Brief Thoughts on Courtship and “Dating”

[This is a fairly hastily written post, and one that is more stream of consciousness than anything else. I will probably take this material and re-organize it some point in the future, but until then I wanted to get my thoughts down and see what people think of them.]

The topic of “dating” and the dating culture has been on my mind a lot lately, and has received mention in my last post and the post before. So when I read the latest post by April over at Peaceful Single Girl, a fire was lit in my mind. The actual inquiry of the post was not what occupied my attention, however. Rather, it was the title: “Accepting Attention from a Guy who has a Committed Girlfriend.” [April has since changed it]

Something bothered me about it at first, and then I realized what the problem was: the term “Committed Girlfriend.” I realized that this was an oxymoron, and noted as such in a comment at her blog, which I will replicate here (plus typo corrections):

There is no such thing as a “committed girlfriend.” The term is an oxymoron. The word itself is a recent invention, scarcely over a hundred years old. And it signifies a woman whom a man has not committed to. Commitment comes into play only when a couple is engaged or betrothed.

Unfortunately, the dating culture has infiltrated deep into Western culture, and the notion that you can have a “committed girlfriend” has come along with it. Now, I don’t mean to call April out over this, because I’m sure she never thought twice about using the two words together like that. After all, I didn’t realize it right away either. It only goes to show just how far the rot has penetrated our culture.

Truth is, the words “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” shouldn’t ever be used in a Christian context. They are connected to a system, “dating”, which embodies a lifestyle and mode of thought which are incompatible with Christian teaching and living. In addition, there is another, more practical reason why dating should be rejected: its notion of “Exclusivity.”

Dating as a Disorder

As I have explained before, dating is a monstrous chimera which combines the SMP and the MMP together in an unholy union. When the word “dating” is used, it can included a whole range of activities which range from the sinful to the foolish to the outright bizarre. As commenter Deti explained it:

No one teaches you through it. No one coaches you. No one can teach or coach you, because there’s nothing to teach. There are no rules, no customs, no traditions, no constants, and no common frames of reference. It’s different for everyone.

Fundamentally dating means whatever you, or someone else, wants it to mean. And this is something Christians need to reject. While we shouldn’t resort to legalism, we recognize that the Christian process of seeking a spouse is one that includes rules and proper modes of behavior. We are called to chastity, and fornication is a clear sin with serious consequences. By its nature it is a system with a few winners and a lot of losers. Nor is there anything that can be “fixed”, because it was never right to begin with.

Exclusivity

Tying into the impetus for this post is the fact that “dating” encourages what we might call Exclusivity or the “steady” boyfriend/girlfriend. The idea is simple: you have a single boyfriend/girlfriend who you go “steady” with, that is, you date them and only them. This is where the notion of the “committed boyfriend/girlfriend” comes from, even though there is no commitment at this point. If you “date” someone else on the side, then you are “cheating.” Frankly, this last word seems appropriate, because in my mind the whole thing is a sick game played by the Adversary.

But sticking to the topic, this exclusivity is foolish and should be utterly rejected. Yes, that is right, I am arguing against going “steady.” The idea that you should “date” a single person at a time is an inefficient at best, and wasteful and dangerous at worst. Simply put it is an awful system for finding and keeping a marriage partner. It has no basis in history or tradition. In short, it should be thrown out. Why is it so bad?

1) Time Waste- “Dating” someone to determine if they are worth marrying can take a long time. 6 month to 18 month “dating” periods are far from uncommon. Then throw in the engagement period. Well, what happens if it doesn’t work out? Suppose you date someone for a year only to learn that it just won’t work out? Well, guess what? That year was wasted. Whatever insights you gained are far less valuable than the time lost. This is doubly true for women. A woman who spends a year “dating” only to learn that it won’t lead to marriage just lost a year of fertility that she is never going to get back.

2) Encourages Complacency- If you are going “steady” with someone, you might not feel the impetus to speed things up towards marriage. This is something that is probably more likely to “afflict” men than women, but it can happen to both. However, if you are part of a system where the guy or girl you are “seeing”  (calling upon, or being called upon) has other potential interests or suitors, then you have an incentive to decide sooner rather than later. Basically, you have to worry that someone else might propose to her first, or he might propose to someone else first. In either case, it discourages drawing out the courtship process. This is a potential concern because “Hard Monogamy” is not natural to either men (who are naturally polygamous) or women (who are naturally serially monogamous). [Ed note: Interesting theory/observation: When Hard Monogamy is socially enforced men are forced to switch from their natural polygamous inclination to a pseudo-hypergamous one] Men will resist committing because they are inclined to “play the field”, while women are hypergamous and so are inclined to wait for a better option to come along.

3) Restrictive- A dating system which encourages “going steady” is a system where men and women cannot consider many serious marriage partners. The requirements of going steady mean that they will miss out on a lot of potential spouse candidates because they are locked with their current partner. I happen to think that finding a good match is as much a numbers game as anything, and “dating” gets in the way of considering enough potential spouses.

To sum up everything I said before: Exclusive dating where you date only a single person at a time to vet them for marriage is a time waste, encourages complacency and overly restricts the potential spouses you can meet. As such, Christians should emphatically reject this system.

Calling, Courtship and Engagement

I propose that instead of a “dating” system that something akin to the old concept of courtship be instated. Without giving it too much thought, I think a three step process/system would be ideal. Step 1 is the “Calling” phase, Step 2 is the “Courting” phase, and Step 3 is the “Engagement” (or Betrothal) phase. The basic gist is that single young women interested in marrying would (through their family) make it known that they were looking to marry. Word would get out, and single young men interested in marriage would direct their attention towards these young ladies, all through a filter of family and community support.

Step 1- Calling: During this phase the young men (Gentleman-Callers) would “call” upon the young women (Ladies-in-Waiting), that is, visit them either at home with her family present or at an event designated for the purpose. I should note this would be after receiving permission to call upon the young lady from her family beforehand. They would engage in a discussion/interview where they would try to learn more about one another. Assuming that both parties found this somewhat agreeable at first, this process would continue for a while over a series of different visits and events. These discussions would be light in tone, mostly just filtering to see if there was some kind of spark, and any glaring obstacles to marriage. However, the important thing is that each Gentleman-Caller would be calling upon potentially many young women at once and each Lady-in-Waiting would have many of those Gentleman-Callers visiting her. All in all this process could take a number of months.

Step 2- Courtship: Once a Lady-in-Waiting has been open to visitation long enough, and has had sufficient time to vet a number of Gentleman-Callers, she will narrow down the (hopefully) slew of men calling upon her to a smaller number of Suitors. These men will be able to Court her, that is, to actively seek to determine if they are compatible and should marry one another. Of course, they would have to receive family approval to move to this next step as well. Whereas Step 1 was “light duty”, Step 2 is a more serious affair. The young woman should be seriously considering the young men who are her Suitors, and trying to determine which of them would suit her best as her husband. Meanwhile, the Suitors will be trying to determine if the young lady in question is worth their lifetime commitment. Depending on the situation, a man might be a Suitor for several young women at once, especially if he is high value (aka has a high LAMPS score). During this phase the families should meet to make sure that there won’t be any conflicts which could trouble the marriage. This process should take a few months, say 3 or 4 to be safe.

Step 3- Engagement: Once a Suitor is convinced that a Lady-in-Waiting would make a good wife, he will seek permission to marry her from her family. Assuming that they grant it, he can propose to her. If she accepts, then they become engaged. (If she doesn’t accept, it can be either a flat out rejection, in which case he turns elsewhere, or she asks for a little time to think on the matter. But this should be a few days to a week or two, at most.) At this point, and this point only, they become exclusive. The gentleman ends all of his other courtship and calling, and the young lady dismisses any remaining Suitors or Callers. Wedding plans are made, as well as plans for the marriage itself.

So anyways, these are my initial thoughts on the subject. As I said, pretty stream of consciousness stuff. So have at it, and tell me where I am wrong, point out how foolish I am, and so on and so forth.

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32 Comments

Filed under Blue Pill, Christianity, Marriage, Polygamy, Red Pill, Serial Monogamy, Sexual Market Place, Sexual Strategies

32 responses to “Brief Thoughts on Courtship and “Dating”

  1. The terms boy/girlfriend originate from the times when traditional sexual norms still reigned but premarital sexual relations were tolerated as long as they were taking place for a short period, between people that were already set to marry in the near future anyway. The terms themselves imply that they refer to young people, boys and girls, not people in their late 20s or older. It’s ludicrous when middle-aged spinsters refer to their transient sex partners as “boyfriends”. No, they are old men or gigolos.

  2. ballista74

    A Proper Framework for Marriage

    So as the historical and Biblical process the following:
    1. The man announces his intention to court to marry a woman to her father and family.
    2. The man or the man’s family works out conditions with the woman’s family to affect the marriage. Permission is obtained from the woman’s father and optionally the man’s parents.
    3. Upon agreement, the expression of marriage is made before witnesses.
    4. Culturally, after a short period of time, a public celebration is made where the agreement and consent to it is made public. The couple calls themselves husband and wife, and the public acknowledges them as such.
    5. Thereafter, the couple goes to the marriage bedchambers (the bridegroom’s house) in consummation of the marriage (i.e. the honeymoon).

  3. ballista74

    Dalrock has a few posts on this too:

    The boyfriend invention (perhaps most applicable to the original post on peacefulsinglegirl)

  4. I tried to explain the concept of dating and courting more than one person at a time to my friend, but she just didn’t get it. She kept on thinking of it as “cheating”, which it really isn’t if you don’t do any thing too physical or get too emotionally attached. This is why during the whole courting process her parent’s have to be involved because she could get emotionally attached to somebody who could end up not being her husband. (i.e. the LAMPS guy who may have more options than her). Surprisingly though, my dad told me about this method when I was younger. He was an advocate of this too.

  5. ballista74

    I put this over there on the PSG post as a comment (I also put a couple of links to Dalrock posts here but it got moderated):
    —–
    Saw that post: I would say that the use of the word “girlfriend” is the bad part in of itself. As written there:

    Truth is, the words “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” shouldn’t ever be used in a Christian context. They are connected to a system, “dating”, which embodies a lifestyle and mode of thought which are incompatible with Christian teaching and living. In addition, there is another, more practical
    reason why dating should be rejected: its notion of “Exclusivity.”

    If anything, the idea of dating in and of itself is non-Christian. If one were to look at it honestly, people have created a whole new system up through and including marriage itself, outside of God’s will, which allows women/wives to get out of committing themselves to men/husbands in
    any way. Is it any wonder marriage has collapsed with the one-sided commitment that men are supposed to make into marriage while women are held accountable to nothing or no one to be able to feed their basest instincts (in donal and mine’s usual circles, it’s called hypergamy, which is a component of female sin nature)?

    Dating is a historical and Scriptural aberration, which God doesn’t honor and for good reason.

    In God’s economy there is only one thing: Marriage. All these substitutes devised to enable women to keep from commi3ing to men in marriage are an abomination to Him.

    In that sense, do not ask for a girlfriend, ask for a wife. And do not ask for a boyfriend, ask for a husband.

  6. @lovelyleblanc7: Yes, dating creates this concept and problem of ’emotional cheating’ that ironically leads to suboptimal results in the long run.

    I was in a situation recently where an attractive and sensible girl (though with a current full-time ‘boyfriend’) expressed strong interest in me, in plausibly deniable fashion of course. (But trust me that it was painfully obvious….) I was left with a load of guilt about the fact that I had fomented an ’emotional affair’ with a girl that I wasn’t prepared or able to seriously pursue, and no real sense of how to proceed beyond distancing myself from her.

    In the courtship model you describe, the ‘boyfriend’ and I would be two competing suitors, and it would come down to a test of resolve in the sense of figuring out which one of us was ready to seriously commit. So we could both court her without a sense of ‘doing one another wrong’.

    In the ‘dating’ model, I could try to steal her away, but in the framework of basic moral principle, it would reflect badly on me, and on her. It’s something that’s plausible and even easy to do from the cad’s set of values, and that’s transparently hypocritical from the point of view of someone willing to offer marital commitment, and demanding the same in return.

    So basically, I found myself in a situation where the current societal structure gave me no way to channel my own feelings on the matter in a constructive direction, so I had to discard them entirely.

  7. Bryce Laliberte

    Your system places far too much control in the hands of the girl. If anything, it should be the parents deciding that a girl is ready for marriage. The ensuing process needn’t be entirely arranged, but the final say should be left to the parents, especially the father, as they will make wiser decisions regarding their familial legacy. It gives space for a woman to vet attraction to a man, and as this system contextualizes just about any man (since he needn’t focus on “wooing” the lady, which is the Achilles heel of betas, it effectively inoculates him against himself) as alpha since the people who actually need to be wooed are the parents. This system would require far fewer resources and also produce much more stable intersexual relations i.e. gender roles in society.

    As it is, such a system is impractical given our current conditions. A Christian man holding out his hopes on finding parents able (i.e. not divorced) and willing to arrange such courtship arrangements for their daughter will probably never find any. As you’ve mentioned before, all the old networks are gone. When I became Catholic, any real sense of Catholic community was frightfully absent. I imagine this is the same for nearly all parishes. Best to try my luck at a super-traddie parish that does Latin Mass.

    Unable to optimize, the best solution seems a kind of compromise which still concedes an irresponsible amount of agency to the woman. The man should know Game and be intent on finding a compatible (i.e. Christian, mature) girl and immediately begin dating her all while making clear, within the first few weeks, that he’s not interested in frivolities (e.g. “wasting time” which I’ll come back to) but in a serious marital relationship in which both of them can grow spiritually and emotionally. If she won’t go through with that, then he should be able to determine that within a month; more costly than the semi-arranged process above, but less costly than the protracted “modern dating” scene.

    As to “wasting time,” this assumes the purpose is ultimately to find a worthwhile lifelong partner. I agree with this purpose, but it is the case that many individuals really do prefer to extend the frivolities. The “cock carousel” is participated in by most women through sequential exclusive relationships, rather than a battery of one night stands. “Wasting time” is the purpose, for if it were otherwise she wouldn’t end up wasting time on these men but would signal her intent on finding a compatible partner and pursue those in a setting where those may be found. But she doesn’t put herself out there to be found, she chooses to date. (This is also the importance of the father taking responsibility for who his daughter sees under my system.)

    All in all, I think you can say it: young Christian men who might otherwise desire to be married early and actually get on with living are stuck with a system optimized for nihilists. I’m sure some Christian girls who read your blog will protest and insist that you’re right, but all too frequently a girl wears her “Christianity” as a badge to defer judgment for partaking of exactly this lifestyle. I doubt you’ve received any signals from girls that they are both open and intent on marriage, either, and if there is any guy who is most obviously open to skipping the laborious dating process, it’s you. (You even have a dedicated core of female commenters!)

  8. The biggest problem with dating is that most of the people dating aren’t looking for marriage, at least not in the near future. So you find someone who gets your motor running, and if the feeling is mutual, you start dating, and if it goes well you become exclusive. At this point, you’re basically what we used to call “engaged,” except that you’re not because you haven’t even talked about marriage yet. So it takes the engagement period and stretches it out for as long as several years, because all the marriage discernment that should have taken place beforehand has to be done now, and one or both people may not actually have any desire to marry at all. So now instead of trying to get through a 6-month period of exclusivity and intimate time alone without violating chastity, that is stretched to an impossible, open-ended number of years, which is why everyone’s basically given up on the idea of premarital chastity. It’s one thing to be chaste when you’re fairly certain that the payoff is a few months away; it’s another when the payoff isn’t even on the calendar yet.

    I once heard a Catholic priest give a sermon where he said that before you start dating (or better, courting), you should already have discerned that your vocation is marriage and that you’re ready to marry within the next year. And you shouldn’t marry until you’re ready to have children as soon as several months after the wedding. So you shouldn’t even be calling on a girl (or being called on, for the girls) unless you’re prepared to be changing diapers in a year or two. If that prospect seems daunting, you’re not ready.

    I think that traditional way of doing it seems too scary to people because it shortens the time-frame so much, and we’ve fallen for this idea (even though statistics don’t support it) that the more time you spend getting to know someone, the higher your chance of a successful marriage. Most people would freak out if you suggested that 3 months of calling on a girl, 3 months of courtship, and a 3-6 month engagement was plenty. How can you possibly know whether you’re right for each other in one year? Well, if you both come into it with your ducks in a row, and you share the same understanding of marriage and commitment to the vows involved, there really isn’t that much you have to learn about each other. A few months is plenty then.

  9. Some people even used to have “coming out” parties, which basically announced to the community that a girl was ready to be courted for marriage. So an interested boy knew that she was marriage-minded, wasn’t still considering religious life or something like that, and any “dating” she did would be for the purpose of finding a husband. Seems like a pretty sweet setup.

  10. What you are prescribing in your post is similar to what my husband and I practiced for our marriage. My parents actually were divorced at the time and not part of my church, so an elder and his wife actually filled in that role as a covering for me to deal with interest from young men. The early calling phase happened over about a year period as we made acquaintance in group settings. The courtship and engagement were both short (a period of months each) before our wedding. It absolutely can be done, even for people who don’t have the help of parental oversight, if pastors/priests can fulfill the role of spiritual father. I also know many other couples in many arrangements of life (some with parents in church, some not, and some older adults) who have also done this successfully.

  11. Bee

    Dating encourages serial monogamy and procrastination. Courtship promotes one-itis. Your take on courtship is good because it discourages the one-itis component.

    I grew up in churches which encouraged and promoted dating. I dated for several years and then I switched church. My new church was a courtship only church. I courted two girls from that church. The first turned me down as we began to move towards marriage. She told one of the church leaders, “I was too nice”. Wow, that was very confusing for me. The second girl ended up marrying me 20 years ago and we are still happily married.

    I recommend adding Step 0, all young Christian guys and girls seek the Lord and determine if they have the gift of celibacy. If they do not have the gift of celibacy they focus on getting married and raising lots of children in the church.

    Courtship, dating, arranged marriages all lack the red pill. Whatever system, or hybrid system, a young man follows he needs to know how to build and keep attraction thru masculinity, dominance, self-control, leadership, confidence, etc. Sad to say, I have never gone to a church that taught these things to men.

    The first girl I courted turned me down because I was all beta and all pedestalizing – I was too much of churchian nice guy.

  12. Also, during the calling and even the courting phase, I had two other interested parties and so did my husband. We both talked with these other interests (he with his and me with mine), got to know them a bit, but ultimately the spark was between the two of us. I think Lovelyleblanc7 describes it perfectly in that you just don’t get too involved with any suitors emotionally or physically until there is an understanding between you. You just keep it light and get to know one another.

  13. Thanks for your comments everyone. I will try and respond to them when I get a chance.

  14. My largest question and concern is what you propose for a man who has moved around as much as I have (moved every 1-3 years after college) and about half the women I meet are the same. Most are from a smaller town/city than they currently live, or from halfway across the country as they moved for college and never went back (or are still in school).

    I agree that the family ideas are key and important. But how does a modern Catholic involve the family when the family isn’t there to get involved? Phone conversations? Facebook? Chatting? Expensive trips early in the courtship process?

    To me, this part of the whole thing is the daunting part. I can handle the short time frame – I’m used to fast changes when the choice is right.

  15. Ok, I can address folks in detail now.

    @ Ballista

    Thanks for the insight and comments, as always. The old model of arranging marriages in OT times certainly has merit as a source of inspiration, but I don’t advocate a return to it. For one, it was the product of culture and tradition back then, not exactly divine command. The key is to find those best aspects of it and integrate them into a new model geared towards ends we value.

    @ SSM

    Thanks for the link.

    @ Lovely

    Yeah, this would confuse most people, I think. Which is why I felt compelled to argue it. And parental involvement is key.

    @ Arakawa

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience. Part of me thinks that the current paradigm exists in part to serve the female imperative, specifically the “You and Him Fight” mentality. Under the model I propose, matters could have been handled in an amicable “May the best Man win” manner. Not so now, and again, I wonder if a desire for conflict (as a fitness test) is the reason why.

    @ Bryce

    Yeah, I should have made clear that the parents would have to give their say-so first before the woman could accept Callers.

    As for time wasting, it was directed at those who believe that the problem with dating is that it isn’t chaste. As far as I am concerned “chaste dating” is still an awful thing.

    And I agree that this is all theoretical at this point, sadly.

    @ Cail

    Interesting story about that Catholic priest. He meant well, but trying to fit any semblance of Christian teaching into the dating system is doomed to fail.

    As for the time component, I think that the argument that you need time to really discern if someone is right for you as a spouse is crap. Or rather, that you need a long duration “courtship”. Its not the duration between stop and finish that matters, it is the amount of time actually invested in the process. If you spend a lot of time each week actually vetting a potential spouse, you can accomplish more in 3 months of courtship than you can in 12 months of dating.

    Yeah, coming out parties should be part of the process. Once the family has decided that a young woman is ready for marriage, they should host one, and invite those young men they feel most suitable as a future son-in-law.

    @ Bee

    Well, as far as I am concerned the Red Pill should actually be taught as part of a church ministry for young men and women (separate groups, btw).

    @ Amanda

    Thanks for your personal stories and thoughts. Something that could be done is to set up a surrogate system within the Church as well, with respected members of the Church community acting to take the role of parents in the process.

  16. @ Leap

    For Catholics the possibilities would be better than Protestants, because the organization of the Church should lend itself to the creation of a national network of sorts to help with this process.

    However, there will still be difficulties for converts and those who move around a lot. I won’t deny that. That was a first draft attempt, more thought is required to find something more workable.

  17. “The old model of arranging marriages in OT times certainly has merit as a source of inspiration, but I don’t advocate a return to it. For one, it was the product of culture and tradition back then, not exactly divine command. The key is to find those best aspects of it and integrate them into a new model geared towards ends we value.”

    In terms of arranged marriage, I can imagine two families suggesting a match, but not insisting on it; leaving it to the young people in question to decide whether they are ready to take on the responsibility of a marriage, and whether or not they are right for one another. (Depending on the age when this is done, it might not occur to the young people that their parents would already _support_ a suitable marriage; this approach might therefore result in matches that would not occur on their own.)

    “Part of me thinks that the current paradigm exists in part to serve the female imperative, specifically the “You and Him Fight” mentality. Under the model I propose, matters could have been handled in an amicable “May the best Man win” manner.”

    Right, exactly. As such, it would still be sleazy and underhanded for me to stir up trouble in someone else’s relationship, even if the relationship in question (‘committed boyfriend/girlfriend’) itself falls short of a reasonable standard of conduct.

    I think the difference between dating and courtship comes down to the fact that the script for dating focuses on escalating intimacy *without* the context of an explicit decision to do so / commitments that would correspond to that level of intimacy. The relationship is supposed to ‘just happen’, though of course it’s more a matter of engineering the series of circumstances in which it happens, i.e. it ‘happens’ through a seduction.

    This idea is drilled into people via movies, popular culture, such that this seems the ‘only’ way for people to ‘fall in love’ (to the extent that I’ve had it specifically told to me by girls that love is something that is _supposed_ to ‘just happen’ in a kind of ‘madness’), even though the whole thing has far more to do with Robert Greene’s ‘Rules of Seduction’ than any historical norm for starting a family. The glaring weakness is that the ‘relationship’ that results from a seduction is totally ambiguous; this ambiguity makes building a life together, having children, impossible until things are clarified, since at no point has the couple explicitly agreed that they will support one another.

    (There’s a joke on xkcd somewhere that nails this contradiction of committed-ambiguity, where a boy proposes to his girlfriend by asking “Will you be my ‘it’s complicated’ on Facebook?”

    http://xkcd.com/355/)

    Thus whoever wants to turn ‘dating’ into marriage, finds him/herself in the ludicrous position of having to initiate a courtship with a person they’re already in a sexual relationship in.

    This is probably why ‘chaste dating’ is such a red herring. Since the whole dating script is a seduction, and the primary dimension of a long-term seduction centres on producing emotional dependence rather than sexual intimacy; subtracting the sexual component changes none of this. Indeed, creating an expectation of intimacy and then holding back, can be as much of a tool to create emotional dependence, as escalating to an unwarranted level of intimacy.

    And, just to make it clear, it’s not emotional dependence that’s bad (‘falling in love’ is a matter of mutual emotional dependence), it’s the script that tries to create emotional dependence outside of the context of commitments that ensure neither the guy nor the girl can use it to take advantage of the other.

  18. @ Donal
    Yeah, I’ve definitely made my search for a wife several degrees more difficult with the choices I’ve made in life. I’ll find a way to overcome. I was also curious because even with Catholic women I find probably about 1/3 of them have moved away from their family, which is a sizable portion to have to work around getting to know their family as this strategy would need.

  19. Random Angeleno

    Seem to recall that as late as the 50’s, it was common for young marriageable women to accept courtship gestures from several different men right up to the day she accepted a marriage proposal (usually accompanied by an engagement ring) from one of them. I’m assuming of course those times were far more chaste than now. There wasn’t that sense of “exclusivity” like there is now. Not much said about parental involvement so I can just hear it now, “let’s you and him fight!”

  20. As for the time component, I think that the argument that you need time to really discern if someone is right for you as a spouse is crap. Or rather, that you need a long duration “courtship”. Its not the duration between stop and finish that matters,

    What about the (mostly Catholic) push for young Christians to “discern their vocation” before pursuing a courtship? (*I have nothing against encouraging young Christians to pursue religious vocations – it’s just lately deliberating one’s religious vocation thoroughly is viewed as more important than the pursuit of marriage….)

    When I was still a Catholic the #2 argument against my engagement by fellow Catholics (#1 being my husband’s Protestant faith) was that I hadn’t adequately discerned my vocation. It took me a long time to realize “discern your vocation” was doublespeak for “you’re too young”. I attended one pre-cana class with my husband before leaving the church for good – we were the youngest couple in the room; everyone else was in their mid 30’s to early 40’s. Is that how long it takes to decide you don’t want to attend seminary?

  21. CaseyAnn

    Via Anarcho-Papist:

    “A Christian man holding out his hopes on finding parents able (i.e. not divorced) and willing to arrange such courtship arrangements for their daughter will probably never find any. As you’ve mentioned before, all the old networks are gone. When I became Catholic, any real sense of Catholic community was frightfully absent.”

    Yes, this. I’m still trying to figure out this problematic situation.

  22. I think that discerning a vocation before pursuing courtship is a good idea BF. However, that discernment should be happening in one’s early to mid teens, not as an adult. Honestly, and trying to keep my language cleaner this time, I think that the way the process is handled is garbage. Marriage is the normal vocation for the overwhelming majority of men and women in the Church. It should be the default position, to be honest. Only if something else comes along that makes you question it should you think about moving to another vocation.

    Nor do I think that it takes nearly as much time and effort as seems expected. Unless there is something which tells you that you don’t want to be a wife/husband or a mother/father, vocations to the celibate religious life should be alternate paths.

  23. Yes, this. I’m still trying to figure out this problematic situation.

    That’s the problem with my ideas. They require time, effort and resources to set in place, and that doesn’t help those of us who want to get married now while the current system is still in place.

  24. I assume the church emphasizes “deliberating one’s vocation” now more than ever, due to the dwindling supply of clergy. I realize its a serious issue but there must be a better way to go about it. I agree with you, one should deliberate their vocation much earlier than their adult years – marriage should be the default vocation.

    Despite realizing I’d never want to be a nun around the age of seven (the nun at my parochial school wore heavy polyester habits that looked terribly uncomfortable) while engaged it felt like I was sinful for pursuing marriage before pursuing God (illogical guilt, how Catholic of me 😉 )

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  26. @donal

    An excellent though-provoking post, as always. I’ve never really thought about this even though I’ve always had the vague impression that dating several people at the same time was not right, somehow (probably because it’s not often done where I come from), and that the old courting system was the best there could possibly be. I’ve never thought that a steady boyfriend/girlfriend was a bad thing, however, and this post was really eye-opening. Thank you, as usual!

    @ Butterfly Flower,

    that’s an interesting experience. I’m Catholic, as well, but European. In my experience the Catholic Church does urge parents to be open to their children pursuing religious vocations and actively encourage them to do so. Young adults, on the other hand, are encouraged to opt for married life. This is not particularly aggressive (maybe it should be a bit more), but never are they encouraged to think on it for a few more years and put off marriage. As if it is expected people would find out they are called to religious vocations by their mid- or late-teens.

  27. “That’s the problem with my ideas. They require time, effort and resources to set in place, and that doesn’t help those of us who want to get married now while the current system is still in place.”

    I don’t think that courtship will happen in our generation. It has, HAS to be something a child is raised into, as it affects nearly every decision, molds personality traits, and funnels sexual energy.

    As I navigate the current system, I’ll be pondering how any children of my own would be raised more in line with courtship rituals, no matter if they’re a society, a Catholic, or not enacted at all on any level. What concessions can you make to elements beyond your control while still retaining the core values?

  28. an observer

    Dating is a creation of the feminine imperative. Women have all the smp power at a young age. Instead of using their attractiveness to acquire a mate, they use it as a source of emotional affirmation.

    When that well begins to run dry, the wall is fast approaching and she ‘gets serious’. We know that usually ends, with an ‘i’m unhappy’ divorce and a misguided epl experience.

    Women in this context will not be happy with courtship as it limits their options for wideranging affirmation, often sexually, from a variety of high value men. These high value men are part ofnthe small percentage of men that benefit from ‘dating’.

    The average man has little to gain and much to lose from dating. He must continually qualify himself, or risk being gazumped in the smp.

    The churches support the chimera of ‘committed dating’ as it maintains the appearance of good intentions, whilst reinforcing female power.

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  30. Pingback: Why Christian Men Choose Not to Get Laid Before Marriage | The Reinvention of Man

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