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It's about finding the one the Lord meant for you to spend your life with. Through prayer and His way, young Amish men and women are brought together in the purist of ways.
Courtship among young Amish men and women varies greatly from one Amish community to another. Just like dating practices in the English world, dating in Amish communities has modernized, in some ways, with the times. For example, Amish men and women may not begin dating until their mid to late 20s, whereas, 20 or so years ago, Amish couples would begin their courtship in their early to late teen years.
Amish youth typically meet through hymn singings, volleyball games and youth only events, said Arlen Miller, a local marketing and communications specialist and previously Amish. Youth also tend to meet frequently at other Amish weddings, said a local, old-order, Amish man (who wished to remain anonymous.)
Once they have decided they are interested in getting to know a certain individual on a deeper level, Amish men and women think through their decision very carefully and may even discuss their decision with their parents. "Young people are encouraged to think their choices over and pray about it," said the local Amish man.
"We don't encourage past-time dating" (or dating just for fun,) said the local Amish man. When Amish youth decide to date, they are planning for their future and are intending to pick a mate to plan their life around. However, if at any point the couple feels they have not made the right choice or it is not "the Lord's leading," the couple is encouraged to break
Remember in grade school, when you decided you liked someone but you were too shy to approach the boy or girl in fear of rejection or embarrassment? So you wrote your feelings in a note and secretly slipped it on their desk or you used your best buddy as a go between. Young Amish men will typically follow these same youthful tactics. Amish men typically use this same approach of writing it out in a letter or using a friend to get a feel if the girl is actually interested, explained the local Amish man.
"Very rarely has a young Amish woman asked for a date of a young Amish man," said Miller. "It would be an unaccepted approach since the man, after marriage, is expected to be the leader of the home as noted in the Bible. In the same way, the young man is expected to take the lead
After long hard thought and prayer, with both genders consenting to getting to know each other better, dating begins. "Going out is not as much the thing as coming in," said the local Amish man. Typically the young man will come to the girl's home and they may go for a walk or play games with the girl's family or talk.
In the past, dating took place in secrecy, explained the local Amish man. The young man would visit the girl's house late in the evening and try to keep their relationship a secret, but the truth would eventually come out. "Now, anymore, the younger generations are much more open about it."
After spending a Sunday afternoon together, either alone or in the company of the girl's family, an official date takes place in the evening hours often after returning from youth hymns, explained Miller. During this time the couple will typically sit together sharing Bible readings and prayer and simply talking. The young Amish man will then leave for his home late in the evening typically around 11 p.m. or midnight, explained Miller.
It is highly encouraged that young Amish couples avoid public displays of affection and practice a "hands-off" approach in their relationships. This particular practice is typically common among most orders, while some households may be
A young Amish couple will typically date for one to two years (two years being the longer end of the spectrum) before they begin to talk about marriage. At this point it is typically assumed the couple will become wed and no formal proposal is made. It then becomes a matter of discussing whether to plan for a June wedding or October wedding, explained the local Amish man.
"In general, the Amish youths, especially young ladies, are shy among members of the opposite gender showing deference and respect, not wanting to be forward," said Miller.