Anyone who watched TLC's 19 Kids And Counting and its spin-off Counting On — or just knows the Duggar family for one reason or another — knows that the Duggar courtship rules are kind of intense. OK, they're really intense. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have some seriously strict beliefs when it comes to relationships, and each of the Duggar children (especially the girls) are expected to abide by the family's traditional relationship guidelines. They have to court and be courted, and they're watched the whole time to make sure they're not doing anything too scandalous — like, you know, holding hands. So what happens during Duggar courtships?
Unlike many of us who date until we decide to take things seriously, finally delete our Tinder apps, and maybe even throw up a #MCM, the courtship is to be taken very seriously from the start. Jim Bob and Michelle have expressed before that they view courtship as "dating with a purpose," according to TODAY.
"Courtship is really waiting for the one God has for you, and praying through the whole process," Jim Bob told TODAY. "It's really examining the person and considering, 'Would this be the guy I want to be the father of my kids?'"
The Duggar patriarch has to vet and approve all courtships, according to TLC. Only then can the process begin. And it looks a lot like this...
1. A Lot Of Buzz Kills (i.e. Chaperoned Dates)
Duggars don't do dates without a chaperone unless they're married. During courtships, the Duggar sons and daughters are required to bring either another sibling or one of their parents along, according to TODAY.
Why? Jim Bob explained the chaperone rule, TODAY reported:
Having that accountability really keeps things from going in the wrong direction. Before you get emotionally attached, you want to know who they are deep inside. That’s easier when you have more eyes looking out for you. There are a lot of things you can learn from not pairing off alone.
2. Some Awkward Side Hugs (and Definitely No Real Hugs)
Lest you thought the Duggars always abide by their rules, however, Joy-Anna and her now-husband Austin Forsyth once hugged (from the front!) in an episode of Counting On before they got hitched. Forsyth reportedly told People that they're "only human" and "sometimes [they] don't always abide perfectly by [the] rules." But they try, and "that was a real hard try" not to touch fronts — alas, to no avail.
3. Some Probably Uncomfortable Group Texts
Jim Bob and Michelle must be CC'd on all texts during the courting process (at least for the Duggar daughters, anyway), according to TLC. That also goes for Skype calls for those wondering.
In fact, Jim Bob once intercepted a text conversation between Jessa and then-boyfriend Ben Seewald, in which she asks Ben to give her a "ring," meaning a call on the phone, according to TODAY. Jim Bob responded, "No rings yet."
4. Definitely No Hand Holding
Hand holding is simply off limits. Once a man puts a ring on a Duggar daughter's finger, only then can he hold her hand, People reported. In fact, after Derick Dillard popped the question to Jill Duggar in 2014, Dillard reportedly told People, "We’ve been holding hands ever since."
Anyone who tries to lock fingers before putting a ring on it — or tries to pull any other hanky panky — has to face Jim Bob.
5. A Lot Of Sobriety
The Duggars don't consume any forms of alcohol in order to keep their heads and hearts clear throughout the dating process, TLC reported. There are no champagne toasts when someone gets engaged. And there are certainly no boozy (chaperoned) brunch dates.
6. Some Serious Sexual Tension
The Duggars don't touch chests when they hug during courtships, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they also can't kiss. Kissing is to be saved for the wedding day, according to People.
Jill Duggar once reportedly told People during her engagement, "We want to save the physical side of our relationship for our wedding day and not go further than we should." She said it's about avoiding temptation to run any other bases.
I guess the question is more so what doesn't happen during Duggar courtships than what does happen. Because there's not much.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.