When people hear the word “courting” they flinch and are instantly transformed back to Little House on the Prairie. 1800’s. Unequal relationships between man and woman. Forced marriages. Arranged marriages. Socially awkward couples who can’t express love or “lovemaking.”
It’s a pretty cringe word, and I already feel triggered!
I totally understand if you have those images of courting because that is how I viewed it, as well. And I thought I wanted nothing to do with it. But that was before I realized, yet again, that our society and movies have warped something that is actually extremely romantic and highly effective. I know the 1990’s rom-com chick flicks look glamorous and fun, but what if I told you courting was just as fun, romantic, and far superior when it comes to giving women and men confidence and empowerment?
Sounds too good to be true. But let’s dive into a few myths and explore if courting is really as corny as we believed it to be.
Myth 1: You Have To Identify With A Label
So you met someone and you are “Facebook official.” But what language do you use to describe yourself? Dating? Courting? For many people, this is actually stressful.
When I started seeing my now-husband, I told my friends I was “dating a guy named Blake.” My parents called it “courting” and corrected me often. But I couldn’t bear the stigma of “courting.”
I wanted to get to know Blake. I wanted to hold hands and make memories. We wanted to save sex because our friendship was more important. We made getting to know each other a high priority--no question was too personal to ask. We made sure we agreed on children, retirement, careers, roles in the family, religion, politics, dreams, pets, everything! It was honestly the most amazing, intimate thing in the world having someone interested and devoted to discovering the essence of who I was. I felt emotionally safe when he fell in love with my dreams and my beliefs and my mind--not just my body. This, I thought, was dating. Just without the sex.
The most “Mr. Darcy” thing Blake ever said was, “I love you so much I’m not going to sleep with you until we get married.” Talk about chivalry. Talk about commitment. Talk about confidence. Talk about friendship. Talk about emotional security. Can you imagine a man being so in love with YOU that sex isn’t the most important thing?
The funny thing is, even though I thought I hated courting, I actually had been doing it the whole time!
What was the difference though?
We didn’t always have a chaperone, we kissed and held hands. But we knew that sex was the major boundary in our relationship. And it made us stronger having a goal together.
Yes, our society has changed. The traditional courting customs are bygone. Gross and humiliating courting rituals aren’t performed anymore (thank GOD!) But the entire point of courting is forever timeless: to pursue a committed, pure friendship with marriage in view. It’s okay if the customs are different and more modern. The point must remain the same.
I didn’t realize until later when someone misunderstood and thought we were sexually active, that “dating” meant “sexually exploring until you find one you liked.”
I felt a bit confused.
I thought dating meant going on actual, non-sexual dates. But the term became a common understanding for pre-marital, “casual” sex.
I honestly felt very lost and without a way to express what I was doing with Blake. We were dating ( i.e. getting to know each other over coffee and dinners and movies) with no focus on sex, and with the intentions of commitment and friendship. That’s the best of dating with the best of modern-day courting, right? (Can we compromise and call it a Court-Date?
Yeah, maybe not.)
However, if I dared tell someone I was courting, they would look at me oddly and say, “What is that?” I could see they were expecting me to break into a long, strange story like, “He gave my dad five goats in exchange for my hand.”
So to avoid social confusion, I avoided the word altogether.
But then I realized…
The name of the ritual isn’t what matters. What you call a relationship does not define you. Dating won’t make you sinful and courting isn’t holier than everyone else.
Your actions, in fact, matter more than terms.
In spite of all the crazy social customs of the past, and in spite of modern-day legalistic rules, the spirit of courting is ultimately to pursue marriage and commitment.
What I did find to be more powerful in my circle of acquaintances was sharing my story in love and excitement. Many girls, I found out, wanted what I had. When I shared (without judgment) how I was approaching the whole court-dating thing, the overwhelming response was, “I wish I could do that!”
At the end of the day, people aren’t persuaded by the titles you use. They are persuaded by actions like graciousness, faithfulness, happiness, maturity, and purpose.
We are here to be a testimony and a light. Arguing and identifying with labels doesn’t matter. Tell people you are dating! Or, if you’re comfortable with it, say you are courting! But either way, always share the peace and fulfillment you found in the unique way you are doing it.
Share. Be a witness. Be an example. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to loudly say, “I’m waiting to have sex until my wedding night!” Be confident in the method that has not only worked for decades but the plan God designed himself.
Myth 2: You Should Drive The Car Before You Buy It
On the eve of our wedding, a friend asked Blake why he “would buy a car before he drove it?" Blake explained. But the friend replied, “But what if sex is bad after you say 'I do'? There is no way out!”
This is a common excuse people use to justify the idea that "casual dating sex" before marriage helps them decide if they want to be with that person forever.
I’m going to share with you how to answer this question if someone starts to probe your choice to remain pure. (And someone will.)
If you love a person’s mind, their attitude, their light, their dreams, and just being in their presence, then is “bad sex” really a deal-breaker? Would you stop loving someone just because you don’t like their performance in bed? That would suggest you weren’t in love with WHO THEY ARE. You were infatuated with lust, not love.
Sex is arguably one of the few things you can actually learn and get better at in marriage. Many things can’t be learned and are permanent. It’s much harder to change someone’s attitude, personality, or thought process than it is to learn sex.
And I’ll tell you a Pro-Tip. NO ONE ever has movie perfect sex the first time. You don’t ride a bike perfectly or make a meal perfectly on your first try. And you know what? If you are really in love, it doesn’t even matter because you are together.
And really, isn’t that the point of marriage--two flawed, awkward people growing together.
Take it from a former virgin who waited: it’s highly romantic!
Myth 3: Courting Is Boring
We already established that you don’t have to identify with a label to date intentionally. However, people are still going to warn you that intentional dating (dating without sex) isn’t fun.
But that is another myth, guys.
My creative writing teacher once gave us an exercise. He gave us 60 seconds to write about anything we wanted to. After the time was up, I had only written two sentences. So he said to take out a new sheet of paper and this time he gave me guidelines. He told us to write about a little girl who just fell into a lion’s cage, and we needed to pick up the story where she looks up as the big cat comes towards her. After 60 seconds I filled out a whole page of a thrilling story!
The lesson was, you are more creative, powerful, and interesting when you have guidelines to follow. This is true with anything in life, even dating. We are not designed to break all the rules. We need them to grow.
If you make the rule to not sleep with someone until marriage, you won’t grow stagnant and unconnected. In fact, it gives you permission to know the person deeply before you become vulnerable to them. You will give yourself the creative freedom to connect in amazing and fun ways that matter emotionally if you date within boundaries.
Blake and I were very creative with our dates. And honestly, I look back on it as one of the most exciting times of my life! Being intentional has so many wonderful promises and adventures. It is what you make it! And if you truly love someone, you won't miss out.
Don’t let a broken world bully you for living your life intentionally!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Let us know in the comments what your thoughts are!