In this video, I answer some questions on the Amish and dating (or “courting”, though that’s not quite the same thing), thanks to info from Karen Johnson-Weiner’s book The Lives of Amish Women. I share a couple of excerpts from the book, which provide answers to the following:
- Can Amish girls ask boys out for dates?
- What do Amish feel is the purpose of courtship?
- Can Amish marry non-Amish?
- Do Amish youth have relationships with multiple dating partners?
- What do Amish women look for in Amish men?
Of course practices and thoughts on the matter can vary among Amish. Some communities (and families) are going to be more strict when it comes to their youth’s dating practices, while others may trend closer to the English way of doing things, where “dating around” is more permissible.
Many Amish will feel that dating is meant to be for the purpose of marriage. That said, Amish young women and men aren’t necessarily going to marry the first person they go on a date with, as noted in the video.
As far as how practices vary, I’ll re-share a couple of excerpts from Rich Stevick’s Growing Up Amish: The Rumspringa Years. First, a description of how things look in communities with a more conservative approach to dating:
In small settlements, among conservative youth groups, and in New Order settlements, couples almost always begin dating or courting in the context of Sunday-night singings, when the boy goes to pick up the girl he has asked out, or their meeting may occur afterward, when he takes her home, depending on the local tradition. In all settlements, however, the boy takes the initiative in dating or courtship. He may show his interest by writing a letter, or by going through a mutual friend instead of directly asking the girl for a date. She will typically respond through a third person. Having a mutual friend who prepares the way or relays the response to the invitation reduces the likelihood of public rejection, shame, or teasing.
Compare that with the approach in “faster” groups:
Formal dating is much less common overall among older teens in these faster crowds. Also, they are slower in joining the church, beginning serious courting, and giving up their youthful pleasures. Many of these youth would regard the kind of courtship described earlier in this chapter as quaint, if not amusing. For many, their goal is to extend the relative freedom of the Rumspringa period, so they can expand rather than restrict their worldly experiences. Few of these things lend themselves to the traditional view of courtship, where a young man seeks to find God’s will in choosing who will become his lifetime partner.
In an upcoming post and video I’ll share more on dating practices, including one which understandably gets a lot of attention – the practice of “bundling” (aka bed courtship) – as well as one related practice. You can also check out the post “An Amish First Date” for more. Runtime: 5:12