main / Thoughts

what the heck is courtship?


  • a period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship before getting married
  • [mass noun] behaviour designed to persuade someone to marry or develop a romantic relationship with one

– The Oxford Dictionary (2012)

by these definitions courtship is like the half-step before engagement. You both know you’re going to be marrying each other & you’re getting ready for that. Now, surely, there’d be a step (or few) before this? Surely you don’t see a friend you think would make a good spouse & then start getting ready for marriage? I mean, surely, surely, surely, you get to know each other outside of the friendship first, in a more-than-friend kinda space?

In secondary school, getting a boy/girlfriend was pretty easy. I like you + you like me = love(?). In college things got a bit trickier, I like you + you like me = let’s get to ‘know’ each other. Knowing each other consisted of late night MSN conversations, pillow talk, dates at Nandos & ice-skating/rollerblading – each of these could possibly end with him asking you to undress/participate in sex (oral & others) & if you did the chances of you entering the same relationship together were reduced (the joys of misogyny, ey). During uni a number of formulas are being used, the secondary school works for some and the college for others, then there are those looking for spouses. Those against mindless dating – which I too am against – who want the person they be with to be the last person they ever be with. Majority of the people I know who have this view are Christian and they have this view because of their faith/beliefs.

In our church (the seventh day adventist church), we’re taught not to date mindlessly i.e. date with a purpose and advised against dating more than one person at one time. Courting is also a big deal for those  that want to get married, obviously, & it too is taught extensively in our church. Now, usually courting comes after the dating part: you meet someone – you become friends (you like each other) – you date – you court (you get engaged) – you marry – sex. That’s the process that I’ve been made aware of however, recently I was exposed to new, shorter (or longer depending on you outlook) process: you meet someone – you become friends (you like each other) –  you court – you marry – procreation*. My issue with the latter process is that the very crucial ‘you date’ stage has been totally eradicated, so essentially you go from liking each other  as FRIENDS to PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE. Am I the only one who sees how far this jump is? I mean, the way you know a friend is definitely not the way you know a lover (I know, ‘lover’ has connotations of a sexual relationship but I mean it in the context of a romantic partner), the issues that arise in a friendship are not the issues that arise in a romantic relationship, so how exactly do you make that jump?

Personally, I’m not one that’s hung up on titles/status as long as we both know what’s happening and which direction we’re moving in. However I think there needs to be some sort of progression towards courtship, some sort of period where you’re committed to each other ’cause I mean we can’t go from being friends & you’re dating Chantelle, Laura & Ola but then you wanna court me, it’s not possible. The dating stage allows enough room for you to know each other outside of friendship, enough time to decide if this person is right for you & also can* dictate commitment. I don’t have to be labelled your girlfriend, you don’t even have to call our time spent together ‘dates’ but there does need to be that stage of progression.

Choosing a partner requires time & patience & prayer from the earliest stages. From the ‘I like you’ stage you should be praying about it really. It’s far too easy to fall in love with someone who isn’t right for you and then to marry someone who isn’t right for you and then to live in a loveless, unhappy home for the majority of your adult life. It’s all far too easy.

Noted *’s

  1. I say this because there are many deluded individuals that have the ability to enter relationships with other people except the other person doesn’t know (s)he’s in the relationship.
  2. I feel like with this process sex would only be had to procreate.
  3. Commitment doesn’t feature in all dating relationships.

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