I wouldn't be surprised in the least if when the word "courting" comes to your mind, the word that immediately follows is "old-fashioned". I mean, for better or for worse (pun intended and you'll see why in just a bit), it was the word that our grandparents used more than our parents; it was probably something we heard in church much more than in college too (shoot, people barely date in college but…I digress).
When I personally think of courting, the first thing that comes to mind is fine Michael Landon playing Charles Ingalls in The Little House on the Prairie. Whenever a young man wanted to spend time with one of his daughters beyond an annual church dance or something, he couldn't do it unless he was interested in courting Mary or Laura. That meant he had to be interested in the girl to the point of not only considering marriage but preparing for it as well.
Although that frame of mind might seem over the top and even a little antiquated, if you go to Google and put "dating vs. courting" in the search engine, everything from religious sites to online dating sites to (get this!) even sugar daddy sites are basically gonna cosign on where the show—and grandma and church—were coming from.
As I revisited all of this a few days ago, not only did it get me to thinking that it's probably a good idea to break down what dating looks like vs. what courting looks like, it also crossed my mind that perhaps a part of the reason why some of us get so frustrated with the dating scene is because we think that dating and courting are synonymous and/or we're dating when actually what we wish we were doing was courting. Here's why I say that.
What Dating Someone Actually Means. Revisited.
I'll never forget meeting up with a particular guy for dinner. There was a mutual attraction and playful banter—which is usually a cryptic form of mental foreplay, no doubt—between us. I'd be lying if I said that there weren't certain parts of him that I liked. BUT I also knew that he was a chronic commitment-phobe; to a certain degree, even a self-professed one. Yet it wasn't until we got into a conversation about how the word on the street was that he took "gettin' around" to new highs and lows, that he said something that also revealed he's a closet narcissist too.
Me: "What is it with you and so many women?"
Him: "When I'm in a relationship, I'm in it. But right now, I'm dating."
Me: "Oh? You're dating someone? You should've told me that."
Him (and this is where it gets good): "Why? I'm dating you too."
Me, as I waited for him to crack a smile to show that he's playing: "Ohh…I didn't know we were dating."
Him: "I'm dating all of y'all." He was dead serious.
Maybe it's just me, but I always thought that actual dating was like healthy sex in the sense that it had to be something both people agreed upon.
I mean, if a random person walked up and asked me if he and I were dating, the answer would be "no". To me, just because there was an attraction, there still had to be some sort of intentionand motivation behind spending time together. Honestly, for me, we were mad cool, my birthday had just past and he asked if I wanted to go to dinner. I knew how he got down around town, so it was more like buddies with a mutual attraction hanging out than an actual date. So, what do I consider a date to be? Although it's nowhere near as serious as courting (nor should it be), in my opinion, dating should be about two people who have an interest in each other deciding to spend time quality time together to see if things can grow into something more—like possibly courting—someday.
Two friends catching a movie are not dating; the motive is to not see a movie alone, not to bond (a movie is a pretty crappy first, second or third date, by the way. How much talking can you do in there without coming off as being straight-up rude?). Two folks who hook up solely to hook up aren't dating either; usually all they want to do is "get theirs" and then get on to something else (which is why "Netflix and Chill" always was and always will be highly suspect on the dating tip).
Come to think of it, this is why I'm not big on the term "casual dating" (and I really dislike the term "casual sex"). When you do something casually, it has no aim or purpose. Dating is supposed to have a goal in mind—again, getting to know someone so that you can see if there is a potential relationship brewing. Anything short of that deserves a different term like "hanging out" or something along those lines.
In short, dating is like a precursor to courting. And if all goes well, then courting (which is a precursor to engagement) transpires.
What Courting Someone Actually Means. Revisited.
One of my favorite quotes by Bob Marley is one that will preach about a billion sermons—"The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her." A coward is someone who lacks courage and is easily intimidated. And yes, if a man is dating a woman for a long period of time, it requires quite a bit of courage to initiate taking things to the next level.
Any man who does this? I applaud him. He gets a standing ovation, actually. It can be tempting to just hover in the space of dating for years on end. You must be non-intimidated by the thought of being in a long-term commitment in order to partake in one.
That said, I personally find courting to be a word that is a much sweeter and mature word than dating. It sounds like it has more intent, that it's more of an agreement that two people are spending time together with sharing the futures together in mind.
When courting is taking place, going on dates isn't just about doing something together but participating in things that will help both individuals to get to know one another better. Friends and families are brought into the picture so that both people can gain an "outside perspective". Relationship plans are made and relationship goals are discussed. Holidays and other special days are spent together. Emotionally and spiritual bonding become top priorities. Sometimes, even counseling transpires. (Sidenote: I think it's wiser to go to couples counseling before getting engaged so you can see if it's wise to get engaged in the first place. If you wait until after the ring is on your finger, you might treat therapy as nothing more than a mere formality. You know, something to check off of your wedding planning to-do list.)
To me, courting really is about both people seeing if the love they have for each other is able to evolve into an engagement.
The reason why this is important to keep in mind is a lot of people confuse courtship with chivalry. A man coming to your door rather than honking the horn, a man calling instead of texting you, a man planning a date ahead of time instead of just winging it whenever he sees you—he's not courting you. He's being a gentleman. You should expect this even when you're "just dating" someone.
If he's courting you, you don't have to wonder where you stand. He has plans for you—long-term plans. Wanting a wife is on his radar.
This really could be—and probably needs to be—a seminar. Again, old-fashioned dating is chivalrous, it's not exactly courtship. Date then court. Court then get engaged. The good news is now that the differences have been shared, you can know if what you're doing with someone is A) hanging out; B) dating with a purpose or C) expiration dating. And with this knowledge, you can act accordingly.
If you want to date-to-court, is that what's transpiring? If not, you know what to do…now. No apologies needed.
Bottom line, if you want to date, date. But if you truly want to be court, be courted. You deserve it. You really do.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Nazanin Mandi is never out of options.
About a year ago, the 37-year-old life coach and actress was navigating life after divorce and determined to experience homeownership for the first time as a single woman. She’d been married to the R&B singer Miguel for three years, following a long-term relationship that started when she was 18 years old. But, in 2022, she filed for divorce. It was certainly the most public change she made but, in reality, it was just one of many decisions to refocus and reach her full potential in recent years.
“During my 20s, I was not ready for more. I was living a really crazy life. It was unpredictable. I was helping somebody else grow. It was a lot, and it was intense. I was not pouring into myself the way I should’ve been,” she says in an xoNecole exclusive.
Still, as Mandi worked to get to know herself and her needs during this new phase of life, she realized the home she’d purchased wasn’t a good fit. Overwhelmed by the echoing of her voice in the spacious home, she had a breakdown and called her cousin, who immediately suggested she lease the home and live somewhere else. “I woke up in my house, and I was like, ‘This is not it for me,” she says. “All those years, I had been accustomed to living a certain way [and] in a certain house, so I bought myself a house like [my old home]. But my family was not the same. Waking up in that house by myself, it highlighted the divorce. I was like, ‘Oh, no, we can’t do this. This is not it.’ My life has changed, so my choices need to change.” At that moment, Mandi became open to the idea that there wasn’t one set way to achieve ownership on her own.
“I feel so much better. I’m in a smaller place. My best friend lives a minute from me and I can walk to her house,” she tells me during a Zoom interview from her home one recent afternoon in early February. In the past two years, she hasn’t just been advising other people on varying circumstances, she’s also been healing herself.
"During my 20s, I was not ready for more. I was living a really crazy life. It was unpredictable. I was helping somebody else grow. It was a lot, and it was intense. I was not pouring into myself the way I should’ve been."
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
If supporters began following Nazanin Mandi because of her conventional beauty or the contagious, bright, white smile she often wears in many of her photos, that’s likely not the reason they’ve stuck around. Instead, she’s amassed a following based on her transparency about her own anxiety and depression, along with the encouraging messages of self-acceptance, gratitude, ambition, and humility that are often sprinkled into her social media posts.
In an era where looking at Instagram photos of models can often lead to feelings of self-doubt and insecurity, Nazanin Mandi is determined to be more than eye candy. She’s food for her follower’s souls, too.
Since being recruited to model while dining at an In-N-Out at 10 years old, Mandi has worked in many areas of entertainment. The Valencia, California native has modeled for brands such as Olay, Savage X Fenty, and Good American. As a teen, she sang at Carnegie Hall and auditioned for season 1 of American Idol, making it all the way to Hollywood before producers disqualified her for lying about her age. (Mandi was 15 at the time, and contestants had to be at least 16 years old.) Mandi has acted, too, including appearing on Disney’s That’s So Raven as a teenager and on the BET+ series Games People Play and the Prime series Á La Carte in more recent years.
In recent years, though, she’s also expanded her professional goals outside of entertainment, too. After becoming a certified life coach in 2020, Mandi launched the membership platform You Bloome in 2022 with the hopes of providing wellness services to others, including her self-published gratitude journal. “I wish I had access to something like You Bloome earlier in my own life,” she writes on the company’s website. The actress, who has been forthcoming about her struggles with anxiety and depression, has never had a life coach, but credits therapy as a tool that “really, really saved me and it laid the foundation to who I am becoming.”
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
"I’m trying to find the balance between living life and knowing that whatever is meant for me is going to happen, but also know that I’m doing everything in my power to make those things happen and better myself."
While she’s always had a nurturing personality, Mandi says her interest in becoming a life coach was inspired by the women who would message her for advice on social media. “I would answer them back. It really sparked a fire within myself to help people,” she says.
You Bloome currently has three membership tiers, ranging in price from $2.99 to $39.99 per month. The highest tier offers a motivational text message twice a week, two live, group coaching sessions per month, and more. “We get emotional. We cry. We laugh. It’s really beautiful. I’ve built close relationships with my members through this. It’s been inspiring both ways,” Mandi says of the sessions. Still, the founder says she hopes to take on more motivational and keynote speaking opportunities in the future with the hopes of impacting as many people as possible.
And, she’s hoping to do all of this while continuing to explore a career as an entertainer.
At this point in her life, Mandi says she’s gained enough perspective on modeling, music, and acting to realize what she wants to prioritize moving forward. “We are going full force with acting,” she says, noting her goal is “to book a series regular or a film that impacts my career and the world.” She plans to continue to model, too, but has no desire to pursue music.
“I don’t want any part of that because I know what that life entails,” she says. “I don’t want to tour. I don’t want to do any of that. That is not where my heart is at.”
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
If you ask Mandi, she’ll tell you she feels most comfortable in front of a camera, but she’ll also admit that she’s recently experienced a lot of imposter syndrome when thinking about her acting career. “I think it’s a fear of not succeeding,” she says. If anything, she adds, she’s harder on herself now than she’s ever been. “There were distractions before. There’s no distractions now,” she says. “I’m putting pressure on myself for no reason.”
This is where the life coach’s own personal healing comes into play. Mandi says she’s learning recently that “slow progress is still big progress at the end of the day.”
“Currently, I’m trying to find the balance between living life and knowing that whatever is meant for me is going to happen, but also know that I’m doing everything in my power to make those things happen and better myself,” she adds.
Still, one of Mandi’s strengths is that she doesn’t feel the pressure to limit herself to just one passion. From working as a life coach to pursuing acting, she has given herself grace to explore all other dreams.
“We can be allowed to be many different things in this lifetime,” she says. “As people, our identities are allowed to expand. Don’t put us in a fucking box. I cannot live that way anymore.”
For more of Nazanin, follow her on Instagram @nazaninmandi.
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Featured image by Solmaz Saberi
It's no secret that the dating scene is different from our parents' generation, so as a hopeful romantic, many parts of me feel like I was born in the wrong lifetime. My mother often says that she feels like my husband will be a bit older than me; perhaps that was her way of telling me that she hopes I find someone more mature. But these days, between the countless podcasts debating gender roles and discussions online of who brings what to the table, finding your person can feel hopeless.
Still, people are finding love every day, so how can we go from being amongst the brokenhearted and nonbelievers? How can we get to the meat of what our needs truly are to find the love we've been searching for? Beverley Andre, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist says that the key is getting out of your own way.
Q: How can we get in our own way when it comes to relationships?
A: We get in our own way in relationships by having rigid expectations that make it difficult or impossible for someone to meet. I know this is a hot topic regarding having and maintaining standards, but there’s a fine line between reasonable expectations and creating a barrier that is nearly impossible to break through.
You have to assess the standards and see if they are genuinely in protection of you and maintain the standard of how you want to be treated, or are the standards fueled by fear and what you're really trying to do is avoid feeling hurt and disappointed, so you create this cycle where you set impossible standards that no one can meet, therefore limiting the possibility of close intimate relationships, leaving you feeling lonely and frustrated.
Q: In this dating age and era, how can we determine what our needs are versus our wants?
A: Your needs are tied to the core values and belief systems, while the wants are personality and lifestyle considerations, so I recommend creating a list of both. Identify your core values early on because those are your principles and qualities that matter most to you in a relationship. Those values are fundamental to your overall well-being. For example, do you want to be with someone who wants children, has integrity, and aligns on finances? Your values should be your deal-breakers that weed out people who are not in alignment.
For wants, think of physical, personality, and lifestyle traits that aren’t necessarily deal-breakers, aren’t tied to someone’s core traits, and don’t compromise your mental wellness. For instance, enjoying 100% of the same interests, specific physical attributes, and shared cultural background. As an extra measure, I recommend discussing your needs and wants with a trusted inner circle and getting their feedback. An inner circle should give you fair feedback instead of just agreeing with it because they’re within the inner circle.
"Your needs are tied to the core values and belief systems, while the wants are personality and lifestyle considerations."
Q: Are there fundamental needs that everyone should have or has on some level in romantic partnerships?
A: Yes, to be seen and heard. No one wants to be in a romantic partnership where they feel invisible, and their needs are met with consistent resistance just because it’s different from their partner. One of the core issues I see with couples is their inability to make space for their partner’s voice and influence. They find it difficult to see the value in what their partner is saying, especially if it contradicts their thoughts and opinions. Therefore, they register it as not being good enough and lacking merit and then get into a cycle where they inadvertently want their partner to change their minds and prove to them why they have a point.
Q: What are different examples of needs that everyone has?
Q: How can we get to the meat of what our needs are so we can in turn get better at communicating what our needs are from an empowered place versus a disempowered one?
A: Identify your unmet childhood needs and heal them. I often see people trying to heal these wounds in relationships with people who aren’t responsible for creating them or fixing them. You can communicate your needs from an empowered and healthy place if you’re not starving. Getting to the meat of your needs will require self-exploration, curiosity, and patience to understand why the need is even a need.
"Identify your unmet childhood needs and heal them. You can communicate your needs from an empowered and healthy place if you’re not starving."
Q: What do you find your clients who are succeeding in relationships have done differently in explaining their needs to their partner?
A: They have done the self-work and healing to know their needs through individual and/or couple’s therapy. Most of the clients I’ve worked with never had the space to develop their thoughts around their needs. They’ve adopted their needs based on what they’ve seen in their personal lives from family growing up, movies, and now social media. Until you have a healthy relationship with yourself, where you’ve identified your needs and are meeting them, it isn’t easy to have that with someone else. You can’t communicate and give what you don’t know and have.
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