What Happened to Courtship? Musings from Our Modern World

Courtship. A period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship before getting married. But does courtship end once you’re officially together? How can it?

As the Editor at Mith Books, I have the privilege of reading and editing the work of many talented writers. It’s added a whole new dimension to my journey as a writer. As I take out my magnifying glass and go through their work over and over again — their words imprint themselves in my mind and leave their footprints on my soul.

Recently, Fareeha Arshad wrote a book club discussion on That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy. In her post, she takes us through the journey of courtship — one that takes place Jane Austen style with stern fathers, family negotiations and chaperones before the dating itself can even begin. 

that can be arranged 4

As I edited Arshad’s post, I found myself wondering about the courtship rituals of the modern world that’s populated with a variety of apps for your dating (dis)pleasure. There’s OkCupid — where an algorithm matches you to potential partners based on your profile and preferences. There’s Tinder — where you can swipe left or right based on appearance alone. And there’s also Bumble — where girls make the first move. This is, of course, just a small sampler of the plethora of apps where one can begin (or kill) the process of courtship. 

I don’t have anything against these apps. I really don’t. I just hear more horror stories than I do happy endings which leads me to believe that the whole thing is a disaster waiting to happen. 

People jumping from one person to next without their relationship dynamic ever changing. Whilst people can and do change, most individuals I know exhibit a certain pattern of behaviour that repeats itself over and over again no matter who in the world they are with. It’s like having the exact same relationship with a different person each time.

And they typically think the problem is the other person. Go figure. The Groundhog Day of Dating simply doesn’t interest me.

dry rose flower next to broken heart shaped cookie

Ever since I edited Arshad’s post, I’ve been thinking a lot about how courtship doesn’t and shouldn’t end with marriage. As someone who’s been in a few committed relationships, I am all too familiar with the whole ‘the spark is gone’ nonsense. If you’ve ever watched so much as a candle flame burn — you know that it needs fuel to keep going.

If you don’t feed the flame, it will die. 

People like me end up losing big time in this modern world of dating where everything is just for the moment. In my younger years, I often wondered what in the world was wrong with me. Why can’t I just be more ‘out there’ and have fun the way many of peers do? Why can’t I just enjoy the moment and who cares what happens tomorrow?

Why do I feel the need to have an intimate connection that slowly builds over time?

Is a commitment a death sentence? Apparently there are rules surrounding when to bring this up. I’ve been chastised by multiple people for even considering it on the first date. And heaven forbid I dare to bring it up. 

I know plenty of people out there feel differently. And I get it. There’s no judgment on my part. We’re all wired differently.

But if you ask me – if commitment isn’t even on the cards, why in the world would I even date this person? And even if you do manage to negotiate a commitment – sans stern father and chaperone – there’s no saying that the other person will actually even honour it. Let’s face it. Plenty of people just don’t take their commitments seriously. 

photo of couple sitting on bench

I don’t believe anyone should stay in a relationship that is detrimental to their well-being because they are ‘committed’. If he or she treats you like crap, dump that person, pay the get-out-of-jail fine and run for your life. But to run away cause the spark has died? Are we still in high school? 

In an intimate relationship, the courtship never ends. There’s always something new to discover about the other person that you thought you knew. Humans are like puzzles. You think you know someone, only to find out that there was this whole other side of them that they had buried or hidden away because someone hurt them in the past. 

To truly know someone takes years of commitment. And even then, people change. They grow older and the things that once mattered to them don’t matter anymore. Their priorities change. Heck, even their favourite ice cream flavour may no longer be vanilla. 

man and woman holding hands walking on seashore during sunrise

As a former teacher, I’ve heard a lot of people say that marriage is hard work. That commitments are tough. Why do so many people act like it’s a such burden? It is a responsibility, for sure. But it is also a lifelong journey of discovery. 

You grow together. You learn together. You evolve together. You make it through obstacles together. You celebrate anniversaries together. You share a life together. 

Sure, you don’t always see eye-to-eye with the other person–but that’s because they’re their own person on their own journey–in addition to being a part of yours. Courtship begins with a commitment, in your heart in and in your life. And then it never ends.

Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned. Maybe commitment means something to me. Maybe I am simple-minded.

Or maybe I am just happy courting that one special person for the rest of my life. 

Author: Dipa

Publisher at Mith Books | Author of The Little Light and The Merchant of Stories

2 thoughts

  1. This was so true and so honest. ❤
    And I totally get it and totally feel you when you said, "Or maybe I am just happy courting that one special person for the rest of my life."

    That was beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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