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The art of courting

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by Donald Mokgale

Courting is defined as a process that involves two members of the opposite sex engaging each other on a social level of a more intimate nature. Courtship is the traditional dating period before engagement and marriage. During a courtship, a couple dates to get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement. Usually courtship is a public affair, done in public and with family approval (traditionally this is how it was done). It includes activities such as dating where couples go out together for a meal, a movie, dance parties, a picnic, shopping or general companionship, along with other forms of activity. Acts, however, such as meeting on the Internet or virtual dating, chatting on-line via instant messaging or e-mail, sending text messages, conversing over the telephone, writing each other letters, and sending each other flowers, songs, and gifts constitute wooing. Wooing is to seek the affection of somebody with the intent of romance; this concept is only applicable to polished individuals who actually care about the other individual and excludes hormonal folks whose mind is driven by libido. So it would be gauche to view courtship as a predatory attack!

Is courting still happening today? Do people still woo one another? How has courtship changed (if at all) over the years? Fortunately, courtship is still happening today however, since the emergence of technological advancements speed has become a key factor in this equation. Internet has become a platform well utilized by those living in civilized environments as a tool to communicate and even cyber-meet new acquaintances thereby replacing the traditional blind dates in restaurants. E-mails and text messages have replaced the face to face engagement that used to come with courtship such that individuals even go to the extent of sending one another photographs of themselves to put a face to their names and only after this (usually lengthy process) do they decide to meet for a first date. By this time, what would be the first conversation has already been done during the scanning process i.e. emails/text messages and now makes way for the wooing process. Naturally, this new method of courtship has its disadvantages as written communication is different from verbal so the first date is usually a due or die event as it will be a platform for the peacock to open its wings (that’s if they aren’t chickens). Well-bred ladies and gentlemen will be looking at things such as hygiene, etiquette, conduct, dress code and so forth as key areas of focus during the first date and this is where one of the disadvantages kicks in. The first date is a test of consistency from textual to verbal communication; this is where spell check users will be exposed. If the date is successful, it leads to the second, third and eventually the beautiful question: “how do you like your eggs?” (which, I don’t condone by the way)

“It is a melancholic truth that old men have poor relations” was a statement well crafted by Charles Dickons, it is very applicable in today’s society considering how weak communications between the opposite sex has become over the years, very ironic that more tools of communication have emerged over the years. I was regaled by an episode of Motswako a few months ago and they were talking about courtship and on the show was Bonang Matheba (from SABC 1’s LIVE) and she was being interviewed to give her views on this topic. She mentioned how modern men do not woo anymore (well the majority of them anyway) instead they flash their wallets and car keys or rattle on about what they have achieved which of course makes them as interesting as an elderly strip party. She mentioned how the traditional wooing process really allowed the two potentials to get to know each other whereas the new way of doing things mostly leads to disaster. So gone are the days where a Zulu gentleman would publicly display his affections in creative words that left observers whistling in amazement and the incumbent lady blushing in appreciation. So who do we blame?

“Change is the only constant” said a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus, so one can argue that, that was then and this is now. Some of the most beautiful moments occur during courtship, like “when she laughed within the first few minutes during our date, that made me relax”, said a gentlemen after what was to become a beautiful courtship, so I guess that leaves out the eloquent “LOL” of modern days. Courtship was always to be something only done by gentlemen, but with the emergence of independent females, roles have swopped and we find some women doing the courting, so how has this affected photosynthesis you may ask? Well, uncouth men view such women as ‘too easy’ which gives the rest of us elated men a bad name which invariably deters those women whose confidence levels depend on other womens’ success in this regard, which is a shame because women actually have more experience than men when it comes to wooing. It is, however, quite ironic that some women are clueless when it comes to courtship regardless of their vast experience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a female courting a male provided it is done cleverly and with grace, take the Nescafe advertisement (I know it’s free advertising) with a lady who spotted a gentleman who she sees as attractive and she finds a creative way of opening the door for conversation, that is an introduction to how women should woo as opposed to a confrontational “I like you” or the sending of friends to deliver cupid’s message, remember, grace and creativity is an illustration of sophistication.

Courtship is like duality, there are two sides. In as much as during the courtship process, one is the wooer and the other a wooee, each individual must take responsibility of their respective roles and this is where reciprocity comes in. Some females have a tendency of forgetting this, they expect to be called all the time, they expect the gentlemen to pay all the way and so forth (so much for independent women) and this is quite unfair on the gentlemen which is where, I presume, men took the idea that if they took you out and paid for everything then they were entitled to select sex positions for the night as well (imagine Karma Sutra on the menu as well). On the other side of the coin, first impressions count and so does consistency and some males have a tendency of forgetting this, they forget that how you approach a lady is very important and lays the first bricks to the house of charm. Once the gentleman has finally acquired the handkerchief of the lady, they need to be consistent and males have a tendency of forgetting this, if a male was exciting and romantic during courtship, that is the impression they are giving off and as a result they must maintain it as it is (I presume) one of the reasons the lady gave in. So essentially, knowing which side of the coin you’re in is very important so that you can make your courtship experience worthwhile (because it can be rather time consuming).

Courting is an art, those who are involved in courtship are therefore artists, because unlike animals, humans are intelligent and far more creative (although some leave room for questions). Every single effort taken to win him/her over should be well planned and enjoyed so it would be vulgar to date anyone who does not take courtship seriously because they would not be taking you seriously. Times have changed and so have the methods of courting but I say, “If it not broken, then don’t fix it”. Move with the times in aspects that you would like to, if some parts of the traditional courtship tickle your fancy then don’t change, i.e. leave your arm pits open, but do not expect that the wooer will know this, so “reflect the change that you would like to see in the world” or the wooer in this instance. I bet you can’t wait for the next one right?

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