With the advent of new technologies (cell phones, social media, Tinder, etc.) and the changing definitions of traditional dating and families, modern dating is a more fluid and self-interpreted concept, very different from the relational context of the past.It is important to note that historically many of these mainstream rituals were strictly confined to heterosexual dating.
Marriage during this time was less a public declaration of mutual affection and more an essential means of legally exchanging property between families.
Courtship was the ritual that would allow the families to evaluate potential matches and determine if the arrangement would be advantageous.
Women especially were impeded by the law, which still did not acknowledge them as capable of claiming possession of property or monetary assets.
This courtship style was originally associated with less affluent youth without access to the resources or attractive homes needed to entertain.
Rather, love was regarded as the product of a constructed arrangement, eventually achieved by couples with aligned resources and values.
This tradition of parental oversight was legitimized by the law, which held that guardians were permitted and expected to organize the transition of their child into a legal marriage.
During the courtship process, it was typical for the intended couples to divulge their perceived character flaws to ensure that a long-term commitment would be logical and feasible.
This ritual may seem overly cautious, but in a society in which the Catholic Church was an incredibly powerful institution that prescribed marriage as an integral part of God’s plan, this was not a decision that could be made lightly.
Additionally, the many legal and social barriers surrounding divorce increased the pressure to ensure that a match was suitable.
Separation was often only granted on grounds of bigamy, impotence, or adultery.
Due to this connection with the lower class, the practice was initially mistrusted by parents, but dating quickly replaced calling as the favored model of romance.