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Courting vs Dating: What’s The Difference?

Nowadays, it is easy to mix up the meanings of courting and dating. Although they are very similar, they do not mean the same. If you want to know what is the difference between courting and dating, just keep on reading.

Fortunately, the answer to this question it’s not hard at all. It is all about where do you want to go with your relationship or your relationship-to-be, and how do you want to get to know your to-be partner.

Courting is an old word traditionally used to refer to when a person starts a romantic relationship with other or is in the process to do it so. This relationship must lead to a marriage, or the closest to it you can have. And intercourse before marriage is not a thing.

Dating is the “evolution” of this concept, in the sense that it is what most people do instead of courting these days. If you are dating someone, you can have sexual relations with them, and it’s not essential that you marry this person.

Even though these are simple concepts, there are a lot of little things to pay attention to when it comes to the difference between dating and courting.

It’s really all about the details. So, if you want to know deeply what each term corresponds to, you will need to know a bit of the romantic side of humankind’s history.

The Real Difference Between Courting And Dating

According to the Oxford Dictionary definition, courting is to “be involved with romantically, typically with the intention of marrying”. Although some people continue to use this term, it is considered a dated verb, meaning that in the contemporary days another verb is used to replace courting.

Yet, courting is used to resemble and bring back some of the values and traditions of the old days. It’s normal to see traditional families saying “courting” instead of “dating”.

If someone says to you that they are courting with you, probably this person wants to do something different than dating you. Unless, of course, they only want to use fancy words to impress you.

When you are courting someone just like in the old days, it’s necessary to have the support of your family. This is a tradition that some Catholic families like to keep.

It’s not acceptable to have sexual relations before marriage, and it is important to follow some formalities, such as gifting and having company on dates, at least in the first ones.

Now, if someone says that they want to date you, they probably mean that they want to get to know you deeply, but without having the pressure of thinking about marriage in such an early step of your relationship.

So, in a certain way, dating is a modern form of courtship, that values contemporary traditions and mindsets. Look at this little comparison table to see the difference between these similar concepts:

  • It’s an old and traditional way of getting to know someone in a romantic way;
  • Has different forms;
  • It mainly leads to marriage or a long-term commitment;
  • It’s not usual to have sexual relations before marriage;
  • It’s a modern version of courting;
  • It can lead or not to a marriage or a long-term commitment;
  • It may or may not involve sexual relations;
  • It may or may not involve family;
  • It’s not as formal as courting;

Types Of Courtship

Yes, there is more than one way of courting someone. We have seen that dating itself is, in a certain way, a form of courting someone, but without the possible pressure of having to marry that person.

However, there are many ways of courting. Courtship is a rich reign for romantic people and lovers to explore. See what the most known forms of courting are:


1. Chatting online

That may look confusing at first, but it is not. Courting is also the process of getting to know someone deeply, and that is why modern dating is considered a new way of courting. Because of that, we know that chatting online is a very common way of courting nowadays.

People get to even fall in love with each other through online conversations, where they spend hours and hours daily speaking to each other. This is a good way of getting closer and attached to someone, and to discover if you like to be close (in a way) to that person or not.

2. Sending gifts

Sending gifts is a more known way of traditional courting. In the old days, the potential mates would send lovely gifts, such as flowers or jewelry, to the object of their affection.

But you can do whatever you want if you think it’s right: it can be poems, food, games, books, tickets to a concert or even expensive things like a computer. It’s up to you.

3. Sending letters

Do you remember the stories about World War II soldiers that used to send romantic letters to a girl they liked in their village? That was the only way they had of courting someone through the hardships of war.

Unless, of course, their romantic date was physically close to them. Anyway, sending letters is a very lovely and traditional way of courting, that is still valued these days.

4. Going on a date

It may seem obvious, but going on a date it’s a very common way of courting, and a very important way as well.

You need to be close to someone, to spend some hours in real life with this person that you intend to get in a relationship with. That way, you will know if you are comfortable around them or not.

How Long Does Courting Usually Take?

It is really up to the couple to decide when is the right time to go further in the relationship and take a bigger step.

Usually, it is normal to see couples that have been courting for one or two years to get married, but really, it is up to you and your partner.

If you both don’t feel like stopping the courting process, you don’t need to. You can be courting forever.

The important thing to remember and pay attention to is that is necessary to have honest conversations with your partner. If you want to get married, don’t hesitate to tell your lover that.

Sometimes the person that you love is not in the same vibe that you are, and that’s sad, but it is not the end of the world. You can wait to see if the person will ever change their vibe or you can “move on”.

Either way, you need to be respectful and true to yourself. Do what you feel is best for you. Don’t get stuck in a bad place.

James Smith

James is a passionate explorer and the creative mind behind, a platform dedicated to unraveling captivating distinctions. With an insatiable curiosity, he uncovers hidden nuances in various aspects of life, from cultural traditions to scientific phenomena. James believes that appreciating differences fosters personal growth and societal empathy.