On any given Friday night, I usually wait until about 5:59pm to decide what to do. I like to keep my options open until the very last minute in case I get a better offer. The idea of someone asking me on a date and agreeing on a time and place in advance has not only proved unrealistic in our culture, but rather unthinkable. Like most little girls, I grew up naïvely thinking that dating would involve candlelit dinners, presents, and mix tapes full of sappy love songs.

However, the older I get, the more skeptical I become that courtship can really exist in the digital world.

Courtship: A period during which a couple develops a romantic relationship, especially with a view to marriage. The word itself is so official and old-fashioned, and the notion is practically obsolete. The concept of courtship has been replaced by “having a thing,” “hooking up,” and “hanging out.”

My entire dating life I’ve been reliant on technology. From “researching” potential dates on Facebook, to curating a genuine yet flattering Instagram page, I am guilty of using social media as a crutch for my real life interactions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I’d like to rewind to the time of gentlemen callers, but I do think it would be a delightful departure from our contemporary dating culture if we strove to be more present.

If you’re on a date, no matter if it’s your first or your fiftieth, your 327 Instagram followers can wait. I guarantee that if you pause whatever else you have going on –- including your electronic devices -– and strive to be truly present, your date will thank you. I realize that letting someone get to know you, the real you and not a filtered version of yourself, is absolutely terrifying. But I can also promise that it is worth it.

I long for intentional dates. In our “swipe right” culture, I don’t want to just be another girl some guy meets online to spend the weekend with. I still expect more. The ease of finding someone to “hook up with” online has perpetuated the idea of casual romance and has created a lot of ambiguity when it comes to actually having a healthy relationship. Everyone is afraid of commitment and everyone has baggage, but hiding it all behind an internet persona has lead us to develop a lot of bad habits.

 In our ‘swipe right’ culture, I don’t want to just be another girl some guy meets online to spend the weekend with.

We have accepted so many unacceptable things when it comes to dating — phones during dinner, solely texting to communicate, and publishing our every move to social media. We’ve accepted that if a date doesn’t go well, it doesn’t really matter because there are countless other profiles to swipe through when you get home.

Despite the convenience of dating apps, it’s hard for our generation to make a real life connection and that is one reason that dating has become so casual. When Netflix doesn’t really mean Netflix and being Catfished is an actual possibility, it’s no wonder that admitting to having feelings for someone is scary! So, instead of taking control and steering the relationship, we take a backseat and let passivity see where the relationship ends up taking us.

Yet, dating is far too important not to care about. Relationships are built on vulnerability, trust, and real life interaction. In fact, the most successful couples I know are the ones who keep their relationships offline. I am not saying that technology is bad — plenty of my friends owe their entire relationships to technology. However, I am saying that some of the best dating principles involve unplugging, looking someone in the eye, and having an honest conversation.

Courtship is all about being intentional and making an effort. Sure, it looks different in the 21st century, but it’s the way of approaching a relationship with the desire to really know someone that remains important and is still attainable today. When we unplug, just for a minute or two, we have the ability to bring some old-fashioned love back into our lives. So while holding hands, love letters and flowers are nice, what I think most of us crave in the era of digital courtship is for someone to see your unfiltered self and like it all the same.

Do you feel like intentionality is lost in today’s dating world?

Image via Melody Munn



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18 comments

  1. I am super into this. Beautifully said. I was just thinking about downloading Bumble, and this had good timing. I might still do it, I might not — but this put my intentions in check. Thank you for this!

  2. Courtship is not dead! Have hope beautiful ladies- I think technology is an incredible thing but do not forget the “old ways” of meeting people in person through group hangouts. People present themselves differently when its one on one sometimes because they try and project what they think you want! This isn’t for everyone but it certainly worked for us. Alan and I really liked eachother but we both came from damaged relationships where there was not enough separation and an unhealthy attachment. Going into our relationship we were very purposeful about spending time with eachother- but around friends. We didn’t go on a one-on-one date for about 2 months. I know this seems old fashioned but I absolutely loved getting to see him interact with someone besides myself. That’s how I found out about his compassion, intelligence, focus, etc. I loved that it wasn’t ALL about me- that came later;) We were able to fall in love with eachother without the intense physicality so it built this strong foundation. The physical aspect just made it even better later. We have been together 7 years now- and every time a wave hits (whether it be finances, family, etc.) we can stand strong knowing we love eachother. PS. He still sends me postcards in the mail and wildflowers from the side of the road. Be intentional in communicating how you Receive love- guys don’t always get this and just do what the movies say- red roses and teddybears. You are all special and unique and deserve the very best.

  3. Thank you for the great post, I couldn’t agree more with these words!
    I was in a three-year relationship before getting back to the single world a few months ago – and it has changed. If before people wouldn’t mind to have a great conversation by dinner and really get to know someone and probably date them for a long period of time, now everybody just wants attention. People don’t want to make friends or even just meet new people, they just want someone to give attention and if they aren’t doing it then someone else will. It feels like nobody wants to take the time to really know someone, but even if things don’t work out you can have a new friend to talk to!
    I may see dating from a more traditional perspective but I believe that when you have another human being in front of you, you should show real interest in getting to know who they are, what they do, what they like, as a friend or a potential lover. Technology is amazing to be closer to people but it will never replace a simple pleasant conversation at some restaurant with someone that is more worried in living the moment than looking at his phone.

    1. Thank you so much for reading my article Rita! Your kind words mean so much to me! Hope that you have an amazing 2016.

  4. I really resonated with this article. I’ve been in and out of the hanging out and hooking up phases with various people, but it has always left me dissatisfied because I believe that we as humans were created for something deeper. Two things that you said really stood out to me. First is the idea of putting down your phone and really seeing the person you are with. Second is the idea that if a date goes poorly then the whole relationship isn’t worth pursuing. I’m so guilty of both of these things. I’ve cut off a number of possible relationships because of a poor first, second, or third date (sometimes they were bad dates because of poor phone etiquette!) Definitely one of my 2016 goals to be a more open and present person – whether that’s in friendships, in dating, or just with myself.

    Great article!!

    1. Great New Years goals! It is definitely more difficult than it seems to be a truly open and present person, but obviously well worth it. Have a great 2016!

  5. Thank you for writing this article. I often wonder this as my partner and I languidly cuddle on Sundays, dreaming of the daughter we will have one day. Will she have a love story like ours – two strangers orbiting each other and inhabiting the same space for years until we collided, two strangers who played telephone with our friends, a “he said, she said” until we said: “Let’s have coffee.” It was a weird hybrid of analog and digital as we used our early generation iPhones to text each other, but oblivious to dating apps not yet popular. Technology has always been there as a tool to connect us, but it was how we occupied the physical world that imprinted our relationship as real, as meaningful, as precious.

    “Courtship: A period during which a couple develops a romantic relationship, especially with a view to marriage. The word itself is so official and old-fashioned, and the notion is practically obsolete.”

    Will my daughter be in love with the idea of a profile? A few subject lines to define a man’s character, his tendency towards chivalry? Will she swipe left on a man who could give her the best years of her life by accident of the thumb? Can you fall in love at first swipe? For the sake of every romantic in this generation and on, I hope so. Otherwise, our digital connectivity isn’t worth it.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Heidi, I am so glad that my article resonated with you. As a fellow romantic, I think about how technology may or may not shape my love story! I have faith that technology can be great, as long as we don’t let it control us! Your comment is a great reminder of this.

  6. “I like to keep my options open until the very last minute in case I get a better offer.”

    That mindset would seem to undermine your intentionality, wouldn’t it? It’s not just up to the guy to make the call and make the arrangements. If you want to go out with someone, empower yourself to reach out and plan something. And if a better offer comes along, oh well…that’s life.

    I have now cancelled a new year’s eve party the invitations to which went out on Dec 1 because everyone was waiting for a better offer and didn’t have the politesse to RSVP.

    Don’t be that person.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks so much for your feedback, I appreciate that you took the time to read my article! I completely agree with you, healthy relationships are a two way street and I by no means have it figured out! My goals for 2016 definitely include trying to be intentional, thank you for the reminder.

  7. This article resonated with me so much. Dating has become such ambiguous territory — all grey areas and blurred lines– it’s hard not be discouraged. As someone with a utilitarian view of dating (i.e. what’s the point if they’re not marriage material) I’m bewildered by how willing and eager many guys are to invest time, energy and emotional intimacy only to act startled when you assume it’s actually going somewhere. Um… did I miss something? When did dating lose its sense of purpose and intention? I don’t want to give in to cynicism and to lower my exceptions, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t burnt out. I guess the only thing we can do is focus on ourselves + cultivating healthy relational habits so we’re ready when it comes! Thanks for that reminder, Hannah. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! Dating is a tricky dance and can so often leave us feeling cynical (glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!). I couldn’t agree more that it’s the perfect time to practice cultivating healthy relationship habits, definitely on my goals for 2016.

  8. Goodness, I love Darling but I so disagree. I appreciate you sharing your experience & perspective though. I always appreciate diversity in experiences. I feel courtship is alive more now then ever!!! My ex boyfriend courted me everything you mentioned – even the sappy songs! He took me to restaurants that had my favorite foods, sent surprise gifts in the mail, etc. My circle of friends & I are all dating to various degrees and they are all experiencing the same….they are each being courted (all 6 women) but respectful & pursuant men! Maybe you need to broaden your dating search or send a prayer up to God for these men to reveal themselves to you because there are so many of them out there! I find this is the most ‘courting culture’ of our time!
    Kelly

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to both read my article and leave a comment! I’m happy to hear that your experience with dating has been so great, I definitely don’t believe that all relationships are “digitized” in today’s culture, and it seems that your group of friends are proof. It is always nice to hear stories of women who have found some of the great gents.
      Thanks again for sharing your story!
      Hannah

    2. Thanks so much for your kind words! Dating is a tricky dance and can so often leave us feeling cynical (glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!). I couldn’t agree more that it’s the perfect time to practice cultivating healthy relationship habits, definitely on my goals for 2016.

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