Posted in The Publications

Courtship; a study in the history of romance


I went to university from the years of 2009 till 2014, and throughout that entire experience “romantic relationships” seemed to form very sporadically among my acquaintances. The phenomenon known as “hooking up” always struck me as foreign, at least from my own understanding. A visceral desire to be intimate with someone without having gotten to know that person strikes me as a very strange approach to interpersonal relationships. From what I was able to observe, hook ups can happen at a party where conversations are near impossible to hold because of blaring music or absurd amounts of inebriation, which leads me to believe that its driven by something visceral. Weather by pure physical attraction, influence of alcohol, or some combination of the two I could otherwise not understand this occurrence (though I do not judge). These hookups may lead to an emotionally bonded relationship, and can even flourish into a strong long-term relationship, but this style of initiating a relationship has never appealed to me personally.

Another situation I have seen arise is the friendship (for a short period) into hookup relationship, also known as the path of no return. Not to say that this sort of start to a physically intimate relationship cannot be successful in certain cases, but there are complications that could easily arise that challenge the friendship aspect especially in situations where either party engages in further hooking up and or lack communicative skills. This is something we see happen in the romantic comedy de jour, and has some similarities to the kind of relationship that is an ideal for many of my closest friends and myself personally, friendship into courtship.

My first ever relationship began when I had realized hat I felt a particular void in my emotional state for the previous few days, what had brought this about? A female friend of mine had been away for a few days, and I genuinely (as genuinely as is possible for a teenager) missed them. This drove me to communicate with her how I felt about her absence, and that was the start of a courtship, that began with getting to know them in a non-sexualized, personality and interest focused relationship. In my limited understanding of relationships I found this kind of relationship, and thusly courtship (in the sense of spending months, or years getting to know someone before the suggestion of romance) was particularly powerful, and most importantly meaningful. This seems to me an under appreciated, and timeless style of relationship.

Ultimately relationships and how they come to be is up to the actors of the relationship, modern relationships can be very successful, but I believe that there are lessons to be learned from traditional values in nurturing and growing a long lasting and loving relationship.

*Historically courtships began as buissnes arrangements, which is an important element of any relationship because especially in the modern age both members of a couple normally have to maintain a full time job to support an average household, and an imbalance in that aspect of a relationship can cause turbulince for any couple (unless one of the members of a pairing are wealthy  and prefer their mate not work, in which case a power imbalance may occur).
Chivalry is another element of courtship that I feel is under appriciated, *”From buying a woman dinner to opening a door for her, many of today’s courting rituals are rooted in medieval chivalry”, as a stark contrast to modern relationships, “Chastity and honor were highly regarded virtues”. This is not to say modern sexuality and romantic ideas don’t have their own logic, but this is a highly underrated aspect of relationships, the phase of courtship that is about knowing tour partner as an individual and not in a sexualized way(life expectancies are much longer than the Medieval era). Entering the victorian era romance became essential to marriage as an institution; “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.”

After my observations, and some research I have come to a consensus of sorts, courtship has changed over time, and I feel as if  each period teaches us a lesson about love, and how to raise a family, what elements can be, and ought to be utilized to lay the foundation to a long lasting relationship, and to hopefully leave behind a legacy of love and harmony for the next generation. There is an over emphasis in the modern approach to courtship on the physical aspects of love and not enough exploration into emotional aspects of relationships. While both are important elements to any relationships it has always been my personal feeling that the emotional and intellectual connection in a relationship always precedes the physical elements, not taking importance away from the physical elements of a relationship, but should be sought and nurtured first and foremost.


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