How would a non-dating courtship work?

How would I get involved in a courtship relationship with a young lady, as opposed to the modern secular conception of dating?

Do I ask her family before I even ask her out on a first date? Do we only go places with friends or with a chaperone? How does it work? I’m intrigued, and I really don’t like the dating process, but don’t know how this alternative would work.

It’s further complicated by the fact that I’m a convert, so have no Catholic family connections, and I’m a University graduate student, so most of the young women I meet are not living with their families. How would courtship in these circumstances differ from dating?

First of all, I’m glad to see you considering a courtship, I know you have been through some difficult times lately. :slight_smile:

I think that it is more of a mindset than anything really, and it is conveyed in how you approach the relationship with a woman from the onset. When you talk about things that interest you, and what is important to you, you are honest and don’t only talk about movies, current events, and favorite foods. :wink:

The difference between dating and courting is the end goal. If you are only interested in going out with someone to have a nice time and have no interest in every considering them for marriage, then you are dating. If you go into a date with the thought at the back of your mind that you are considering this person for marriage, then your entire focus of where the date could possibly lead is totally different.

How do you convey this to someone on a first date? Gosh - I am not really sure. My husband and I were long distance, as you know, so all these types of questions were out in the air before we ever considered meeting for the first time. Our end goal, for both of us, was made perfectly clear. This was not dating - this was clearly courting.

In your situation, perhaps asking mutual friends to introduce you to the woman instead of approaching her yourself might be a way to start the introductions.

Hopefully someone else will have some more practical advice for you, I’m sorry this is probably less than helpful.

I guess that if I met someone and went out with him for the first time, and he told me straight out the gate that he really wanted to be married and was looking for the right girl, how I would react would depend on the guy I suppose. Some guys would be a total turn off with that approach, and some I might be interested in because of that - it would depend on so many factors, I don’t think you can plan for everything.

Good luck though! :smiley:


As you know I am not very experienced my self when it comes to a good and godly relationship.
But I think this is how it works: First you are friends and you really get to know each other well… and then if you both fall for each other you start discerning a relationship… and if you find that its what you both want then you start courting.
Two things I live by and advice to pass on:

  1. always pray together when you are together. Espercially in the beginning. I have spent hours with guys where we were checking each other out and starting a “meeting” by putting it over into God’s Hands and asking Him to bless the other and the day is just awesome. It shows to both persons what kind of a person you are dealing with and that you are not out to play games.
  2. Strive to avoid physical closeness until the courtship stage is well established and then only in safe places and times and after you have talked about your limits and rules.

Those are a few of my good ideas :slight_smile:

I’ll be reading this thread with interest…

Thanks a lot folks, I really appreciate that.

So, for example, talking things through at the beginning, instead of waiting until months down the line to talk about the future, might be a good idea? Sitting together before the Blessed Sacrament rather than making small talk? No physical contact at all early in the relationship? This sounds exactly like what I’m looking for. I’m a very serious-minded person, and find the structured discernment process for Religious life far better suited to its’ purpose than the somewhat messy processes our society has put in place to discern for married life.

I’m usually quite a solitary person, I do have acquaintances and people who I know through church and other activities, but I tend to keep myself to myself as far as I can. I guess if I were to meet a woman she would have to be similar, or at least be willing to accept that about me. It’s difficult to meet anyone when one person has that personality type though, let alone when both people are that way inclined.

I suppose I am also looking for someone who’s driven, who can point out my faults and drive me to change. Maybe that’s something that’s easier to find in a religious superior than in a wife.

Any other advice would be much appreciated.

One more thing…just make sure you have some semi-private time to talk, at the very least.Private may be good as well.

Some people’s idea of courtship is that the couple are not to be alone together until the wedding night…:frowning:

Make sure you GET that time to talk so you can get to know the person!

I absolutely agree with this!!! You can not get to know a person in only one type of environment. Being alone does not mean being inappropriate in any way. I think the concept of never being alone until the wedding night is ridiculous, and can only set up a couple for unknown issues later.

I can see someone writing in their petition for decree of nullity - “we never spent any time alone before we married, I had no idea what he was like with just me and not other people around”

Ugh!!! :eek: Asking for trouble!!


hopefully I can avoid that!

But its is absolutely necessary to get to know someone on a personal level. THere are things anyone wouldn’t talk about in front of someone else. Not because its bad…just personal.

Its is incredibly important to reach that level, so you can better understand the person’s true personality.

Sometimes a person will act different in a family setting. Not on purpose, perhaps, but they still do it.

But keep in mind it IS important to get to know someone in a family setting, too. Because you get to see how they treat
their family around you, and you can see how much that changes as the relationship goes on. If it doesn’t change, then great! If it does…well…Just keep in mind what it is changing to is how its always been…but now the individual is just more comfortable around you.

So to sum it up…Private AND family time are crucial to getting to know someone.

My FH and I met online and we were both just looking for someone to spend time with that made us laugh. In the beginning neither one of us really thought it would go anywhere, so our situation is a bit different than yours. I think keeping communication and friendship as your focus is better than working on romantic attraction.

I hear so many friends say “oh, we were together for several months and started to get serious and then he/she turned into another person”. I guess you’d say that each person was on their “best behavior” … and not totally being honest. Liza said that stating up front that you’re looking for marriage might not work out well, and I agree, but if you do it in the first few meetings you have it’s probably better. It’s important to be yourself and share what you really feel. I’ve read books that said it’s better to be mysterious in the beginning … what a bunch of hooey. FH and I shared everything about ourselves early on and stayed up all night on several occasions talking about everything under the sun. When you know someone that well, faults and all, it’s hard to waste time.

FH is my best friend. I look at the people around me who say “so-and-so is a great friend but there’s no romantic attraction” and think they are completely nuts. I think that may be a difference between courtship and dating? Dating indulges what may be a fleeting attraction, with a somewhat selfish nature. Of course, it does evolve into something else for some people. Courtship, as I see it, is seeing if the two of you can be friends for the long haul first and THEN seeing if love develops. It’s being respectful of your connection between your brains and souls before giving into your often-idiotic hearts.

'Least that’s what’s worked for us. Best of luck to you! :thumbsup:

Oh I forgot. You mentioned that you were quiet and liked to be alone and might want someone who is similar. Just be prepared - God has a funny way of matching up people. FH is quiet, shy, with only a few really close friends, and usually spends time alone. I’m loud, rowdy, outgoing, have lots of close friends, and rarely am ever alone. Our personalities are absolutely magnetic. We can (and have) been together 24 hours for days on end and don’t tire of each other. Actually, all of his friends are shy loners and all of my friends are like me and we never would have thought that we’d match up otherwise. I know several couples like this, including my parents, who have been married 47 years.

The other thing I wanted to toss in is not to rule anyone out at first. Chat on the computer, on the phone, whatever you like and scratch the surface a little, especially if you meet online. Most of the happy couples I know said that they didn’t think that their spouse was the right person in the beginning … in fact, they bordered on disinterested until they spent a little time together. FH came across as boring the first few times I talked to him - boy, was that the wrong assessment! Additionally, I was so goofy and silly that he never would have taken me for a churchy girl. Who knew?

In my view adults don’t need permissions and asking for the parents’ consent when the woman is adult is somewhat ill-compatible with her being free to consent on her own. It’s only her decision to make.

I don’t know what you mean by “non-dating”, but I generally stick to my idea of not establishing a series of predefined meetings of a semi-official nature, but rather spending time together in a natural way. Naturally, I will go to places and have fun - and even in a romantic way if warranted - but no fitting into the dating culture. I meet people, I don’t have dates. I meet people on business and I meet a nice lady or the lady I care for (if there is any), which doesn’t mean all three meetings are the same. It means I just don’t do the dating thing.

No chaperones for any reason other than actually needing one. And if you need one, it’s probably better to meet only in public places or around family. I’m obviously not talking about such situations as when you healthily avoid giving bad impressions, but rather about dragging someone along for the sake of doing it.

I don’t like the idea of “acting out” a relationship. It should be natural. Cautious when needed, but natural. Not acted out.

Hmmm…although there are plenty of women out there who might be more than happy to do this, I suspect that this might get old REALLY quickly. Perhaps what you actually want is someone who will bring out the best in you, not change you. :slight_smile:

I agree with Chevalier that actually asking a woman’s father’s permission to court his daughter is a bit much in this day and age of women with advanced education, jobs, her own apartment, etc. A smart woman will still value her parents’ wisdom, experience, and advice about spouse selection, but it’s ultimately her decision, not her father’s. But go ahead and look for a similarly serious-minded woman to discern marriage with. Be sure to take the heavy pressure off at the beginning by reminding both of you that discerning NOT to marry can also be a successful end to a courtship.

With respect to not having any Catholic relatives close by, I heard a story years ago of a young couple asking an older married couple from church to host the young man overnight whenever he was in town to visit his girlfriend. This older married couple stood in for the parents and helped the young couple maintain a chaste courtship. No temptations of overnight sleepovers in motels or the girl’s apartment for them.

Whereas when I held hands and gazed deeply into my fiance’s eyes in a public place at college, we were told to “get a room.” Hmmph. :mad:

Very true on all points. But sometimes asking the father is required…(believe me…I know)

With respect to not having any Catholic relatives close by, I heard a story years ago of a young couple asking an older married couple from church to host the young man overnight whenever he was in town to visit his girlfriend. This older married couple stood in for the parents and helped the young couple maintain a chaste courtship. No temptations of overnight sleepovers in motels or the girl’s apartment for them.

That is incredibly sweet…:slight_smile:

Whereas when I held hands and gazed deeply into my fiance’s eyes in a public place at college, we were told to “get a room.” Hmmph. :mad:


Though I’d get worse if I tried that…Much…MUCH worse…

If the woman depended on her father’s consent, I would worry about it being dependance rather than obedience and respect. Even if it were obedience, actually, her own consent cannot be supplanted, so we’d have to be talking about such a kind of obedience in which her own free will is to follow her father’s decision. Probably could happen, but I’d probably not be able to marry that woman, preferring instead to let her go her own way and doubting the freedom of her consent. Respect for others, including parents, is not likely the best way to pick a husband, either.

But let me reiterate, if she depended so much on her father’s consent, I would worry if she were truly able to undertake the obligations of marriage.

In the particular case I am referring to, I’m certain its due to respect and obedience, and definitely not dependance.
In fact, I have been told she was the one who asked her father to do so.

Then that whole situation is screwed up. Seriously, you need to move on.


In all seriousness, if someone offered me a million dollars (or more) to give up on her, I still wouldn’t.
I love everything about her.

…but my case is off topic…right?

But you obviously don’t want her bad enough to get her . . .

Hey hey hey!

Totally untrue.

But I have to think about her before myself. She is very close to her family, and if I just went ahead without respecting her father’s wishes, even if it meant she and I would be together, it would put a rift between us and her family. I wouldn’t want to put her through that. So I wouldn’t take that kind of action unless I had no other choice.

Even if it causes me to suffer :frowning:

But hey…again…Off topic. If you want to discuss this while staying ON topic…come here perhaps read up on it so I don’t have to repeat myself…:smiley:

Still, she’s asking for permission. I know your case and I have the impression that she isn’t quite ready.

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