Courtship always has marriage as its direct goal...Dating, a more modern approach, begins when either the man or the woman initiates a more-than-friends relationship with the other, and then they conduct that relationship outside of any oversight or authority. Christian minister Patricia Bootsma delineates this distinction, writing that in contrast to the modern conception of dating, in "courtship, time together in groups with family or friends is encouraged, and there is oversight by and accountability to parents or mentors".
In the earlier 1800s, young adults were expected to court with the intention of finding a marriage partner, rather than for social reasons.
In more traditional forms of Christianity, this concept of courtship has been retained, with John Piper defining courtship and distinguishing this concept from dating, stating that: Courtship ordinarily begins when a single man approaches a single woman by going through the woman's father, and then conducts his relationship with the woman under the authority of her father, family, or church, whichever is most appropriate.
The average duration of courtship varies considerably throughout the world.
Furthermore, there is vast individual variation between couples.
Forbidding experimental and serial courtship and sanctioning only arranged matches is partly a means of guarding the chastity of young people and partly a matter of furthering family interests, which, in such cultures, may be considered more important than individual romantic preferences.