"We've been seeing the terms "courtship" and "dating" tossed around a little bit lately. I figured that I would start a thread and give my two cents on the subject.
To me, the main difference between courtship and dating is that courtship is more geared to future marriage while dating is pretty much done for fun.
Courtship is more formal. In other words, the couple doesn't put themselves in a situation where trouble might come up. They are never alone together.
Couples who date, as opposed to court, each other tend to put themselves in situations where things that shouldn't happen outside of marriage are more likely to occur.
That being said, I believe in courting. I would rather be courted by a man with the purpose of his courtship being eventual marriage. In courtship, the couple are more prone to respect the other's feelings and beliefs.
I will tell you about my late husband's courting of myself.
We met when my daughter was about three years old. My ex-husband (who left me for another woman) was fighting for custody of my daughter. Steve gave me a ride 600 miles to go to court. Yes, we were alone in the car there and back. But, at that time, neither of us had anything but the trip on our minds. One week later, Steve called my house and asked if he could take my daughter and I to a movie and dinner. I said yes. We went to the movie, sat my daughter between us. When we went to dinner, we went to a "family-type" restaurant and again my daughter sat between us. We were not alone at all during that "date." I respected him for that. It was the first time I had ever been on a date like that and I was 23 years old.
One week later, Steve called and asked if my daughter and I would go to the park and have a picnic with him. I said yes. He told me not to worry about providing anything. He asked me out, so he would make sure that everything was taken care of. He picked us up and we went to the park. He had bought a chicken dinner from KFC (he said he couldn't cook). We talked and ate leisurely. He took my daughter to the swings and pushed her on one. He looked like he was having a blast with her. That went a long way in my eyes. On the way back to my house, my daughter fell asleep, so Steve decided to talk seriously to me. He told me that he had decided that I was the woman he wanted to marry. Never being through a courtship before, I told him he was nuts.
Well, for the next six months, we went on "family dates," visitted nursing homes together, went to church together, and visitted my mother. He asked my mother if he could marry me before he technically proposed to me. We ended up getting married barely more than six months after we met. But, Steve and I never argued about anything (believe it or not). We pretty much agreed on everything. And, what we didn't agree on, I deferred to him because I believe that the husband is the head of the household.
Steve died of a stroke when I was 30 years old. He was 39. I miss him terribly. But, because of him, I know that I'm worth enough for a man to have to work a little for my affection. And, I'm teaching my daughter the same thing about herself. I want her to know that she's worth having a man put effort into having her as a wife.
And, that, my friends, is the big difference between courtship and dating. With courtship, a man proves that the woman he's courting is worth his effort. With dating, all he's doing is having fun."