The word ‘dating’ is often used interchangeably with courtship, but do they actually mean the same thing?
What is courtship?
Courtship may be defined as:
-A relationship between a man and woman in which they seek to determine if it is Gods will for them to marry each other.
-A period in a couple’s relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage.
-A period which a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement.
What is dating?
Dating may be defined as:
-A relationship between two individuals with the aim of assessing the others suitability as a partner or in an intimate relationship or as a spouse.
‘’Hanging out consistently’’
‘’Getting to know each other’’
‘’Exclusive’’…. ‘’Not exclusive’’
-The stage before a committed relationship
As a Christian do I court or date?
The reality is courtship and dating mean different things to different people. The most important thing is that you and the person that you are courting or dating are on the same page. Personally, I don’t think it matters what you call it. What you call something does not define what it is.
However, it is important to ensure that you are both on the same page in terms of exclusivity and intention. People often get their wires crossed and think they are in something ‘serious’, meanwhile the other person is seeing other people. Or one person is hearing wedding bells while the other person has no intention of ever getting married.
Establishing these things early on in the relationship saves time, pain and heartbreak.
Time is precious so there is no point being in a situation that is not for you.
Guarding our hearts is key in whatever relationship we find ourselves in.
‘’Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.’’
Sometimes we are too quick to dish out our life stories to each other. You have known someone for two weeks yet they know things about you that no one else does. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you meet people that you develop a quick connection with. However, we need to put some emotional boundaries in place because the more you share, the more vulnerable you become.
And yes, you want to get to a stage in your relationship where you can be emotionally vulnerable with your other half. But you do not want to develop this vulnerability too prematurely…even before you have built trust.
Often we are too hasty. The purpose of the courting/dating phase is to get know each other. There is no rush. This is the fun part hanging out and assessing each other’s characteristics and we miss it a lot of the time because we want to be married. We have to use this period of time wisely because we won’t get it back. Once you are married that is it…
Aside from emotional boundaries it is important that we establish physical boundaries. Let’s be real, you are going to be attracted to the other person. So it is important that you establish these boundaries early on. It is also essential that you are both on the same page with these boundaries or you may run into problems…
Scripture tells us to:
‘’Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.’’
1 Corinthians 6:18
This is something to bear in mind when setting boundaries. It may be necessary to avoid places that could get you into a situation. We often feel that, ‘‘we are strong’’, and that ‘’ we have self-control’’. But on the flip side… ‘’ I don’t know what happened’’ … ‘’ it just happened.’’
Another important thing to remember is that no two couples are the same. Each couple is unique and will face different challenges. It is good to seek council from others (parents/mentors/friends). But don’t get consumed by what others say because it may not always be applicable to your relationship.
Above all there are no fixed set of instructions on how to court or date but we can always ask God for guidance. Some people may feel God doesn’t care about things like this. But God cares about every single part of your life. Choosing a life partner is a huge part of our lives so we should not take it lightly and ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance each and every step of the way.
‘’If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.’’ (James 1:5)
Written by the beautiful Bernie xx