Dating Vs Courting: What Are The Differences?

Dating 101
22 May 2023
10 min read
The Differences between Dating and Courting

You may have noticed that some people are taking a break from the dating scene in favor of courting. This has caused some controversy. Many see dating as shallow, unhealthy, and even sinful. Others see courtship as outdated, sexist, and a way to push people into marriage before they are ready.

Do you wonder which of these choices might be right for you? Let’s take a look at both courting and dating objectively. Here, we will define both along with the difference between dating relationships and courtships. That includes discussing some myths that society often perpetuates about each choice. Then, you can decide the kind of relationship you want to have with your next potential partner.

What Is Dating?

It isn’t easy to apply a single definition to dating, because it encompasses so many activities, behaviors, and goals. It is the process of spending time with people socially that includes romantic intentions. There may or may not be sexual intimacy involved in dating. However, that is often one of the objectives of dating.

Related reading: Dating vs Relationship – What Are the Main Differences Between Them?

A dating relationship can vary. For example, someone may engage in casual dating with several people or just one person. This means they are not planning to start a serious relationship. Other people start dating relationships with a desire to eventually become part of a couple or potentially get married. Then there are hook ups. This is dating with the goal of having casual sex.

Myths About Dating

The people who want to dismiss dating as a bad or sinful choice often describe the process in a way that doesn’t quite reflect reality. Singles struggle, according to them, or chronically unhappy. They have wanton, unsafe sex. There’s simply no way to find a committed relationship through this path.

Of course we know this isn’t true. Someone who is looking for commitment can build a relationship with a strong foundation by dating people until they find the right person. Also, there is nothing inherently wrong with dating for sex, fun, or companionship. The goal doesn’t have to be finding someone to marry.

What Is Courting?

Courting is a more structured process with a singular goal. That is finding a compatible partner for marriage. Usually, courtship involves a vetting process where a man who is interested in courting approaches a woman’s father for permission to spend time with her. Often, he is asked questions about his values, religious beliefs, and future plans.

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When he proves that he intends to honor God’s wishes, he may be given that permission. However, couples may not be able to enjoy each other’s company alone. In many instances, the courting couple spends time with a chaperone or other mentors to avoid temptation.

Myths About Courtship

People who choose courtship often have their choices mocked and misrepresented. This usually comes in the form of presumptions that all courting couples have the same beliefs, values, and even politics. Courting may look quite different from one couple or family to the next.

8 Differences Between Dating and Courting

So, what’s the difference between courting and dating? Perhaps you are facing a choice between the two, or are just curious. Either way, these are 8 key differences.

1. The Goal of Courting Is to Honor God

Of course, this is not to say that those who date do not also honor God or find religious aspects to be important in their lives. However, the idea of courting couples is to essentially get married as quickly as possible in order to have children quickly. Those children in turn become members of the church and they go off in the future and also recruit more members of the church. All of these things attribute to one end goal and that is to honor god.

2. There Is No Singular Goal for Dating Relationships

Unless you see having a simple romantic relationship as a singular goal there really is none. A dating relationship is all about making a connection with another person. Because of a lack of goal there is strictly no commitment policy. People date in order to connect and develop intimacy.

You may find the person who you wish to be with, and you may not. However, there is less likely to be any sort of rush when it comes to a dating couple to become more than what they are ready for.

3. There Is a Focus on Marriage in Courting

A major difference between dating relationships and courting is that courting has a sheer focus on marriage. Young people are often courted at young ages in order to get them used to being around each other. With the end goal being marriage as quickly as possible, families that glorify god will often teach their children that they need to be married as quickly as possible and may even tell them that they will only be happy if they get married.

Building a husband-and-wife relationship is a key difference

4. Dating Rarely Ends in Marriage

Dating is all about developing connections and intimacy with others (whether that be physical intimacy or sexual intimacy). Although some may argue that a long-term relationship is closely related to courting, it is still an entirely different thing. It is a much more relaxed and casual approach to its standards.

When dating, you may find that the partner you were with for 5 years just hasn’t worked out. However, the partner you were only with for 6 months may be your marriage candidate.

5. Physical Intimacy Is Frowned On While Courting

During courtship, the entire family will often remind those who are courting that any form of physical intimacy is to be frowned upon. In fact, they may even shame a couple for trying to hold hands throughout their relationship before they have even started to plan out the marriage.

However, just because physical intimacy is frowned on doesn’t mean it never happens. Men and women have sex, even when their faith in God forbids. Unfortunately, there is often more pressure on women to resist temptation. Additionally, when sex does occur, it is often the woman who is seen in a worse light despite the fact that her courting partner was also involved.

When two people who have been courting decide to have sex, they need to consider how this will impact both of them, or if they want to disclose it to anyone at all. If they don’t, there is little chance anyone will find out, but they may feel guilty for breaking the rules.

Related reading: How to Be a Better Lover – Inside and Out

6. Dating Frequently Involves Sex

Although dating isn’t all about sex, this type of relationship will often involve sex. Of course, there are those who date and still practice abstinence. However, people who date rather than court often realize how differently we view sexual intimacy between each person makes these relationships much easier to handle in the future.

Family approves courting couples

7. Family or Other Authority Figures Approve a Courtship

Courtship is often seen as something that affects the whole family. As a family that worships God and wants to see a man and a woman get together with the intention of marriage, there are certain aspects that it imposes and expects to be met.

Both sets of parents, those of the man and those of the woman, need to meet up. They may ask each other questions about their relationship with God, what either person likes to do for fun, what they both seek in a partner, and what about their friends. Then they may send the two people on a couple of supervised dates to get a concept of how they do together.

If they decide they are a good match, life moves forward as they planned, and the two of them get married. Marriage is a huge commitment, and there is one thing that is right here. Marriage does affect an entire family for life. However, only certain parts of society still practice courting.

8. People Who Date Can Start a Romantic Relationship as They Choose

When it comes to dating, there are none of the hoops that you may have to jump through in order to develop a relationship that comes with a courtship. When it comes to choosing dating or courting you have to remember that dating leaves room for more fun in your relationship. You can seek out the one for you without your parents being involved. You and your partner will also not have to worry about god if you don’t want to be a part of that life.

Your romantic feelings towards each other can start as soon as you wish and not when your parents say that you’re allowed to.

Why Do Some Couples Prefer Courting?

Many people who choose courting for themselves do so for religious reasons. They believe the Bible warns against casual dating because of its connection to premarital sex. To them, the sole purpose of getting into an exclusive relationship is to discover whether someone is a potential marriage partner.

That said, there are people who are not religious but are still drawn to a courting relationship. So, they may forego the traditional rules about sexual abstinence, but embrace other aspects. For example, they might seek more family input into choosing a partner. Also, they may ask potential partners questions about marriage and lifetime commitment early in a relationship.

Why Do Other Couples Choose The Dating Scene?

For many singles, this isn’t really seen as a choice. They simply aren’t part of a group or society that finds it necessary to participate in a courtship style relationship. Dating before marriage may sometimes feel a bit more complicated; however, it leaves a person on the dating scene with more options than a courtship might.

People enjoy the option of going on dates before making the commitment of deciding to marry. After all, it takes much more than a couple of meetings to tell if two people are actually compatible to be with each other for life. One member of the couple may be highly emotional; the other may tend to forget. When they court, they won’t get to see how well they meld together.

When it comes to the difference between courting or dating, a dating relationship requires much more time than energy to figure out. However, courtship tends to require much less time for the relationship to develop which makes courting much more emotional and high energy.

Do You Really Have to Choose?

When wanting to choose between dating or courting, the answer can be hard to pin down. After all, there are those who follow the will of God who don’t court, and there are those who don’t follow the will of God that do court. Ultimately, it depends on where you stand and how quickly you want to get to the commitment of life with each other.

Courtship and dating are both very similar in terms of commitment, or eventual commitment. You spend a period with a person, developing an emotional bond that will hopefully lead to you both being together in the future. The biggest difference between the two is that in one you spend a lot more time developing that emotional bond, and the other you don’t spend nearly as much time.

In retrospect, no, you do not have to choose between courtship and dating. However, it is important to remember that courtship tends to involve your family as a whole, while dating does not. Therefore, if you are being made to participate in a courtship, you likely do not have a choice. However, if you do have the option of dating, this means that courtship is also a viable option for you.

If you do choose to enter a courtship, take everything you want into consideration. Ask family members for their honest feedback. Let them know exactly what kind of guy you think you would be compatible with. Talk about your values and plans for the future. Make it so that you have the best option for a partner for you and not just your family.

Dating does not take nearly as much energy as courting. However, this does not mean that it is easy to date. If you thought that courting was your only option and want to try dating, there are a few things you can try. Use online dating apps to talk with others before you meet them. Let the people you talk to know exactly what you want, and overall build up your confidence for the dating world. And good luck with your choice!

Love&Sex Expert
Cherie Hamilton
I’ve always been inspired by women who are outgoing, very sure of themselves, and not afraid to be who they were, including their sex lives. Under their tutelage, I gradually shed my old self, hung out and socialized with them, and, over time, became the empowered, self-confident, and sexual woman I am today. Happy to share my insights with other women today!

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