Dating vs. Engagement


Are there any "practical" differences between dating and being engaged, apart from the obvious (that engagement carries a promise of marriage, well dating does not)?


Unfortunately, in our culture, dating is not much more than the equivalent of trying socks on to find one that fits best. Engagement is a commitment towards the future to get married.


[quote="Ora_et_Labora, post:1, topic:215504"]
Are there any "practical" differences between dating and being engaged, apart from the obvious (that engagement carries a promise of marriage, well dating does not)?


Dating is discerning. Engagement is preparation. Marriage is the beginning of something new. In both, you need to keep the door wider to separating than I think secular couples do. You need to pay attention to red flags and seriously pray about them. I don't believe couples should become engaged until they've gotten through most of that discerning and are ready to start planning and preparing for marriage as a married couple. Engagement should not be used to sort of leverage feelings of security and intimacy by saying "Oh we're engaged, but we're going to wait to set a date."

Honestly, there is no real test to married life. There is a complete difference from basing your commitment on how emotionally attached you are and how hard you find it to either break up or stay together, and being married. When you date, you really need to see that person for who he or she is. You need to be able to say "This is an actual good person who will make a good spouse." Not "I can't imagine living my life without you. Please don't ever leave me."

The hard part in discerning is that there are no perfect people. At first they seem perfect and we fill in the gaps with our imagination, but eventually we get to that reality of sin, vices and hang ups. Its important to not enter marriage while still delusioned into thinking this person is absolutely perfect. You need to see the person for who he or she is and prayerfully discern it. And its hard to see your own motivations clearly? For instance, as you get older there can be the pressure of simply wanting to be married and to start a family. Do I want to marry this person or do I want to just be married?

Dating is there to prevent the whole "fools rush in thing." It doesn't necessarily make marriage easier or guarentee your happiness. It just is about recognizing that the brain and the heart need to work together.


I don't know if I quite understand what you mean by "practical" differences. Things do change when you become engaged. You consult each other more on any decisions that effect your life together after the wedding, you start thinking in terms more of "we" instead of "me", your family may start to look at the two of you differently, there's the whole pre-cana courses. IMO, there is a significant difference.


I personally think in a way people have now come to consider dating as a serious thing when in the past it wasn't

My mom who is 82 sees nothing wrong with a woman accepting a date on Friday with one man and a date on Saturday with another man. She is shocked at the possessiveness of people who think 'How can you go out with with someone the very next day you had a date with me.

As I have explained to my mom. In her day a date on Friday meant she went to watch a local hockey game (we are from Canada :D) and the guy bought her a hot chocolate and then made sure she got home safely. If my mom wanted to be riskee, she would strech her hand out 1/4 of the way towards the man. If the man wanted to hold it, he had to strech his hand out the whole 3/4 of the other way. She would then go home and day dream about holding his hand. Of course there was nothing wrong with seeing someone else the next day.

However, nowadays having a date on Friday means sexually activity. Whether or not you 'go all the way' it is very clear that in less than a month you would be. Only someone of ill repute would then date someon else the next day.

So since dating today implies sex, it also means people are possessive and want exclusivity today.

On the other hand, in a society where no one has premarital sex, until you actually say 'I do' you are fair game for anyone to win you over.

When I was younger, in Canada if a man asked me if I had a boyfriend and I said yes, he walked away. He knew he did not have a chance. I spent 4 months in Mexico where women did not have premarital sex. Men would look at my hand and see there was no ring, they would then ask me out. If I said 'I have a boyfriend' (mainly to get rid of them) they would say when are you getting married? When I told them we weren't engaged, they would say 'Then if he is taking to long to propose, you are free to date me'. In their mind it was OK because I still hadn't been 'claimed'

So in a nut shell. In a sexually active culture, dating means 'commitment' because even secular people do not want to 'share bodies'. However, in a Godly society, dating would mean spending time with someone you enjoy and engagement would mean 'We will soon be one and are now off limits'



Dating is not supposed to be serious. It is just dating. The idea behind dating is to get to know people, learn what you want in a spouse, etc. Dating can end in two ways: marriage or breakup. Most dating relationships will end in breakup because chances are you are going to date several people before you find a good match.

Today, many couples are sleeping together by the third date. They are emotionally attached and dependent when they shouldn’t be. This is why they get so possessive, even if they barely know or just started dating a person. There is also a higher rate of suicide, depression, and divorce than ever before. You should not let yourself get emotionally attached to someone you barely know or have only been dating for a few weeks or a few months. Dating is supposed to be about having fun and getting to know who the other person is. STD rates are through the roof these days because of such promiscuity, and half of all children are born out-of-wedlock nowadays.

I think the old style of dating is much better. People were less fragile and able to make better decisions when the sexual aspect wasn’t there until after marriage (or at the very least engagement). People actually learned how to communicate with each other before getting married. The divorce rates and STD rates were much lower. You were more likely to find someone who was good for you BECAUSE you went on a date with one person on Friday and another on Saturday, so you got to meet more people. People didn’t allow themselves to be emotionally attached to someone they barely knew, and didn’t put themselves at risk for out-of-wedlock pregnancies or STDs. Because they weren’t so dependent and emotionally attached, they were able to think clearly about whether or not someone was good for them, and were more likely to choose a better match for themself.

Dating = going to dinner, a movie, spending time together, getting to know each other
Engagement = the wedding date is set. you are taking marriage preparation classes to prepare for the big day


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit