In my novel, A Mother’s Shadow, Emily and Harry ‘court’ as it was called back in the day; dating as it is referred to most commonly now. I am surprised at how things have changed in the dating world in just the last few decades. It always has been important, and I believe it still is. However, there seems to be a transformation from dating with a purpose, to just passing time and hanging out endlessly with no purpose, no direction, just – – – hanging out.
Let’s start with a bit of the history of dating:
In times long gone by, marriages were arranged for political or monetary benefit or to gain property. Some marriages were even by capture and not by choice.
We have many of our chivalry dating rituals handed down to us from Medieval times, such as a man opening doors for a woman and pulling out her chair. It was also the time that romance began to take precedence over arrangements for the benefit of a family, person or rulers. The man would sing songs and recite poetry to the woman he wanted to court. The virtues of chastity and honor were held in the highest regard.
The Victorian Era (1837-1901) now put the primary focus of love and romance in a relationship. Courting became almost an art form; very formal and rigid. If a man was interested in talking to a lady, it was not proper for him to simply walk up and speak to her. Even after a proper introduction it was quite some time before it was considered appropriate for the man and woman to be seen in public speaking to each other. Couples were almost always escorted by a chaperone and a marriage proposal was hand written.
It is interesting as we look at the history of courting or dating. Before 1900, courtship was between a man and a woman and it was with the deliberate purpose of getting to know each other and assessing the other as a potential husband or wife. They were usually from the same area, and known by someone close to them so they could be assessed before the relationship was too far along. The man would go to the woman’s home to court her, and then under the watchful eye of her mother and brothers.
A considerable change came with World War WWII and the way society viewed ‘proper’ courting, values and family involvement in the marital agreement. Introductions were no longer needed. A man and woman were now able to go to a movie, for a ride, to dinner, anywhere without any escort or the safeguard of the family and close-knit neighbors. For better or worse, it brought change.
Now we have another significanttransformation in the dating arena. Instead of dating or even courting, it is more common for groups of young men and young women, in their twenties and even thirties, or older, to ‘hang out’ as a group……all the time……just a mass of people all tagging along together…..and do this weekend after weekend, month after month, even year after year.
Hanging out DOES have a purpose:
- It gives you a chance to meet new people that you might never would have meet as they come with others in the group.
- You can get to know a person a bit, such as if you have anything in common, before you ask them out/accept to go on a date with them.
Caution: Do not get stuck in the rut of of ‘friend zone’ of always hanging out and never actually dating to see how much you really do like that person.
Now for dating, let’s first look at the definition –
Dating, a form of courtship, which may include any social activity undertaken by, typically, two persons with the aim of assessing each others suitability as a partner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date)
So why is it so important to pair off to date*:
- Dating allows two people to get to know each other
- You make friends that you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to know as you date
- Your circle of friends increase
- Dating is so critical because it gives you a chance to get to know how the opposite sex thinks, behaves and reacts.
- You can communicate and relate much better after you are married as you date and become acquainted and more familiar with how the the opposite sex thinks, which comes from dating.
- As you date more people you realize what kind of person you want to be married to and live with the rest of your life. When you are a teenager you have a more panacea idea of what you want in a mate, but after dating, becoming more mature, growing older and a little wiser (hopefully a lot wiser) your image of a spouse is more true of what will lead to a life of happiness and success as a family.
- When you find someone whose company you really enjoy, take it slow so that you can get to know the other person; at least have a better chance of truly knowing the other person.
Question: Dating does cost money, time and you may go out with some…..do I dare say duds? So why got through it all? Is it worth the effort and work?
Answer: Geez, even a high school diploma takes years of showing up, doing things that were not always fun and keeping at it. Why wouldn’t finding a right one be somewhat difficult too?
The young man –
- He learns to be a leader as he becomes assertive by asking a young woman out on a date.
- He becomes responsible as he provides a safe environment for his date, thinking ahead of the activity they will go on.
- He becomes creative as he thinks of fun dates that do not involve a lot of money and the same old thing – such as a movie, or just watching tv.
The young woman –
- She learns to be more perceptive and responsible as she thinks ahead for her own safety as possible.
- She becomes more nurturing and skilled at looking out for others in the group, particularly her own date, and pay attention that they are included in the conversations and activity.
- You learn to be a better conversationalist as you listen and converse with the other person and not just talk about yourself. You make sure the conversation includes them, and is mostely about them.
- Your social skills will increase and will rock off the charts if you will learn from others – mainly by observing what is working and what isn’t for you and others.
- Is there a positive feeling for a success, such as helping your date and any others have a voice in the conversations.
- Or a bomb, like when only going on and on about yourself, ignoring your date or gossiping about others.
Dating generally begins in high school to socialize, and can go into the early 20’s and beyond. It’s also a way to get to know yourself and what you are about, and what you like and dislike; this is perfect and normal.
As you later (when the marrying age and prepared) date seriously to see the qualities in the other person that are important, and which will appear naturally over time, take it slow and get to know each other dating in different situations, you might want to ask yourself the following:
- Will he/she be a good father or mother?
- Will we have the potential to make a happy home together?
- What do I need to do to be more prepared to be a better person?
- What do we have in common?
- What don’t we have in common?
- What strengths do they have that could help strengthen my weaknesses?
- Do we have similar goals in life?
- Do we feel the same about religion?
- Do we feel the same about politics?
- Most importantly of all, Is God the most important aspect for direction in their life, and of course yours? If so, all will fall in place.
*Hanging out at a friends house, a youth group, a school activity or impromptu gathering can be an awesome way to meet new friends and have a chance to date outside the same circle of people.
*Dating, though awkward and even challenging, can help you understand yourself more as you meet others, get to know them and their personalities.
*Waiting to date until at least sixteen is recommended because of all the physical, emotional and psychological changes that are naturally occurring, it is difficult to also add in the mix of the attraction of one-on-one with the opposite sex and handle it with sound wisdom, high morals and not have regrets later on.
*Group dating is another highly suggested consideration while you are in high school and even after; depending on your situation. It offers safety and is easier as there are other people to talk to in the group, and it usually is more fun too.
*Leave the fear behind, find out where people are hanging out and meet new friends.
*Take the challenge to ask someone on a date/accept a date that isn’t the ‘perfect’ ideal of what you think you are looking for. You never know…
*HAVE FUN! ENJOY LIFE! This is a remarkable time to dive right in and just swim in the BEST of the GOOD that life has to offer – that is what youth is all about.
Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today
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