the other is a verb. Dating is a process. To go out on dates is a part of “A” process. You can go out on “dates” or outings, while courting and dating. You can’t “date and court” because they are (by definition) two different processes. …spiritual vs worldy. Those two worlds do not mix like celibacy vs promiscuity. Let’s have casual sex for the first 6 months, the, let’s be celibate! Doesn’t make much sense doesn’t it?

      I also believe that we also confuse courtship with “wooing.” Another topic I’ll address at later date.

      Courtship isn’t a process you start “at some point after dating.” You start courtship from that point you two have agreed to take the journey together. This is why so many people don’t truly court. They date. Courtship is very serious. Dating is fickle and unsure of itself.

      Dating is testing the waters after you’ve already jumped in.

      Courtship is, finding out the average temperature of the water during that season, taking an educated guess, and then diving in.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Okay, so I guess I’m wondering what Mr. C and I are doing. We said that we love each other and we want to go on this journey together with marriage as the ultimate goal. We’re celibate, but now I don’t know if I want to ever marry again. I love him and we’re working to build a future together so are we courting or dating with a purpose?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. To be quite honest, you two have created your own path. I don’t believe what you’re doing falls under a particular category. At the end of the day do what works best for you and your relationship… courtship or dating are paths to follow, but you can create your path to success. We just need to make sure the path we are creating or allowing is healthy and consistent with the goal we have in mind. I believe a lot people do things within the cycle that don’t fall in line with the goal.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This is all true for the most part. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules. I say that because of my experience now. We both thought it would be a whirlwind romance but here we are together five years later. We have had our ups and downs but here we are still. Lol. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. First and foremost, thank you for your comment and congrats for keeping it together. That shows character and perseverance. So many people view relationships as some disposable commodity that you can jump-into and have it yield the greatest results. That is usually not what happens… you have to be ready for the bumps in the road. You can slow down, but never stop moving.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This really helped put things in perspective for me. As a 20 something, my only experience has been dating, jumping from one situationship to the next. The courting aspect has opened my eyes and helped me to start thinking long term.

    Thanks, I really appreciate this article!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Definitely appreciate the feedback (glad I could help)… Courting is so much more intentional vs dating. While both can yield positive results, one has a much higher success vs hurt rate, and confusion vs clarity rate, than the other. Please share it with anyone you feel it could help!

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    1. Thanks for commenting. I apologize for the delay it got caught in my spam. I think that if you both know that you want to get married it’s more of a courtship than dating. You’re dating with a purpose. If you meet someone and you just hook up and go out with no real plans of anything further it is dating.

      Liked by 1 person

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