A long time ago, after experiencing all the awful effects of 'liberated' relationships, I said goodbye to dating and welcome to courtship. Courtship to me is when a man and woman get to know each other with the purpose of marriage, and focus on finding out the potential of each other as future spouses rather than just goofing around and having fun.
However, being marriage-focused doesn't guarantee purity. We are still under worldly influences, still in danger of temptations, frustrations, immorality and imprudent behavior. Please don't think I'm talking theory here; I speak first and foremost about myself.
Judaism teaches that we need to follow a couple of good, solid guidelines during the period of courtship.
- Eliminating the physical side of relationship until the wedding day. And I mean completely. No kisses or hugs or even holding hands! I understand this might seem radical to some of you. But this is what I follow. And as someone who fell into this very trap in the past, I can tell you I'd rather do the hard thing over and over again than endanger the purity of a precious relationship.
- Not being alone together. Now, don't take it in the way that a third party always has to listen to conversations or something of this sort. Rather, it means not being alone together in a place where the couple probably won't be interrupted. For example: being alone in a room is alright, as long as the door isn't locked and there's someone else in the house; taking a walk along the beach is alright if there are even a few people who can see the couple.
- Watching our conversations and eliminating subjects which contain, or lead to impurity. This is a tough one. Words are harder to watch than actions.
Yes, this isn't easy. But I know it will pay off in the most wonderful way, knowing that I stayed pure in word, thought and deed.