Some of these systems involved little or no courtship.For example, among the ancient Chinese, Hebrews, and Romans, marriage was arranged by male heads of kin groups.For present purposes, then, courtship will be understood in its broadest sense—as a continuum from casual to serious.Thus, "the unattached flirt, the engaged college seniors, the eighth-grade 'steadies,' and the mismatched couple on a blind date are all engaging in courtship" (Bailey 1988, p. Queen, Habenstein, and Quadagno's (1985) classic text provides much of the basis for the following brief and highly generalized overview of some mate-selection patterns unlike those found in contemporary America.Among the ancient Greeks and until recently among the Chinese, many brides and grooms did not meet until their wedding day.
Anthropologists have described practices in primitive and other societies, historians have traced courtship patterns in America from colonial to contemporary times, psychologists and social psychologists have examined intra- and interpersonal components of relationships, and sociologists have developed research-based theories explaining the process of mate selection, and have investigated various courtships dynamics.
Courtship tended to be exclusive and directed toward marriage.
Then, from about 1900 to World War II, a system evolved in which there was much "playing the field" (casual dating), gradually more exclusive dating ("going steady"), engagement, and finally, wedding—a relatively fixed sequence.
In the South, a custom of chivalry developed, closely guarding the purity of (at least upper-class) women, but condoning promiscuity among men.
Parental consent was required for the beginning of courtship and for marriage and open bargaining about property arrangements was commonplace.