Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dating and Courtship, Part III

In the fall of my sophomore year, I met a charming fellow at an inter-collegiate square dance. He took me out to dinner a month later, then moved out of state. I guess dinner was worse than I thought. :-) Since he was out of state and we hardly knew each other, we didn't pursue any kind of relationship beyond friendship. In fact, you may recall I was dating someone else at the end of sophomore year.

Although the hero of today's story was clear that he was not looking to date me, he was also quite clear that things would have gone much differently if he had remained at a local college. Over the course of a year, our friendship grew and deepened into a most unique relationship. We were best friends, confidants, sources of mutual encouragement, and debate partners, as we sat at opposite ends of the political spectrum and lived out our Christianity in very different ways.

This was the time when AIM ruled supreme as the form of Internet communication. We messaged at least a few times a week and, by fall of junior year, eventually began to have regular phone calls as well. About this time, we started to wonder if maybe we were being called into marriage.

What? says the reader Did I miss something?

This, I guess, is the way of courtship. We began as friends and the friendship was changing, becoming a central relationship in our lives. So we began to pray. We continued to talk as often as we could and started many conversations with, "Hear anything from God yet?" We made plans for him to join my family for Thanksgiving, which would be the third time I would actually see him face-to-face. If we hadn't heard otherwise by that point, he would ask my Dad for permission to formally court me with the intention to marry.

We did hear otherwise. Both of us individually were given a glimpse into our future together, a future in which my Catholic faith and his Protestant faith would constantly put us at odds and leave us both unhappy. By this point, the tickets were bought, though, so he came anyway. The weekend was wonderful, time spent with a cherished friend who I knew without a doubt treasured me as well.

We also attended a family friend's wedding that weekend.
My friend Elissa as a lovely bridesmaid!

I haven't seen him since he got on the plane to go home. Our friendship slowly became more casual again and ultimately faded into annual Christmas cards and the occasional email. We are both now happily married and so grateful that God had chosen us for our spouses rather than for each other.

This relationship ended as it had begun, with mutual respect and, over all, a desire to do God's will. I attribute this in part to its goal being courtship instead of dating, but I'm not sure it is that simple. If my dating relationships had been so God-centered and thoughtful, instead of beginning with "just" mutual admiration, perhaps they too would have ended without pain.

Final installment tomorrow: My concerns about traditional courtship


  1. I'm very much enjoying your look at dating and courtship.

    My husband and I never really dated before we married. We spent hours and hours talking about ethics and religion and philosophy, and politics, and every imaginable topic that people clash over. We found that we were amazingly compatible in spite of a couple of significant differences in perspective because we came to the same point in application where in practice we agree completely even though we don't always agree on WHY. It helped that we also came together as older adults. We didn't waste time focusing on the chemistry-- it was noted as being there, but it was not what we both wanted to know about each other. Chemistry comes cheap, its the rest of the story that is so difficult to discover.

    I'm looking forward to reading your next installment.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story! I'm glad you're enjoying this series.