Explaining courtship to young people

Living the phases of a courtship properly: knowing and valuing the other and adapting to my life in all senses, is key to not having "avoidable surprises" in marriage.

José María Contreras-February 14, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes

Preparing for an Olympics is a tough task for athletes. Undoubtedly, without preparation, there is no personal success.

This, which seems so obvious, is not lived in other more personal facets such as, for example, in courtship, which is, or should be, the preparation for marriage.

Marriage failures, which we often see in our society, are in many cases a consequence of not living the courtship. Something else is being lived, but courtship, which should be a time in which we get to know the other person, to know if I can share my life with him/her, courtship, as I said, is not lived as such.

Therefore, many marriages pass their courtship once married, and others fail because they did not have a courtship.

From an affective point of view, it could be said that a courtship has four parts: desire, attraction, falling in love and love; at the beginning, there is a desire to be with the other, it is a good time, time goes very fast, their presence is exciting.

Then, or together with the desire to be together, there is a phase of physical attraction, which makes everything very beautiful and attractive. There is an emotional overflow.

These two phases that have no solution of continuity conclude in a habitual way, in an infatuation, where everything of the other seems well. What he does and what he says. One is like in a cloud. The continuous presence that one has of the other person, even if one is not with him/her, is tremendously attractive. It is confused with love.

We think we are loving with intensity. It seems impossible that this is not love.

It has to be. The emotional attachment is very great, it seems unbelievable that I could have lived until now without this person. Life appears meaningless if she is not with me in the future. A attention deficitJulián Marías called falling in love.

We think we love each other very much, but the reality is that love has not yet appeared. It is a good start to begin to love, but loving - besides affections, emotions - implies wanting the good of the other, quoting Aristotle's definition of friendship. What is best for the other as a person.

Love implies that I will often have to make an effort to love, it no longer comes only in the form of a feeling, as it did before. When you become aware of it, you start to love. You begin to see that the other person has defects, does things that bother me. It is coming down from the cloud, to be with her, sometimes, I may not feel like it. She demands things from me that I don't want to give, she doesn't want to give me things that I would like her to give me.

One is beginning to realize that love is demanding. It goes to the movies when I don't feel like it and doesn't go to soccer when I would like to. The struggle to love begins. Feelings have descended to a state of normalcy. Desire, attraction and infatuation become more mature.

It is time to realize if this is the person you were looking for to share your life with.

If it is not, it will be necessary to leave it, even if the attachment has not disappeared and leaving it is costly.

If, in the midst of desire, attraction and falling in love, sexual intercourse has taken place, then it is much more difficult, especially for the woman. In a sexual relationship, the woman gives her heart before her body. Hence the difficulty. Nevertheless, if it is not what you were looking for, you have to leave that person.

That's what dating is for, to find the right person to share your life with.

The awareness that one should not have had sex appears on many occasions.

Also the impotence to stop. If the desire to not have sex is manifested, it is possible to break the relationship. This is a manifestation of being together only for sex. Since, if it disappears, it is possible that the relationship is over. It is a symptom that this relationship was united only by sex, if that were to happen. In other words, it is not a relationship of courtship, but of lovers who are united by sex. 

It is one of the great difficulties of confusing feelings, only feelings, with love.

The consequence of all this is to see a series of people with affective and sexual problems that, if they had known what each thing meant at each moment, would not have appeared.

Logically, the courtship would have been freer. And if in the end there is marriage, less dangerous.

We have to take into account that the attachment will disappear and freedom will appear, and with it you can rewind all the previous and think that one has married because there have been relationships in the courtship. Or because he was not able to break the relationship.

It is a dangerous time. You have to ask for help.

On the other hand, seen from a more rational point of view, which logically will be intermingled with the emotional, the phases of courtship could be said to be: consistency, trust and commitment.

The first indicates that we must get to know the other person, see what he says he believes and how he lives it. That is to say, if he is a coherent person, if the values he defends, he lives them. A person can say many things, but the important thing is what he does. We are what we do.

We must not confuse opinions and beliefs. An opinion is something I hold; I believe that this actor is better than that actor. Beliefs are what I hold. This is what we have to check.

If the values that you see the other person living, are those that you are looking for in the person with whom you would like to share your life, a trust is generated that grows with time and, sooner or later, generates commitment.

These phases of courtship, in many cases, are not being lived. At the moment you think you are loving each other because there is a certain attraction and a desire to be with each other, you have sexual relations and the rhythm of time is not the one that would be convenient.

Before the coherence of the other has been checked, by having sex, a commitment is generated that makes it impossible for the relationship to develop with the required rhythm and freedom. There is a lack of freedom. There is commitment when there should not be.

I have seen broken couples, due to the mess that sex puts into a dating relationship that probably would have ended in a good marriage.

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