Eight Not-So-Simple Rules . . .

March 23, 2005 | 44 comments
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Thought LDS dating rules were draconian? ‘Courtship‘ is the trendy new (old) thing among Christian fundamentalists. Here are the basics:

(1) No dating.
(2) No dating-type-activities.
(3) Courting involves only marriagable man (i.e., financially capable of supporting a family).
(4) When a man is interested in a woman, he contacts her father.
(5) There are interviews of the man by the woman’s father.
(6) The courtship-ees then spend time together along with their families.
(7) Only late in the process do they talk alone together.
(8) Some will kiss once when they are engaged, some will have no physical contact until after they are wed.

So: Would LDS youth be better off ‘courting’ than dating? I think the answer is ‘generally, yes’. I have seen a few couples push the boundaries of physical affection more than they should. I have seen (and I have been) a starry-eyed young woman ready to marry for all the wrong reasons to a young man who would have never gotten out alive from an interview with my father. Probably the only element of courting that would need to be tweaked for the Saints is that we don’t expect a man to be able to support a family before he weds.

Anyone want to talk me down? Are there any advantages to dating that would be lost by courting?

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44 Responses to Eight Not-So-Simple Rules . . .

  1. [...] or your daughter’s hand. Nice pajamas.”

    by Nate Oman

    Julie’s post on courting brings up an interesting question that I have, thankfull [...]

  2. Kaimi on March 23, 2005 at 6:24 pm

    Julie,

    There are probable complications. I think that I would have done reasonably well in an interview with my wife’s father. On the other hand, a good friend is the daughter of a bipolar schizophrenic. If her married life depended on an interview with her father, I shudder to contemplate the results. Another friend’s father was a cultural throwback in ways that probably aren’t good — women in his family weren’t allowed to drive cars and were discouraged from going to college. His independent-minded daughter fell in love with a non-white returned missionary, and there was much hand-wringing and opposition from the family. The day she turned 18, she married him — sans family support. Today they’ve got a great marriage and beautiful kids and are doing very well. Thank goodness her marriage prospects didn’t depend on her father’s strange ideas.

    Also, isn’t there a huge problem with the “no talking alone until after you’re engaged”? Umm, how do you know that you’re interested in a woman, then? “Pick someone you’re interested in, tell her dad, get engaged, and _then_ you can talk to her” sounds like a recipe for disaster. How on Earth will the guy decide he’s interested in a woman? Solely because she’s got a nice figure? And you think that this is a _good_ idea?

  3. Jordan Fowles on March 23, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    One big problem I already see- nobody would be able to use the creative dating techniques we all love so much, like hiding messages in oreo cookies…

  4. Shawn Bailey on March 23, 2005 at 6:37 pm

    As a single man a few years ago, I would have hated, hated, hated the “courtship” idea. Declaring one’s interest in a woman directly to a potential father-in-law: bad. Formal interviews with potential father-in-laws: very bad. Marrying a woman without having spent significant time with her alone, away from family, and yes, even kissing for part of that time: very very bad. The whole thing gives families and particularly the woman’s father too much power. Despite all its draw-backs, the current setup permits a man and a woman to structure their relationship, learn about each other, and make decisions together without any outside interference. Perhaps couples that can’t handle that kind of cooperation as couple/ autonomy from the rest of the world aren’t ready for the big leagues.

    As a father of a daughter however, I guess I could get used to the courtship idea.

  5. Carleh on March 23, 2005 at 6:49 pm

    Just waiting for all the feminists to kick in . . .
    It is absolutely abhorent to me that a man would choose to marry a woman without any kind of recommendation beyond peripheral observation. Gross!! Besides, I’m much more discriminating about my men than my father would be (this could be an indication of fault on my part). I would trust my mother more, I think, but neither of them implicitly. The more I think about it, the more I detest the idea of a woman waiting around for prospective suitors without any power to influence her fate beyond saying yes or no at the very end. I would rather employ Thomas More’s ideas outlined in Utopia. You can see them at this site: http://4umi.com/more/utopia/8.htm

  6. Jonathan Max Wilson on March 23, 2005 at 6:58 pm

    I think that it would have to include an indivdual interview with the mother as well as the father.

    I would never have passed an interview with my father-in-law, though at the time I might have passed it with my mother-in-law. Nethier would pass me now. (I’m serious)

  7. Jordan Fowles on March 23, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    I had an interview with my future father-in-law prior to popping the question. He and I were both moved to tears- it was a wonderfully spiritual experience.

  8. Jordan Fowles on March 23, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    ADD- but not one that I think should be required by any means.

  9. Mark B. on March 23, 2005 at 7:10 pm

    I had a long and interesting conversation with my future son-in-law shortly after my lovely daughter announced she (at 19) was planning to marry him. I think that the talk was useful, the minor faux pas that both of us committed have long since been forgotten (or are remembered with a chuckle) and we have a good relationship. And, so far as I can tell, my daughter and he are happy six years into their marriage.

    I haven’t felt the same inclination to talk at length to the young lady my son is to marry next month. Maybe part is that he is 27 and she’s about the same. Another is that I have met her–the future son-in-law was announced over the telephone, otherwise sight unseen. And maybe it’s just plain old patriarchal sexism. So shoot me!

  10. annegb on March 23, 2005 at 7:11 pm

    I am totally in favor of these rules, I would add, the parents should pick the boy. Says a mom whose daughter is dating and getting ready to marry a nice enough boy, although not my first choice. What a nerve wracking experience this has been. I’m with the Amish.

  11. greenfrog on March 23, 2005 at 7:11 pm

    I can think of little to recommend such a practice.

    It implies an unusual level of on-going parental (actually, patriarchal, as the mother seems absent in this model) control over the lives of presumably otherwise emancipated, adults. I don’t see much feasible in such an arrangement if it were limited solely to courtship and marriage. And I don’t see much propriety in vesting greater parental/patriarchal controls over otherwise emancipated adults’ lives. (Where to work? How to vote? What to say?)

    It appears to down-play nearly entirely the interests of the potential wife, who is apparently not permitted to approach the mother of a potential husband to express her interest in courting him.

    I vote no (as though my children would give me a vote on such a matter).

  12. Julie in Austin on March 23, 2005 at 7:25 pm

    OK, obviously there’s gender issues here. But what if we took them all out and gave father and mother equal authority and required interviews all around? Then what do we think?

    Note to Kaimi and others: I think the idea is that they’ve spent time together in other situations (i.e., Church groups, homeschool (usually) coops, etc., etc.) and have an emotional basis for the attachment before the courtship part kicks in.

  13. Ben H on March 23, 2005 at 7:30 pm

    I think in general parents ought to be much more involved in the lives of their “adult” (over eighteen) children, and could help inject some sanity into dating as they could with lots of other aspects of life. But . . .

    um, what if your parents are in another state? I think the “going away to college” thing is overrated and overdone, but you’re talking about pretty much doing away with BYU as we know it. It wouldn’t exist, or anyway all the students would come from Utah, which largely defeats the purpose.

    Or, if we seriously want only men with a real income to court, you can keep BYU (if anyone is willing to delay marriage long enough to get an education, that is), but you’re ditching most of the modern economy as we know it. A lot has changed from a practical standpoint since the time when these courting rules were the norm. And were they ever the norm outside some kind of aristocracy? I think these rules are an interesting reference point, but would have to be heavily modified to fit the practicalities of modern economic life.

    I think the problems these rules would be designed to correct, though, start much earlier than courting nowadays.

  14. Ben H on March 23, 2005 at 7:44 pm

    I think the idea is that they’ve spent time together in other situations (i.e., Church groups, homeschool (usually) coops, etc., etc.) and have an emotional basis for the attachment before the courtship part kicks in.

    This is a great idea, but who gets to know anyone at school anymore, except people who are homeschooled? Schools are huge, classrooms are huge, and students hardly interact with each other. They are supposed to sit and listen to the teacher, then go home and do their homework. There are exceptions, but how do you actually get to know anyone anymore if you don’t pick particular people to organize your own activities with? Workplaces may be a little bit better, but there are other problems with planning on getting to know a future spouse at work.

    I should acknowledge I have lived almost the most averse possible life to success on this model of courting. I have moved a thousand miles or more every few years, and mostly lived away from my parents since my sophomore year in high school. This is not ideal, but also not so uncommon.

    Are you going to recommend that men usually marry a woman five years or more younger, or what is the effect of pushing men’s eligibility back until they can support her, in a world where a college degree is required for so much employment, and often graduate degrees?

    Do you mean to be recommending a massive re-engineering of society? If so, I’m for it, but let’s be frank about what we’re dealing with here.

  15. danithew on March 23, 2005 at 7:50 pm

    Years ago I let my mother set me up on a date or two and then realized I had created a monster. Every semi-cute-returned-missionary girl she could find became a potential date. She even tried to set me up with a girl who worked behind a Harmons deli. So I told her (my Mom) that the best way to guarantee that I would never date a girl was for her to introduce me to her.

    Our system has a lot of problems but there’s no way I’d support marriage arrangements or want parents to have such a close uptight role in the decision-making. Trust me, if kids want to mess around, this kind of system isn’t going to stop them anyway.

    Of course if my wife and I ever have a daughter my opinion on this could change completely. At that point I’ll be buying overalls and a shotgun, affect a southern drawl and begin talking about how “I dont mind going to prison again.”

  16. NFlanders on March 23, 2005 at 8:00 pm

    Is it April 1st already?
    I assume the father’s interview will be when the number of cows is settled on.

  17. Katie on March 23, 2005 at 8:16 pm

    When I was in high school five years ago the ideas of courtship, and its non-kissing cousin, “pure dating” were all the rage. (Pure dating does not necessary follow the rules of courtship but does not allow kissing until marriage). This is granted because I went to high school in the bible belt and Christianity in general was all the rage. But this was certainly a hot topic and people were often discussing (more often then practicing I imagine) the idea. The book the hard-core fundamentalists were reading was Elizabeth Eliot’s “Passion and Purity.” However the more mainstream book that was causing conversation was Joshua Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.”

    Some of Harris’ ideas in the book are rather laughable. But he makes a variety of well founded points, Harris argues that dating can be silly, dysfunctional, and destructive. He advocates a plan a bit less strict than Julie’s. You should date until you are ready to marry (not necessarily until the man is financially ready, just until you are at an appropriate age and time in your life), when the time comes, you should find someone by hanging out in groups of friends and attending church and other activities. When someone catches your eye, you should continue hanging out in groups of people with them, getting to know their families, doing service together, ect. Then when things get more serious you should announce your intention to court the woman to her family, and then spend time alone and get engaged and then hitched, ect. Harris makes a couple of excellent points about why dating is not God’s plan for His children:

    It takes pieces of your heart: Ideally a couple getting married brings their whole heart to their spouse. However people who have been in other serious relationships, often give that person a piece of their heart . Instead of giving wholeness to their spouse they can only give something that has been fragmented. They have given away pieces of themselves to people they might not even talk to anymore. There is certainly truth to this, however it might rub people the wrong way. I have friends who are now marred, mostly happily, but who still think from time to time about that first love, or that guy they had such an intense relationship with. Even people from less serious relationships can pop into your head from time to time. So much for cleaving.

    It’s not particularly effective: When people first start dating they are one their best behavior. They also spend time typically by themselves, and only interact with each other. This honeymoon period lasts for months. So while two people think they are falling for each other, they are really falling for a phased, a image the person is projecting to woo the other. And by hanging out by themselves they are completely missing how the person interacts in real life situations. It creates a completely false atmosphere, Then, when the bubble bursts, the couple realize the aren’t as compatible as they thought, have a messy break up. They end up with hearts with scars and cynicism about relationships, making it harder to give their heart away to the next person.

    Nowadays it seems like dating is simply taken for granted as the only way to find a spouse. Sure there are messy heartbreaks, chastity slip ups, and people getting used and burned, but that’s what you have to go through right? To know who you want to marry? Dating only became the norm a few decades ago with the advent of the automobile. Are couples happier now that they go to chili’s and hold hands at the movies and make out in darkened apartments? It certainly doesn’t seem so.

    I’m not sure that courtship has to be strict as the plan Julie outlined but it certainly could be improved. The bottom line is that people need to be friends before they date. And then if things seem to line up, they should start something more serious. I am admittedly biased since I became friends with my fiancée first, dated him briefly before his mission, but then really got to know him through letter writing for two years. A beautiful friendship that blossomed into something much more. I wouldn’t have had it nay other way.

  18. Julie in Austin on March 23, 2005 at 8:23 pm

    Katie–

    Just to be clear, it isn’t ‘my’ plan; it was from the article in the link.

    ‘My’ plan is thus:

    (1) turn down grad school admission and move half-way across country to marry guy who turns out to be a real jerk
    (2) cancel wedding six weeks before event
    (3) meet decent guy. have little interest because you hate his gender and don’t trust your own judgment
    (4) get re-enrolled in grad school
    (5) decide you like decent guy, too bad you are moving in six weeks
    (6) spend every waking moment together
    (7) move to school while he goes to study abroad
    (8) email vociferously. Complete marriage compatibility test over email. Have extremely expensive phone calls.
    (9) get engaged at Christmas.
    (10) get married the next summer.
    (11) live happily ever after*

    *guarantee voided by introduction of offspring

  19. Ben H on March 23, 2005 at 8:28 pm

    Thanks, Katie, I agree with much of what you say. I just think that this little hiccup of the invention of the automobile has had a massive impact on how our society works, one that can’t be ignored and can’t be reversed (although further development may allow us to retrieve some of the good things about how life was before the automobile, in some new way, like telecommuting).

    But — You should date until you are ready to marry — are you saying people should date, just not to marry? Seems like a lot of the same problems will occur before marriage, tho the marriages when they come around will still be stronger.

  20. Katie on March 23, 2005 at 8:31 pm

    Oh I know it was not your plan Julie, I just meant the plan as you outlined for discussion. I didn’t mean to imply that you were advocating it or had lived it yourself.

    I like your actual plan, its seems like a good one. Maybe the online marriage compatibility test is the real answer to all our courtship woes.

  21. Katie on March 23, 2005 at 8:34 pm

    Sorry Ben, thanks for catching that. I meant “you should not date until you are ready to marry.” Dating without the chance of it ending in something substantial often does not end well.

  22. Keith on March 23, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    I don’t know about these paticular rules themselves, but I like one of the potential effects — the couple have to take their courtship with a degree of seriousness and deliberate consideration that they might not otherwise. Romance and flights of fancy may be exhilarating, but are potential disasters if they are the primary basis for marriage. This can show up, for instance, in the person who wants a revelation to tell them who he or she ought to marry, rather than considering seriously whether this is something they actually want, something they are actually willing to commit to, wether it’s a good/wise decision, etc.

    I was interested to note that Elder Bednar recently told the young adults in our area to quit going out on the large group non-dates, and actually start dating/courting more seriously. I guess it’s a matter of urging folks at a certain stage to use dating/courting for what they are intended: to lead to a good marriage.

  23. Shawn Bailey on March 23, 2005 at 9:28 pm

    The “courtship” system could be a source of romance too. Secret meetings outside the official system (which would normally be mere dates) might be particularly exciting to young people in love! Afterall, this is the stuff of love stories in good literature: stodgy patriarchs as gatekeepers to their daughter’s hearts, demanding that suitors cower before them so they can check class credentials. The system simply begs to be short-circuited by young lovers. Let the drama ensue!

  24. Kevin Barney on March 23, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    I personally think there should be complete reciprocity between boys and girls in dating mores. Women ought to have as much right to initiate anything as men do. (I know that Julie made this amendment already, I just wanted to emphasize the point.)

    I wouldn’t favor these rules. They could be almost totally debilitating to the shy. It’s tough enough asking a girl out for a date, but asking her father for an interview? A lot of people would never get married under this system.

    I personally do not think it is a virtue to have one’s first kiss over the altar, a la Joseph Fielding Smith. We Mormons are already at a disadvantage for determining sexual compatibility as it is. (Of course, I’m not suggesting we change the no sex outside of marriage standard!) But no making out with your fiance? No handhlding, no kissing, no arm around the shoulder? To have basically no physical contact at all until after marriage is a dangerous practice, I think, and has the potential to backfire badly.

    A strong marriage needs to have a healthy dose of mutual lust. To get married without any concept beyond visual approbation that you are physically a match is a recipe for divorce.

  25. Jonathan Green on March 24, 2005 at 12:03 am

    Count me as a ‘no’ vote. Each and every one of Rules 1-8 would have short-circuited my relationship with my wife before it had a chance to get started. My own marriage is, of couse, merely anecdotal evidence, but it is also the only fact that I actually care about in discussions of dating. I mostly support the general goals of courtship, but the proposed solution doesn’t seem justified.

    Maybe the courtship rules make more sense for relatively immature people in unsophisticated places, but my wife and I were already 24 when we got engaged, and in Provo.

  26. Milo on March 24, 2005 at 3:17 am

    A quick AMEN! to what Kevin Barney said. Sex is such an important part of marriage (according to me, but also to the Brethren) but you just have to hope that you are a match, and not find out until after it’s too late? Again, like Kevin, I’m not suggesting we change the no sex outside of marriage standard, just that a denial that attraction and physical affection and love are part of your marital relationship is a recipe for bad surprises.

  27. Bryce I on March 24, 2005 at 9:14 am

    I think that most of us are arguing not so much against the idea of courtship as we are against the idea that we would have found and married our current spouses under such a system. For those of us who are happily married, we can’t imagine wanting things to be any other way. However, if we had entered the spouse-searching process under a completely different set of assumptions than we did, I imagine we would not be disappointed in the results, speaking generally. That is, if we were raised to believe that courtship was the proper way to find a spouse, and we believed that, then it would probably be an effective methodology.

    Take arranged marriages. I don’t know too many Americans who look favorably upon such arrangements, but I know people from other cultures for whom arranged marriage is the norm who have wonderful, loving relationships with their spouses. If both husband and wife are committed to the process, whatever process that may be, chances are, they’ll be able to make the marriage successful. If one or both are dragged kicking and screaming to the altar, however, the prospects for happiness dim greatly.

  28. Elisabeth on March 24, 2005 at 9:54 am

    I think we should go back to arranged marriages for those who wish to marry young (under 30). Why trust giddy teenagers and people who are still finding their way in life with such a weighty decision?

    Unless an individual (man or woman) is financially stable enough to pay for his or her own car insurance and cell phone bill, not to mention have a developed sense of self and what he or she truly wants to do with his or her own life (and aren’t just hanging around surfing the Internet all day, or doing things because they are told to do them), then I think the parents should have ultimate veto power over the choice of a marriage partner.

  29. Laura O on March 24, 2005 at 10:14 am

    As a young single still stuck in the dating game, I like the idea of getting to know prospects’ families early on. As others have noted, the logistics don’t make sense unless women have to live at home until they’re married. (And even though I love my family: yuck.)

    I and other singles often talk about how we wish arranged marriages were back in vogue. . . but I don’t think we really mean it. Yes, it would be great to have my parents approve and even select serious prospects (what an ugly word–maybe “prey” would be better) but I can’t imagine giving up the privateness of dating. I don’t think I could muster the courage to commit to marriage unless I had been bound to the person through ties of (some degree of) physical and emotional intimacy.

    Of course, it’s easy to get trapped by those ties into a committment that isn’t the smartest. But I vote that the risk is worth it.

    It’s a great idea, though, to only date people who are ready for marriage. Otherwise it’s easy to fall in love and be stuck in a dead end relationship. Been there, done that. My parents would have screened out that one for me.

  30. Ben S. on March 24, 2005 at 10:19 am

    I’m not so much in favor of these courtship rules, as I miss (what I conceive of as) the good old days, where there were some formalities, some set cultural signs to indicate interest and counter-interest.
    Dating has no formalities like that.

  31. Pris on March 24, 2005 at 10:40 am

    What’s missing from this conversation is that we learn things–about who we are, what we want/need in a spouse, and how to function in a relationship–through dating. Moving to a courtship system would side-step all that, effectively throwing the baby out with the proverbial bathwater.

  32. Rosalynde Welch on March 24, 2005 at 10:47 am

    I think these rules could only result in long-term, successful marriages if divorce were virtually impossible to obtain. It seems to me that “courtship” marriages would have two people marrying who know very little about living independently, or about being alone together. This would result in an inevitable rocky period of disillusionment and adjustment early in the marriage, during which many couples, I think, would be tempted to separate. If divorce were impossible to obtain (as it generally is in cultures that support arranged marriages), it’s likely, I think, that the couple could move beyond this period and into a workable union. But in our current culture of marriage, as soluble as it has become, I think these rules would be disastrous.

  33. Laura O on March 24, 2005 at 10:52 am

    Ben (29):

    There are boatloads of dating formalities and signifiers–at least, there were when I was at BYU. Oh, the gradual migrating across the classroom to sit next to the beloved! Oh, the conversations via roommates! Oh, the baking of cookies!

    There’re still some biggies in singles wards: sitting next to someone in church more than twice signifies Serious Interest. Three dates on three successive weekends signifies Imminent Engagement.

  34. Paul Mortensen on March 24, 2005 at 11:19 am

    I think there’s a certain degree of age appropriateness associated with the rules. For a 16 year old daughter or son I think these rules are highly appropriate. However, as a young person matures into a responsible adult the rules can and should be relaxed. However, regardless of age I would still expect a prospective spouse to meet the family to make sure that they are compatible with the values we hold. I would also expect the prospective spouse as well as my child to counsel from me and my wife before committing to marriage. I have faith that my own children will follow this counsel for two reasons. First, my children know as parents we love them unconditionally and want for them nothing but bliss and happiness– and I think they trust us. Second, my children understand the power of the purse. While they know our love and affection are doled out unconditionally they are well aware that mommy and daddy invest their money wisely. They know that if we’re going to refuse to finance a college degree in some academic fluff subject like music, history, or English we’re sure as heck not going to invest in a marriage we’re not convinced will produce positive returns.

    Long ago my spouse and I decided that, while they were living in the home, each of our children’s first dates with a new individual would be a double date with us so we could interview the candidate and communicate to him/her the standards by which we expected them to behave while together (a real necessity given we live in a Blue state). Originally it was only going to be me accompanying them on the date but my wife cringed at the idea given that (in her words) I can be a bit of an intimidating presence a la Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents. My wife decided that she would need to be present as well to pick up the pieces of the shattered egos I would no doubt leave behind.

  35. Ben S. on March 24, 2005 at 11:31 am

    If there are formal signals, no one has communicated clearly exactly what they are to the men!!

  36. The Only True and Living Nathan on March 24, 2005 at 12:28 pm

    Paul, I like the double-date idea.

    ‘Course, I’ve been listening to the “Fiddler on the Roof” soundtrack lately, so…

    “And who must Mama teach
    To mend and tend and fix
    Preparing her to marry
    Whoever Papa picks?”

  37. chab on March 24, 2005 at 1:04 pm

    The rules are a short lapse away from an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages seem successful in other cultures, but these are wickedly patriarchal. We do not know how the wife feels, and she has little rights.

    These marriages seem to be similar to the FLDS system of mate selection.

    The divorce rate among fundamentalists is higher than the LDS rate. I do not know if this is related to a tendency toward these types of rules, but it might be a big source of the incompatibility leading to divorce.

    Out of tradition my wife and I asked each others parents if we could marry, but no matter what they said it would not have changed our minds.

  38. Katie on March 24, 2005 at 1:51 pm

    A few people have commented that kissing and being intimate (in a chaste way) before marriage is essential to know if you are sexually compatible. I am personally a believer in expressing affection before marriage, but I am left with the question:

    Does your level of compatibility in kissing necessarily correlate to sexual compatibility in the bedroom? If you have good kissing chemistry, does that carry over into your sex life? There would have to be a proven correlation between the two in order to use the above argument against “pure dating.” Testing this theory would involve having multiple sexual partners (who you started out kissing of course). And assuming that most bloggers on T&S have only had one sexual partner, I am sure we will not be able to say one way or another.

  39. A. Greenwood on March 24, 2005 at 2:33 pm

    The real truth is that our way of getting marriage is and has been for a long time formed around dating and falling in love. You can’t just change that even if you think its a great idea. The most you can do is modify the way we do things a little.

    So whether arranged marriages are a good idea or not (my general instinct is to feel that they would work at least as well as our current system generally, but that our current system really worked well for me personally), trying to institute them is utopian fantasy.

  40. charlene on March 24, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    UGH. The problem is that my parents would choose a very different person for me (and if I had never dated, I would probably agree with them) than the sort of person I now think is good for me. They would pick someone who was ambitious, financially very well off, and had gone to a prestigious school.

    Dating, and some maybe less-than-great choices thereby, made me realize that patience, even-tempered-ness, humility, dependability, selflessness, independence, and a certain silly brand of math geekiness :) were way more important to me and the potential happiness of my marriage. And a lot of those things, except maybe the last, you do actually have to spend a fair amount of time with a person to see.

    On the other hand, if I were a different sort of person, an arranged marriage or courtship would certainly prevent me from marrying some irresponsible loser bum, so it does have some things to recommend it!

    On the third hand :) dating let *me* work out some weird kinks in how I related to guys. In my first relationships, I was *way* too selfish, and didn’t listen enough– and once I got into a rut with a boyfriend it was very easy for us to stay there, so if I had married without dating I would probably have continued to be quite selfish. I really think it was a good growth process both for me and for my friends and family that I’ve seen go through the dating process. So I am totally for dating unless you are extremely mature to begin with, as I was not.

  41. Kaimi on March 24, 2005 at 3:25 pm

    Katie,

    That’s a very interesting point, but I’m afraid that we’ll just have to let the issue remain where it is right now — since this board is definitely not a proper forum for anyone to be sharing or examining any empirical evidence on the subject!

  42. Laura on March 24, 2005 at 4:03 pm

    What about the fact that dating is fun? Yes, dating helps us learn more about ourselves and what kind of person we want to marry. You’ll probably have less surprises if you marry someone that you’ve dated because you know what that person is like and you’ve probably already kissed them and are attracted to them.

    As far as having a happy marriage, it may all be luck of the draw. The great guy you date may not be a great guy to be married to.

    But, as far as just enjoying being single and having a good time, dating was great. I’m so glad I dated a lot. Not because it culminated in a happy marriage (although I am happily married), but because dating, in it’s own right, was a blast.

  43. Kevin Barney on March 24, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    Katie, you are quite correct that mutually agreeable chaste physical intimacy may not necessarily be an accurate barometer for actual sexual compatibility in marriage. But given our morality, we don’t have a lot of other options but to hope that it is so.

  44. Dan Richards on March 27, 2005 at 9:44 pm

    I think we might consider adopting the Amish practice of bundling.

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