Scientific research into courtship began in the 1980s after which time academic researchers started to generate theories about modern dating practices and norms.Both Moore and Perper found that, contrary to popular beliefs, courtship is normally triggered and controlled by women, continue to support a view that courtship is a social process that socialises both sexes into accepting forms of relationship that maximise the chances of successfully raising children.
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.
A courtship may be an informal and private matter between two people or may be a public affair, or a formal arrangement with family approval.
Traditionally, in the case of a formal engagement, it has been perceived that it is the role of a male to actively "court" or "woo" a female, thus encouraging her to understand him and her receptiveness to a proposal of marriage.
Unlike what is regularly seen in other societies, it takes a far more subdued and indirect approach.