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7.5.11

Passion & Purity - Dating Games

Where on earth did the torturous ritual of dating come from anyway? For me dating seems like a rather cruel way of finding love. You can’t do so many things but your hormones are raging and want to do it all! You have loads of protocol to follow but in essence all you can think about is getting married. Of course you can’t tell a guy that or he will run a mile... well some guys would and some guys wouldn’t. I have observed my daughter go through her first dating experience and I feel so sorry for her, it can be so confusing and so wonderful all at once.
As far as I can tell, in the Bible you only had betrothal and marriage. There was nothing in between to send you on an emotional roller coaster! That sounds kind of nice to me. You see someone you like; you watch them from a distance and perhaps become friends. When you think you want to spend the rest of your life with them you get betrothed for a year and then get married. Nice, clean and simple. No breaking up, making up and all the issues in between. I came across a great article by Kimberly Powell about the history of dating which I will share with you with her permission.

“Where would we be without romance? What was courtship and marriage like for our distant ancestors? Beginning with the ancient Greeks' recognition of the need to describe more than one kind of love, inventing the word "eros" to describe carnal love, and "agape" to mean a spiritual love, take a stroll back through romantic heritage with this timeline of romantic customs, dating rituals, and tokens of love.

Ancient Courtship

In ancient times, many of the first marriages were by capture, not choice - when there was a scarcity of nubile women, men raided other villages for wives. Frequently the tribe from which a warrior stole a bride would come looking for her, and it was necessary for the warrior and his new wife to go into hiding to avoid being discovered. According to an old French custom, as the moon went through all its phases the couple drank a brew called metheglin, which was made from honey. Hence, we get the word, honeymoon. Arranged marriages were the norm, primarily business relationships born out of the desire and/or need for property, monetary or political alliances.

Medieval Chivalry

From buying a woman dinner to opening a door for her, many of today's courting rituals are rooted in medieval chivalry. During medieval times, the importance of love in a relationship emerged as a reaction to arranged marriages, but was still not considered a prerequisite in matrimonial decisions. Suitors wooed their intended with serenades and flowery poetry, following the lead of lovelorn characters on stage and in verse. Chastity and honour were highly regarded virtues. In 1228, women first gained the right to propose marriage in Scotland, a legal right that then slowly spread through Europe.

Victorian Formality

During the Victorian Era (1837-1901), romantic love became viewed as the primary requirement for marriage and courting became even more formal - almost an art form among the upper classes. An interested gentleman could not simply walk up to a young lady and begin a conversation. Even after being introduced, it was still some time before it was considered appropriate for a man to speak to a lady or for a couple to be seen together. Once they had been formally introduced, if the gentleman wished to escort the lady home he would present his card to her. At the end of the evening the lady would look over her options and chose who would be her escort. She would notify the lucky gentleman by giving him her own card requesting that he escort her home. Almost all courting took place in the girl's home, always under the eye of watchful parents. If the courting progressed, the couple might advance to the front porch. Smitten couples rarely saw each other without the presence of a chaperone, and marriage proposals were frequently written.

The chapter on Dating Games continues in Passion & Purity which is already available on Amazon.com and available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk, more info on the book here.

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