Dating in 1920 vs. 2020: How things have changed

The male and female were not allowed to get too close during the courting stage in the 1920s.

Have you ever stopped to think what dating was like, say 100 years ago? First of all, it was not called dating, it was referred to as ‘courting’, and it was not about exploring your options and trying on people for size to see if they fit or suits you. Nope, it was about learning if the person was marriage material. The only aim of courtship was marriage, nothing less.

Strict rules

Most of us know what dating is because we have done it, but what in a nutshell is courting? For the uninitiated, courtship occurs when two people meet but there is little to no physical contact (no touching and definitely no kissing) until marriage. Hugs are sometimes facilitated but are given sideways so that there is no full-frontal contact that can lead to arousal in any way or form.

Many in courtship cannot spend any time together unless a family member, such as an aunt, or older married sister, is present at all times to act as a chaperone to ensure that the rules are strictly adhered to because if they are not, the girl can be ‘compromised’ which means she did things that could make her no longer a virgin. Therefore, at the root of it all is the preservation of her ‘innocence’ or virginity.

Kisses were not allowed during the courting stage back in the 1920s.

Pressures of physical intimacy

Many people scoff at courting and think it is super outdated, but courtship allowed couples to get to know each other on a more structured and platonic basis without the pressures of physical intimacy or emotions clouding their perspective. It began when a man, usually a young one, goes to the girl’s family home and asks to see her father or older male relative. He has to go to the parent or authority figure first to state what his intention is toward the daughter and also share how he is going to providing for her economically. This was huge because a man who had no job and just ‘kotched’ with his friends would not dare step to a girl’s father to ask for her hand in marriage. Pops would have probably hit him with a mop stick and usher him out of the yard!

So then, daddy either gives his approval or he does not. If he does, therein begins a long journey wherein he comes to the home to ‘court’ his intended. They have to sit in full view of others and are not allowed to be alone together. After a while, hand-holding may be permitted, but kisses were something you stole when no one was looking. Test driving the merchandise before marriage was unheard of, so yes, everyone bought the ‘puss in a bag’ and just learned to make it work.