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This Is Why You're So Frustrated With Dating

Let's discuss the difference between dating and courting, shall we?

Dating

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.

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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 intention and 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.

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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

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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