Dating in days gone by was referred to as "courting". This originates from the period way back when a man would woo a girl and consider making her his wife. Before he could get to know her better he needed to gain the approval of the girl's Father. This required attending a "Court" - a hearing with the Father to seek his permission to go further with a relationship. Quite often the girl's Dad would want to know what the young man's intentions were, and more importantly, how well off he was financially.
Courting was the arranged period that a couple could see each other - for walks in the park, a visit to the cinema or theatre, or dinner with parents. It was intended to help a couple decide if they felt they wanted to be married. Courting was carried out in public places, and with the family approval. Sex before marriage was a strict taboo, and myths surrounding sex continued to control promiscuity.
In the 19th century there was a degree of etiquette involved in courtship. Singles would meet at social functions. A gentleman could speak to a woman only after he had been formally introduced. Subtle flirting might have followed, but in public gentlemen were gentlemen and ladies were ladies. A romp in the bedroom never took place, and the thought never entered their poor little heads (so we are to believe). In lower status families there was still a degree of coyness and control, but working class people often experienced the "unplanned pregnancy".
Courting in higher society was always supervised. A gentleman could call on the lady at home, but could not stay late or call without prior permission. When leaving, the gentleman would be shown out by a servant. Courting couples sometimes wrote letters and poems, and exchanged lockets, portraits and locks of hair.
These days things are different. Women can ask men out and do all the running. Sex often takes place after just a few dates. Both sexes are far more liberated and uninhibited. So if two consenting adults go for it, that's deemed to be OK.
However, many people - mainly females, but some males too, cling to the belief that relationships, dating or courting, and the rituals of courtship are very important. It's always best to get to know your intended mate well enough to decide how to move forward. Courtship rarely involved sex. Petting and arousal were often experienced. Kissing and Cuddling were OK.
If some of these simple values are important to you and your new "date", then the romantic and virtuous quality gained from the early stages of a relationship can be very satisfying. In fact, it generates mutual respect, a feeling of worth and importance, and relationships based on dignity, honesty, purity and romance often turn out to be rewarding, emotionally strong and highly charged.
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