Written by Nathan White of Edmonton, AB

Who “courts”? What does that even mean? Isn’t that what your grandparents call dating? Is courting different than dating? Check out what these two words mean according to Google Dictionary.

Courting: To be involved with romantically, typically with the intention of marrying.

Dating: To go out with (someone in whom one is romantically or sexually interested)

They are kind of the same, but very different also. My wife and I never said we were courting, we said we were dating, but the difference is that we established before anything began that our intentions were to get married.

I don’t care what you call it as long as you have the right intentions. I’ve seen a lot of teenagers (and I’ll be honest, adults too) use the term courting as a way to try to trick others and themselves into believing that the intentions are good with their significant other.

Sadly, in the world today there are lots of broken hearts from dysfunctional relationships, and from what I can see, this is because we as a society have forgotten the point of relationships. There should be a reason behind everything we do, and if we just coast through relationship after relationship with no real purpose as to why we are even in it, then why would we be surprised when it all goes up in flames?

Ultimately, marriage is supposed to be about true love. Marriage emulates the love that Jesus has for the church. When we date people, we usually find things that upset us, or they do something that is wrong and we decide it’s too hard or painful to forgive them. We cut our losses and move onto the next person or relationship.

Habits like this can hurt us, because if you find that person who is perfect for you, likes all the right things, takes the best selfies you’ve ever seen, you might get married just to find out that they don’t always look Instagram-ready. They might have some weird quirks that you didn’t know about. Having illusions might make you be more inclined to think about it being time to move onto whatever is next.

Dating? Courting? When should you do it? You and your potential boyfriend or girlfriend first need to establish where the relationship is going. What’s the goal? What’s the point? If it’s mutually agreed that you are seriously intending on getting married, if you can actually see that happening in the near future, and if your parents or mentors know and support you, and if, most of all, you have asked God what He thinks about this, then go for it.

But remember that what you eventually are trying to achieve is one of the biggest and most important decisions you will ever make after salvation. But if it’s just because you’re bored, lonely or you think they are really hot and you just can’t picture the next six months without them, take a step back and reflect. The choices we make affect the rest of our lives. Giving part of your heart to someone else is a big deal.

Whether you call it courting or dating, at the end of the day you should know your intentions and your #relationshipgoals (BTW your relationship goals should be bigger than taking attractive photos of each other doing super staged everyday activities, pretending like they were candid). Build good habits and strong foundations with your future spouse. Learn how to love, how to forgive and how to serve each other. And when you get married you will be miles ahead of many who started without knowing what was going on.

If you are not sure what steps to take to ensure you enter a healthy relationship, if you need help getting out of an unhealthy one, or need to talk to someone for more information on courting and dating, please speak to your youth pastor or young adults pastor at your church, or seek help or advice from someone in your church or family.