Amish Dating Rules

To an outsider, Amish dating rules might seem a little bit odd, but I promise there’s sound reasoning behind each of the practices.

The current divorce rate in the US is astonishingly almost 50% and, because Amish divorce isn’t an option, it’s natural for them to want to get marriage right.

After all, this is the person that they’ll spend their entire life with, and a family will grow from that bond.

To find the perfect partner, there are many Amish dating rules, customs, and traditions in place. These guidelines help young people find suitable lifelong partners.

Some customs are only practised by certain groups, while others remain commonplace across all Amish communities.

This article will delve into Amish relationships in general, as well as discuss rules on Amish dating practices. We’ll also take a look at what happens during Amish engagements and common Amish wedding practices.

What this article covers:

Amish Relationships

dating amish practices

It’s no surprise that the Amish take their relationships very seriously.

Right from the very beginning, they don’t date for fun. They always date with marriage in mind.

For this reason, there are several Amish dating rules in place.

The Amish value family life and want to have lots of children who will play with Amish baby dolls. That means they need to make sure their choice of partner is spot-on to ensure the best chance at a long, loving life together.

amish rules on dating

So, how do they choose their partners? And what are some of the Amish rules for dating? Let’s have a look.

Dating Rules

To make sure that they find the perfect life partner, Amish dating rules govern all aspects of their courtships. Let’s have a look at some of them and what they entail.

No Touching

To avoid sexual temptation, a strict no-touching rule is administered to unmarried couples.

This isn’t exclusively an Amish thing, and it’s practiced in many other religious and nonreligious groups around the world. The common goal is to avoid ungodly behavior and encourage bonds that are beyond simple physical attraction.

Bundling

This is a traditional practice that today is only practiced by the ultra-orthodox.

It involves a man and woman lying in bed together, fully clothed, without touching, and talking until the early hours of the morning.

It has origins in the Bible, in the Book of Ruth, and was also once a common Jewish practice. It was practiced in Europe for centuries and then brought to America.

Although this might seem strange to an outsider, the logic behind this custom can't be faulted.

Back in the day in Europe, at the end of the night, the fire would be burning out and it would be cold. To keep warm, the best thing to do would be to get into bed with your clothes on, and from there, enjoy your date by chatting away.

Nowadays, many of the more modern Amish communities actually condemn this rule and view it as an outdated practice.

Rumspringa

Translated in English, rumspringa means running around, jumping around, or hopping around.

amish courting

This occurs at the time when a young person is deemed mature enough to begin dating and can start attending events to meet potential partners.

Rumspringa is a rite of passage that occurs during Amish adolescence. It usually begins around the age of 16 years and finishes when the youth decides either to be baptized or leave the community.

Normal behavioral rules are relaxed during this time so that the young person can get to experience the world outside of their community.

It’s typically not as wild as the media portrays it. Rather than lots of parties and sleeping around, it usually involves something as tame as a lone teen heading to the cinema on a Wednesday afternoon.

Dating Practices

Boys start dating around age 16 and girls begin at 14-15 years.

So how do Amish people meet their future husbands or wives? Church services, home visits, singing events, and frolics are the main places where Amish meet potential partners.

Sunday Night Singing

amish relationships

One of the best ways for young people to meet their potential partner is at Sunday night singing.

This is an activity arranged for the teens of several districts. So rather than just seeing their siblings and cousins who they see at school, they’re exposed to a lot more people.

They meet together at someone's home, sit at a long table facing each other, and sing hymns together.

These hymns are faster and more energetic than those sung at Sunday morning church service, making it more fun for the youngsters.

The singing lasts until about 10 pm and is followed by baked goods, usually provided by some of their mothers in traditional multiple pie carriers or a wooden bread box, and mingling.

dating amish rules

At the end of the night, if a boy likes a girl, he may offer her a ride home in his buggy.

In conservative communities, dating is done in secret, therefore they will enter the girl's house in darkness and spend time alone.

In more progressive communities, the boy's best friend (yes, there are Amish wingmen) can secure the visit in advance. Sometimes, it must be cleared with the head of the household.

Modern Dates

In some communities, gone are the days of sneaking around in private and only seeing each other during group activities.

In the most progressive communities, young couples sometimes head off into town together for an evening meal. They are allowed to simply hang out and get to know each other.

Today, dating in the Amish community happens more openly and frequently than once. In some communities, Amish dating rules have come a long way.

Just like the rest of the world, Internet dating has taken charge, and websites such as Amish Dating have been established.

It's unclear whether the Amish actually use this method of meeting, but at least we know it's there as an option.

Engagement

An Amish engagement is usually a private affair and is only announced by the bishop in church 1 or 2 months before the wedding itself.

amish dating practices

Some couples may even wait a few months before they tell their families about their engagement.

Because of their tight-knit communities, some common questions are “do Amish date outsiders?” and “Can Amish marry outsiders?”

Generally speaking, no, Amish people do not tend to date or marry outsiders. If they do, they may be shunned by their community.

Although nothing is stopping them from marrying whomever they want, they prefer to stick within their communities.

People also often ask “are Amish marriages arranged?” No. Amish don’t arrange marriages and they’re free to marry anyone they like.

Wedding Practices

According to Amish dating rules, the Amish age of marriage tends to be between 20 and 22 years.

Amish weddings are usually a large affair, with anywhere between 200 and 500 people attending them.

The morning of the wedding, family and extended family will be hard at work helping to prepare the wedding dinner.

The bride makes her own traditional Amish wedding dress as well as her bridesmaids’ dresses. In line with the usual Amish plain dress, the dress is usually dark blue or purple.

After the wedding, the dress will become part of the bride’s church attire, and she will eventually be buried wearing the dress.

Do Amish wear wedding rings? Once married, Amish people don’t wear wedding rings.

Preparing for an Amish Wedding

amish dating

Weddings are held in the home of the bride. This is also where the newlyweds will live for a few months after the wedding until they are ready to start a home of their own.

Although the official engagement announcement only takes place a few months before the wedding, there are some tell-tale signs that a family is getting ready for a wedding.

Before the wedding, the family often begins painting their house and generally sprucing it up.

Another clue that an engagement has taken place is seeing a family planting lots of celery. The celery will be used to decorate the wedding tables and be served in soup at the Amish wedding dinner.

What's more, there’s been a lot of speculation from outsiders about the meaning of a blue door on an Amish house.

One rumor is that the blue door lets the rest of the community know that the family has a daughter who is eligible for marriage. 

However, that’s not the case. Painting a door blue isn’t part of Amish dating culture.

There may have once been a significant meaning behind the blue doors, but today, the Amish paint their doors blue simply out of tradition.

After the Wedding

Unlike English (non-Amish) couples, Amish newlyweds will stick around the day after the wedding to help with the cleaning up. This Amish dating rule is a gentle reminder that honeymoons and lavish lifestyles have no place in Amish culture.

Rather than wearing wedding rings, they have their own customs and giveaway signs that they’re married.

Before marriage, women wear black bonnets to signify their single relationship status, but how do you know if an Amish woman is married? If she’s been married, you’ll notice she wears a white bonnet instead of a black one.

amish dating practices and rules

Similarly, there are clues on how to tell if an Amish man is married. Rather than being clean-shaven like unmarried men, he’ll have a beard. Being married is a sign of manhood and the beard reflects this. 

Conclusion

The Amish dating rules are a great way of making sure that young people find the perfect partner to spend the rest of their lives with.

Although some of these rules may be outdated and no longer practiced by many communities, it’s still interesting for outsiders to learn about them and their origins.

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