Any thoughts on what the difference is or if there is a difference between dating and courtship? 

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Yes, if only because those who use the term "courtship" almost invariably seek to differentiate it from what they consider to be "dating".

In our culture, courtship is a form of dating that is able to function only within certain subcultures.  It presumes certain family structures and relationships that are absent from the lives of many who participate in the broader culture of dating.

To me, the main difference is that courtship is a subset of dating - specifically dating with the intent of deciding whether or not to marry a specific lady.  Although I can see arguments for including dating after an engagement as well.

So maybe something like, courtship is dating with marriage intent? 

I think that's part of it, but from what I have seen proponents of courtship emphasize family involvement (in particular the father's permission) at least as much as they do marriage intent. 

If you have to ask the fathers permission to date then you are too young to marry. 

It is as simple as that.

Dating to just enjoy a good day/ evening with some one is how you find someone you want to settle down with.  I did not realize I want to marry my wife until I realized I was moving across the country and if I expected her to join me she needed to have a ring to provide her the assurance to join me.  After nine years of marriage we are still best friends and happy we married.

Not in the subcultures (mostly evangelical Christian, at least in the States) where courtship has become popular.  The prospective couple can be well into their twenties and still need to proceed with the family's (specifically the father's) approval.

Thanks for pointing that out. I do not come from this subculture and am always curious how others live and how they see life.

At what point in these subcultures are (evangelical christian) are children considered adults?

Is fathers approval required for the male as well as the female children to be courted?


If I remember Harris' book correctly, it's just the woman's father who needs to give permission. In Harris' mind, it's about the man showing the maturity to be thinking and acting independently, and there being a double protection for the woman - first the man asking should have her best interests at heart, and her father. (except for the practicalities, this attitude wasn't part of my main problem with the books)

Bear in mind that this practice is confined to a subset of evangelical Christians, so it's only practiced by a faction of a fraction.

While I don't keep close tabs on developments within the courtship movement (for lack of a better term) I think it has proven to be something of a fad because of its impracticality for many people.  It is much more feasible if young women live with their parents as part of a close-knit family and if the young man is part of the same community.  But it breaks down when distance and family trouble are introduced (as in, it becomes difficult or impossible, instead of simply rejected by a young couple).

I'm from that subculture, and I've never heard of anyone old enough to live on his/her own needing parental permission to date.  Advice, yes, and I have the impression that millennials are way more likely to listen to such advice than Gen X'ers.

Rev. Harris did talk to the eventual Mrs. Harris' father before they started courting. The father was 2,000 miles away from his daughter, and not a Christian. I don't know how many couples followed Harris' advice/example. The examples I remember from "Boy Meets Girl" (which was published several years after "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," so was able to include anecdotes of people who took to hear the first book) and press about the books were of younger couples.

Maybe some of my Catholic college friends got fathers' permission to start dating, at college age.

Thanks for the perspective.  Personally I asked for permission to marry but not to date, so that idea surprised me.

I believe that in the modern age "courtship" is just a 10 dollar word for dating. I suppose you could stretch it a bit and say that courtship would be dating the girlfriend vs that period where you two are dating but not necessarily to the point where you have established that the two of you are exclusively dating each other.


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