Ok, as promised... the difference in dating and "courting." Yes, courting is a very old-fashioned word, and if you tell people that you're courting you're almost guaranteed to get a funny look, if not a "...what?" But I think it's very important to really think about the difference between the two and consider what that means in your own relationship. Even if you aren't currently in a relationship, understanding the difference between the two is beneficial because it will raise your standards for the kind of relationships you have in the future.
Everyone knows about the kinds of "boyfriends" you have in middle and high school. The kind that you might see each other at school but not really any other time. The kind that you talk to on the phone, but never really about much other than school and your friends that you most likely won't even talk to anymore by the time you're settled in college. The kind that at the time being, you honestly think you can't live without. Yeah.... right.
Everyone also knows about the kinds of "boyfriends" you have, perhaps towards the end of high school or early in college. The kind that is fun and always shows you a good time, but you know in your heart that the chances of it actually going anywhere are slim to none. The kind that you just want to keep around to have someone to talk to, someone to go out and have a good time with, and someone so that you aren't alone. That raises a whole nother question... why are we SO afraid to be alone?
Well... that is part of the difference between dating and courting. It's simple, really: dating is recreational and courting is intentional. Sometimes it takes learning to be happy by yourself for you to fully understand not only the difference between but the importance in the difference in dating vs. courting. At least, that's what it took for me. I had so many little boyfriends, I always had a good time, I was constantly entertained and spoiled... but I didn't know how to be alone. I didn't really know who I was, more less the kind of relationship I needed. Not wanted... needed.
That's when you learn what it really means to "dance with God and trust that He'll let the perfect man cut in."
When you are ready for courtship, your standard for a relationship changes. It's no longer about having a "type," because that doesn't matter- all that matters is that you fit together and balance each other out. It's no longer about what anybody thinks, because you know it's right and can't explain it. It's no longer about being with someone to be happy, because you care more about their happiness than your own. It's no longer about needing someone, because you know you only truly need Christ, but you're thankful for the gift He's given you in the form of earthly companionship. It's no longer about any of the little petty things that have consumed the trivial relationships of your past. When you get in arguments, the question becomes "what can we do to fix this?" instead of "oh my gosh, are we going to break up?" Courtship focuses on the long-term while dating is all about right now.
Courtship is intentional in the sense that it should only lead to a deeper, more passionate, more intimate relationship (in God's timing, of course). Don't "settle down" if you have to settle, because the Lord promises in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a plan for your life and rest assured- He has just the right person out there for you. Start praying for your future husband now, don't wait. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with dating and having fun (and trust me, courting is even more fun), but it's important to recognize the difference and be intentional with your relationships and guard your heart (Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23).