I was asked to give my opinion on an article, Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed. I love being asked for my opinion because I’m generally pretty opinionated. And this article talks about dating, something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about in the last few months.
In sum, this article makes a few main points, which I’ll go over briefly. I’d recommend going to read the article yourself (I even linked it for you so you have no excuse).
- He talks about what courtship is, which is good because I don’t really know. Honestly, the only thing I knew about courtship was that the people who talked about it were usually people who I didn’t want to model my love life after (no offense).
- Courtship, according to this guy, has some of these characteristics: high accountability, asking the permission of the girl’s father to begin courting, rules about physical contact/purity, intention to marry, etc.
- The author’s main point is that courting puts too much pressure on young people because of the implied intention to marry. He goes so far as to call courtship a “pseudo-engagement.”
- The writer proposes a dating model similar to his grandparents. This would best be described as casual dating without the certain conotations it might carry today. Basically, young people were encouraged to go on as many dates as possible. This kept them from getting too serious and too wrapped up in each other too soon. This also helped youngsters back then to know by the time they reached marryin’ age what type of person they wanted to marry.
My opinion on this topic is informed, as all opinions are, by my particular context. I feel like I have one foot in two different camps, somewhat separate but often overlapping. I hesitate to use terms as glib as Christian and secular, but I don’t know how else to really distinguish the two. I grew up in and around the church, and 2/2 of my serious relationships have taken place in that context. That said, much of my “dating” experience of the last two and a half years has taken place in a, uh, different context. I have met men at places where they serve alcohol (lol, bars). I have met them online. I have met them on the train. I have randomly reconnected with people from high school. I have found these two “camps” very, very different. Both have drawbacks and both have positives, but I don’t think either one can be deemed “better” or “worse,” “right” or “wrong.” And here’s why:
I don’t have a very lengthy dating history. When I say “dating,” I mean people I have called my boyfriend, said “I love you” to, and introduced to my parents. Both of these relationships were very serious from the start. The first relationship lasted almost three years while I was in high school. I thought, along with almost everybody else, that we would get married. We talked about it extensively. When that relationship ended in a really dramatic way, I didn’t know how to reorient my idea of what my future was supposed to be. I was supposed to marry this guy, so now that I wasn’t, what was I supposed to think?
The second, much shorter, relationship was just as intense, if not more. Promises of love and marriage were made much, much too soon, but “when you know, you know”, you know? When that relationship ended suddenly, I mourned not only the relationship itself but also the future I had built up in my head and my heart that was now ripped out from under me. I didn’t just have to “get over” the number of months I had been with him; I had to “get over” the future years I would never spend with him.
With these experiences in mind, I am inclined to agree with the writer. Date around! Be casual! Guard your heart! Know what you want!
But wait! There’s more. I have found myself in the casual dating world and I don’t like it. I think I like Taylor Swift’s new song so much because I relate to one line in particular: I go on too many dates, but I can’t make them stay. My love life in my circle of friends is a running joke because I meet a lot of guys. I am sure they think I’m some boy crazy woman of ill repute because we have been raised in the “date to marry” mindset, but that didn’t work out so well for me.
But “dating around” carries its own drawbacks. For example, I am not a casual person. I find it exhausting to try to maintain interest in more than one guy at a time because I get so invested. Maybe some would say this is a fault of mine, but I’m not so sure. I have a big heart, and when you’re in it, I’m passionate about keeping you there. This hasn’t worked well for me either. I get too wrapped up in someone who wants to remain casual. I want to talk all day every day, see them at every opportunity, and then I wonder why they run for the hills! (That hasn’t actually happened and I’m getting better at not suffocating people…) I want a relationship, you know boyfriends and stuff, when they don’t want that. I can’t change their desire not to be in a relationship, but I also can’t change my desire to be in a relationship.
So then, what do I do? Do I bide my time and try to be cool and awesome and trick some poor guy into dating me? Do I say, “Screw you, good sir,” and move on to the next? Sure, being patient and seeing where things go might seem like a reasonable, mature choice, but what of the crippling anxiety, being unsure of important aspects of how these casual things work, and the lack of true commitment and intimacy, which is what I crave anyway? The latter option is praised by some as self-respecting and independent, but maybe it’s actually a little entitled: Give me what I want, and give to to me now, or get out of my face, you fool! (I’m actually still trying to figure that one out.)
This is super long, so I’ll try to wrap this up with my overall point:
No one can decide this for you. You can’t just blindly follow what someone tells you you shoulddo. Dating and being in relationships is a scary thing, mostly because you can end up really hurt (trust me).
So at the end of the day, I don’t care whether you court someone or go on a different date each week. What I care about is why you are doing it that way and how you have reasoned through it. I care that you are being authentic and attentive to other people’s feelings, because no one likes getting their feelings hurt. Each person is different, so their approach to dating will be different. I’d be a fool to tell you what to do.
And anyway, judging from my anecdotes, I don’t know what I’m doing either.