When I find myself using certain terminology speaking about dating and relationships, I find that there are three siblings. Chivalry, romance, and courtship. The problem is that these siblings haven’t shown up to a family reunion in a long, long time.
The difference between courtship and dating is akin to the difference between dating and ‘hanging out.’ One shows more intent and serious interest in a person than the other does. While it may be a challenge to encourage people to upgrade their efforts from just hanging out to actually going on dates, I think we simultaneously need to reinforce the value of going one step further and actually courting a woman.
First of all, in the midst of today’s text-based communications, it is sometimes difficult to understand what the person you’re talking to is really trying to say. I recently gave a talk at the University Of Central Florida in Orlando and one of the students made a comment to me that he grew up without much technology and is not very good at texting. He would rather spend time with a woman in person so she can get a clearer idea for his personality, which he does not feel he can effectively convey via text.
This is just one reason to put the effort into taking a step further and either using the phone to make a call (*gasp*), or not waiting too long before actually getting together or asking a woman on a date. Texting is great for keeping in touch, but it is the ‘hanging out’ of communication. It tries to get the job done without putting in much effort – that’s just not how life works.
Secondly, the hookup culture is creating a lot of trust issues and insecurities. Don’t get me wrong – if there is clear communication between two consenting adults that a casual arrangement is what will make them both happiest, then by all means live your life. Many of us go through that phase and come out just fine.
The issues arise, though, when there is dishonesty in these communications. Or, no communication at all. If someone is viewing the arrangement as just casual sex but the other is hoping to build a foundation for a relationship, it can only lead to heartache.
Courtship eliminates this issue because intention is clear. It requires men to put in effort to date with a purpose and it clearly shows this to the woman, which allows her to accept or decline according to how she feels in return. There is much more clarity in courtship, where the hookup culture sometimes brings confusion and uncertainty.
I am sort of an anomaly because I encourage courtship but have no issue with casual sex. I think the reason these two things coexist is because I operate under the assumption that two mature people will be open and honest with each other about what they want. They should, anyway. Not everyone is going to want a commitment and not everyone is going to want a casual hookup – the key is to just say what you mean, and mean what you say. Life quickly becomes much simpler that way.
I think that dating with the purpose of building a connection with someone and really getting to know them to gauge whether or not you would want them to be a substantial part of your life (and vice versa) is the effort required to really develop a solid foundation. How else would we go about it? When we step back and really look at the dating process, we have to ask ourselves if what is currently accepted as ‘normal’ in society really makes sense for people who want to be with someone long term.
Right now, I think the answer is…not really.
Courtship has many different benefits for both parties:
– It eliminates trust issues because it requires you to back up your words with actions, so it is easy to weed out who is the real deal and who is not.
– It stops you from wasting your time with people who are not truly interested in the same things that you are.
– It boosts your self worth because you are working alongside someone who you know cares about you and is putting in effort to build a bond together.
And perhaps most importantly – it provides a more prominent sense of fulfillment. I think a lot of us really are looking for a connection with someone. And if we aren’t now, we will be eventually when we get tired of whatever it is we are doing. Staying casual and carefree is great, but only until you have the realization that you may be searching for something in a place you will never find it.
We only want attention from multiple people until we experience how much better it is to just get it from the right one.
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