So, some time ago, my friend, Ore and I had this discussion on relationships from which we decided to share some excerpts. Now, this is not relationship advice or anything of the sort. Just us sharing our views on the subject. Enjoy…
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Ore: I was talking to my friend a while back about dating. She said she wasn’t dating now because she thought dating for longer than 6 months would inevitably lead to couples getting carried away or giving into temptation so unless she’s ready to marry, she’s chilling on her own for now. Just wanted to know what you thought of that.
Toxic: She’s right and she’s wrong.
She’s right on the issue of ‘dating’. The way I see it, a relationship with no long term goal of marriage is dating. One with a plan to marry is courting. I don’t believe in dating. Only courting. Once a couple is only dating and not courting, they’re more susceptible to temptation. Note that courting doesn’t mean they’re then free from temptation, just that the aim of the relationship is so different from dating that it’s harder to focus so much on sex and sexuality.
Where she’s wrong is that it’s got nothing to do with a time limit. Whether the it’s the 1st night or in 6 months, or even before the relationship starts at all; if it’s not a serious altar-bound relationship, it’s already bound to end up being about sex. Especially if it’s consensual. That whole “it’s for companionship” story is for preteens to use to fool themselves. Not honest adults. On the other hand, a couple can court for as long as 4yrs and keep themselves as long as they BOTH have the bigger picture in mind and are together agreed.
It’s really all about both their states of mind.
So even if she’s not ready to marry right away, if she meets a dude who will be ready in say 3yrs and she’s fine with that time frame and he also shares her values and beliefs, then going into a relationship with such a dude now should not be an issue.
In my opinion, she just thinks the busy preparation for a wedding will help her hold him off till after the wedding. But won’t they court (don’t want to use the word ‘date’) first before he is sure he wants to marry her and then proposes?
¯\..(•͡.̮ •͡ )../¯
Ore: Thanks, that all makes sense. I guess you’re right, it’s all about the difference between courting and dating. But don’t you kind of have to “date” before you begin your courtship? I mean, you don’t just meet a woman and think “yup, I could marry her” and then start courting, do you? If the aim of a courtship is ultimately to get married. Do you get what I mean?
Toxic: The answer (for me) is all yes. When I’m beginning to have feelings for a girl, I think “Could I marry her?” If the answer is then “Oh, I could marry her” then I might proceed with… If the answer however is “No”, I’m not going to even try to date, no matter how strong the feelings become.
Courting is generally seen as beginning from the engagement. I’m just saying that my personal PoV is when both parties have that mindset of “The intention here is for this to end in marriage”, even though a formal proposal hasn’t been made yet and they would say “We’re dating” (usually just for communication sake), then they’re really courting.
Dating, by general practice, is just so much less binding and trivializes the real intentions God had for romantic relationships.
Courting is a mindset, as is dating. Engagement is a status. Typically, people with a dating mindset go into relationships with a “This may not work out, so I must safeguard my own interests; just in case” whereas a courting mindset says “I plan for this to work out, so I’ll make whatever sacrifices I have to NOW so it does”. Basically courting entails foresight and planning ahead. Dating doesn’t.
My belief therefore is in…
Courting —> Engagement —> Marriage
Dating —> Engagement —> Marriage
Admittedly, a lucky few get to do…
Dating —> Courting —> Engagement —> Marriage
But why anyone would place the stakes of their heart on something with an obviously slimmer chance of success is beyond me.
Now, I’m not saying beginning with courtship is a guarantee for a relationship ending in marriage. Of course, it’s not as binding as marriage, so if either party decides they don’t think it’ll work, they have every right to skip. A good example is the genotype/sickle cell issue. Just saying that courting is a much better foundation for what would hopefully end up in marriage. The current divorce rates just show that, sadly, too many people go into marriage with a dating mentality and so when the going gets tough, the not-so-tough-afterall pack their bags and get going.
I choose to be different.
Ore: Well that makes sense. It still feels like a gamble. I mean, you can court and there’s still the risk that the other person may change their mind/have their feelings change and bail, but I guess that’s always a risk… One advantage I DO see to this your theory is that without sex, if things don’t work out, you’re not gonna feel like you lost out on too much; you’re less likely to feel used, which is a plus. But do you then DISCUSS marriage with someone when you first meet them?? Like isn’t that likely to freak them out and scare them off?? I’ve always thought you should ‘date’ (literally go out on formal dates e.g. Dinner, theatre, cinema, ice cream, whatever) someone for maybe a month, and then have a discussion, see if you enjoy each other’s company,and can see marriage (or some sort of future) as a possibility, and decide to “court”.
Toxic: Courting is definitely still a gamble. Just a safer, saner, more guaranteed ‘risk’ than dating.
As per beginnings though, I believe firmly in friendship first. It certainly isn’t easy but even up to when the feelings begin to stir, I try to keep things platonic. It’s how you truly get to know about the person and whether or not you want to progress to the next level of ‘risk taking’ ie hanging out, dates, dinners, etc. That way, you know what you’re really getting yourself into if/when you get to the point of asking or accepting to become mutually exclusive to each other.
At that platonic stage, I try to be honest and open on everything except my feelings (though more often than not, the darned feelings go and betray me before I even open my mouth *sigh*). Hopefully, she’s open and honest too. If we’re still interested in each other after this(assuming the interest was mutual in the first place) and haven’t learnt anything that puts a full stop to it all, it’s no longer as big a risk as when all we’re attracted to are the superficial things. It goes deeper.
PLUS, it saves everyone so much heart break!!
Again, there really is no generally acceptable time frame. All this can happen in 2wks or in 2yrs. All depends on the individuals involved.
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So there you have it. Sorry if it sounded all matter-of-factish to you. We, err, had to remove all the juicy, more personal gist before posting. :p
So, what are your thoughts on all of this?