The Smart Single Woman: Courting Vs. Dating

Yes, there’s a difference.

By: Amanda Anderson

As I reflect on the majority of my failed attempts on love, I can’t help but notice an underlying similarity. Yes, I genuinely put my heart into those relationships and my hopes into longevity, but I’m not sure I took a long term approach to a potential long term commitment. You see, when we approach things that we hope to have for the long term, we treat it like an investment. We put in the time needed to establish a foundation, get to know the potential investment by doing the proper research, map out a plan, and take our time to distinguish if this opportunity is worth the hassle. And when the fruits of our groundwork shows that there is actually something to be gained from investing or that we will get what we put in and more…we buy some stock.

Many black women are creating lucrative businesses and investing in the right companies because we’ve done the proper research. But why is it that we don’t put that much work into our love lives?

Most of us do more research on our careers than the men that get into relationships with. And when that man produces no real benefits, we’re angry at the man instead of ourselves for our lack of…research.

As for me, I didn’t even let my investments mature before I started screaming love.
But back then, I approached the potential long terms like short terms. What looked good, wasn’t right. But if I had taken the proper time to get to know that particular person, just maybe I wouldn’t have invested at all. Unfortunately at that time, I like many women committed myself fully to an investment that would reap no kind of benefits. There’s no way I could even break even, but I still kept throwing more of myself and my value to a dead end venture. And we do this regularly and for the majority of our lives because we’re dating when we should be courting.
When it comes to love, we need to do more than window shop. The outside ain’t nearly as important as what’s on the inside, yet, that seems to be all the analyzing we do before we get into the relationship. The only thing most of us are concerned with is physical attraction, penis size, good sex, and hefty bank accounts. And that my dear is the product of dating…only analyzing temporary things and attempting to build an entire relationship off of the temporary. Can we be surprised that our relationships end up being temporary when we temporarily got to know someone?

Dating is the art of refusing to learn the essence of the person before committing to them. Isn’t it the core of the person that determines whether we can even be with someone long term? So why are ya’ll tripping over everything else except THAT?

Now before you say I’m coming down too hard on dating, think about what dating consists of. When a woman usually goes out on her third date, what are we thinking about doing after? Exactly. In dating, women are encouraged to begin a sexual relationship with a man she’s only known for a few weeks. Hell, even sexing on the first date is becoming more popular. So I ask, is this the way you want to meet Mr. Right, by treating him like Right Now?

Is a practice committed more to the short term the best way to the long term? It can’t possibly be.

I’ve done the whole dating thing, and when the man showed me his true self, you know the inner him, I realized that he had absolutely no character. Even though everything else was proper, he was completely raggedy and “undateable” on the inside. But despite that, I was still trying to make it work because the physical was so…good. But the inner him was impossible and I was miserable. Did I mention we were in a relationship before I figured out who he really was? 

And that’s the thing, why do we wait until we are in a relationship to get to know folks? I’ll tell you why…because dating says so. Yes, dating tells us to only take a few weeks or a month to label someone relationship worthy. It also tells us to get to know someone quickly off of meaningless attributes and then give them the benefits of marriage from those meaningless attributes. We’re sexing temporary dudes all because we had a few good dates. Once in the relationship, we’re no longer encouraged to keep building…and that’s because dating says so. We then take this same quickie mindset right into marriage, and now over half of the country can’t stay in a marriage to save their lives.

But let’s talk about courting. 

It’s an archaic word that our grandparents know too well, but what’s interesting is when people courted, they divorced less. And when I realized this, I knew I had to look into just what my grandparents’ generation did, and see just why I had no real success in relationships. For one thing, foundation was the most important thing in courtship, while it’s usually forgotten all together and not encouraged in dating. However, you can’t find a magazine that won’t give you 30 tips how to rock your man’s world in the bedroom. Sex is the core of dating, and society demonstrates that more and more as we continue to eliminate the practice of courtship–or setting a foundation before marriage.

My grandparents and their parents believed in just having a period of time when they got to know their love interest without the physical. Yes, they really got to know someone before they had sex, but we tend to have sex first and then learn who we’re sleeping with last.

Were our grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents sexual beings? Of course they were. But their mindset on sex, relationships, and marriage were completely different. They didn’t want to get into a marriage without a foundation, and they knew they couldn’t have a foundation if they didn’t properly establish one. And by properly, I don’t mean a few weeks of dating. And when you are courting, like they did, the building didn’t stop once they got in the relationship or committed. Why? Because that’s not how courting works. In courting, you never stop building or learning your partner until marriage. But now, we’re building and discovering once we get married, after playing married before the actual marriage. In reality, we’ve cheapened the value of marriage because we no longer practice courtship.

Now, I’m not saying all of this to totally behead the dating process, but I am saying that women who do want to get married shouldn’t be dating, they should be courting. Here’s the thing, no matter how much society has made a mockery out of marriage, marriage is still a big deal. It’s still important to God, and it’s not something we should just blindly walk into. Nor should we be so nonchalant with our relationships or our bodies, these things are the foundation to your marriage. If your relationship is on sand instead of rock, it will crumble.

So how do you court?

Courting is all about foundation. In courtship, it involves two people who are in favor of marriage. No, you cannot court a man who hates the concept of marriage. To do so, is a waste of your time. If a man has already expressed his lack of interest in marriage and you’re sure you want to be married, move on. 

You must also get the concept of dating out of your life. That means no more hopping into a relationship with a guy you’ve only been getting to know for a few weeks. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest reason is men are usually not their true selves in the first couple of months of meeting a woman. So there’s no need to get serious any earlier than about 3 to 4 months. You must see his true self before committing.

Women must also stop playing house. No man deserves husband treatment until he is your husband. Women wonder why it takes a man so many years to get married, well wouldn’t you also take your sweet time if most of the women you date willingly play wife? No benefits of marriage until marriage. Stop treating your sex so lightly.

Lastly, know that character is the most important component of a good man. He’s got to care about other people, if a man is showing you that he’s selfish; he’s also showing you that he’s neither courting, relationship, or marriage material. There’s no way a selfish person can love anyone but themselves.

I know many will still hold dating to a higher standard than it deserves, but at 25 years old, I’m finally courting…and I must say, this is the first healthy relationship I ever had. And we took our sweet time to get here. If we make it to the altar, our marriage’s foundation will be the equivalent to that of a rock. Steady and solid. And it’s all because we wanted more than dating and more than sex. And honestly, there’s no better way to true love than taking your sweet time to get there.

We take our sweet time and commit our work to our education, careers, and our finances; but it’s about time we invest blood, sweat and tears on something that was meant to be even more rewarding.

God bless.


  1. This article made me remember something I read recently: "Marriage vows say 'til death do us part' because that's usually how long it takes to get to know a person." Even well into marriage the learning process continues because as people we continue to evolve. Anyway, back on topic… I too was guilty of dating and all the aspects it contains and it wasn't until recently that I finally decided a different approach (courting) was necessary. I've found that it definitely separates the "haves" from the "have nots." Meaning either a man has it, or he doesn't. Love definitely does take time….Great article!

  2. "Marriage vows say 'til death do us part' because that's usually how long it takes to get to know a person."Hmm…that's a very interesting perspective. I'm not married yet, so I can't speak too much on marriage, but that quote is clear that marriage is an ongoing process. We may always have more to learn about our partners, but I definitely warn against people who rush getting into relationships. And that is dating. Glad to hear you're shifting gears though, I had to as well. I kept coming up short.Thanks for reading love.

  3. Courting is definitely the way we should seek relationships. The problem is that we have a completely different generation from when our grandparents and parents "courted." The new generation does not know how to "court" or better yet, what "courting is." And as far as investing, why are we (women), doing all the investing? When a man is interested you will know. Why make an investment, when you have already recognized signs of no returns. Just like the old folks say, "Why buy the cow, when you get the milk for free." He's not going to invest because he doesn't have to. He has nothing to work towards. Ladies stop giving up the goodies and expect to be "wifed up." The man is called to be the pursuer therefore, let him pursue you by courting you. Relationships based on sex will only get you so far. We have to know what we want and eliminate what we don't want, so when Mr. Right shows up, we'll know because he's going to invest. This will allow you to invest, which will lead to an abundance of returns.

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