Frederica: We’re at Five Guys Burgers, which is where you get the best burgers in Baltimore, and everybody is chowing down except me, because I came late, so mine is still on order. These are some pretty hefty burgers. They just opened one of these in Pasadena—I got the word from the end of the table. Our Pasadena. Pasadena, Maryland. And Jocelyn sent me something she’d written earlier today about dating, about ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye,’ versus ‘I Gave Dating a Chance,’ and the idea that people should just do courtship. And you’d read an article by somebody who said he’s very much in favor of courtship, but the problem is when people meet for the first time, they want to get to know each other. They’re not ready to jump into courtship. So his solution was parents should absolutely control every moment of their children’s lives, and children should know that their parents are going to choose their mate when they’re grown up. They will have no choice whatsoever. I don’t think that’s completely feasible [laughter] but it does show that even for people who are kind of opposed to the dating whirl, what’s the alternative? So, what do you think? Jocelyn? My daughter-in-law Jocelyn, married to my handsome son Steve. Did you and Steve date?
Jocelyn: Yes, and that’s where my reservations come in, because I found the man of my dreams without my parents’ approval, and –
Steve: I’d like to meet him!
Jocelyn: -and without actually asking them if I could even date, really.
Frederica: So you hadn’t really dated before you started college?
Jocelyn: Well, no. Because I considered dating in high school a waste of time. If I wasn’t ready to be married – my parents had basically taught me that if I wasn’t ready to be married, why am I looking? And so that made a really huge impression me because if I wasn’t ready to be married, anything else was really just fooling around. So I just tried my best to avoid all of the drama, I mean, I had plenty of infatuations in high school, and plenty of guys I was interested in, but –
Frederica: I’m sure you saw a lot of your friends going through crazy ups and downs that didn’t actually lead anywhere, so it’s good to be spared that. What do you think? You’re pregnant now; you’re going to have your first baby around Thanksgiving, and when you think ahead…Do you want to think for a minute, do you want me to make Stephen talk? Stephen, say something. Oh, he’s kind of going “mmmmm-mmmm.” He’s really chomping down.
[Laughter and the sounds of Steve speaking unintelligibly with his mouth full]
Frederica: You married him for his manners, right? [Laughter] Do you have opinions about dating versus courtship?
Steve: I feel like maybe the terms need to be better defined, or maybe I just don’t have a good concept of what are the differences in the terms.
Frederica: I guess courtship means—what does it mean? It means that you don’t start seeing somebody until you know you’re ready to consider them for marriage. So it’s like, you start at a more intense point. But I guess in order to do that you have to do a lot of hanging out and being in large groups and you know, boys and girls together. And I’m sure affections and infatuations keep happening, so what’s the difference?
Steve: Well, now that you put it that way, I’d have to say that if that’s how you define courting, then I guess I was courting in high school. Because I only had a couple of serious relationships before I met Jocelyn, so all of them were myself with the intent of is this person a good –
Frederica: There was Sarah and then there was Sarah 2.0. Neither of them worked out. God was saving you for Jocelyn.
Steve: Right. That’s very clear to me now. I can’t imagine being with anyone else. And that was pretty clear to me pretty soon after we started dating too.
Frederica: I think pretty soon after you met her, actually.
Steve: I’m sorry, I mean after we started courting.
Frederica: It seems like these terms do just keep going in circles, don’t they?
Steve: I see what you’re saying and that makes sense to me, but you have to remember that people who are sexually active outside of marriage use the same logic with sex. They say, ‘How do you know if you want to marry this person if you haven’t had sex with them?’
Megan: Yeah, but that’s so different, I think. I don’t think that that’s really, I mean, you have to be emotionally involved to know if you’re going to be married. I think that sex, you can deal with that, it’s just one small part of it, but so much of marriage is the emotional –
Jocelyn: Well, maybe what she meant by emotionally involved, is, I dunno, there’s emotional involvement and then there’s emotional involvement. And I remember the emotional involvement that I saw in high school was, you revolved around the one person. And it was like, you were facing each other and literally the whole world is spinning around you and there’s nothing and everything’s a blur. And when you end up breaking up with the person, the world around you has kind of fallen apart a little bit.
Frederica: And that can happen if you are courting too. There doesn’t seem to be – I don’t really see a solution here. It’s like the terms are fuzzy.
Frederica: Because if courtship is supposed to be what you are going through before you decide you’re ready to get married, isn’t that the same thing as dating? I think we’ve kind of talked ourselves into a cloverleaf or something and we just keep going around and around. Conclusion?
Jocelyn: The whole point of what I was writing to Frederica earlier today was more – I was saying that the problem isn’t necessarily with dating. I mean certainly you can fall into pitfalls romantically with people, but that the problems exist in kind of an overemphasis on romanticism and in just too much indecision. I mean, the author that I was responding to said something about extended adolescence and I think that that’s an extremely difficult thing, I mean; people are encouraged not to settle down or not to let anything cage them. And marriage can be a little constricting. You’re picking one person. So people aren’t practiced in making up their minds, and they’re also not practiced in having a relationship that’s equally balanced in terms of rationality and a teamwork thing. So the problems are in the culture itself, not necessarily in the finding people.
Frederica: Yeah, so it’s not necessarily dating or courtship; it’s the fact that people are encouraged to be adolescent until 30, to keep putting off decision-making, to keep waiting for something more perfect to come along, and to base everything on what is sometimes fleeting emotion. So you just feel like that point at which he’d identified the problem is not really where the problem is.
Frederica: Well, hopefully everything will be better by the time your daughter is 16. [Laughter]
Jocelyn: We’ll see about that.