10 dating rules followed by the Duggars

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar with their kids.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar make the dating rules. Pic credit: TLC

Dating in the Duggar world has become somewhat fascinating to followers of the family. 

Several relationships have played out while 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On aired, which led to the discovery of rules the Duggar siblings must follow when dating. 

Although the “d-word” isn’t used to describe relationships in their world, courting is the preferred word and encompasses more than dating does. 

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The rules were discussed at length during a 19 Kids and Counting episode, but there has been some evolution since then. 

Different circumstances allow for different variations of the rules. Some are bendable, while others are more set in stone. 

Here are 10 of the most specific Duggar dating rules that the siblings have followed or will follow in the future. 

Only date intentionally 

Joy-Anna and Austin knew each other for years.
Joy-Anna Duggar and Austin Forsyth knew each other for years before courting. Pic credit: TLC

While dating isn’t the term they use, it is similar to what they do. Courting is a fancy word, which essentially means to date intentionally. 

Before even getting into a courtship, there must be potential for the couple to get married. They are dating one another, intending to spend forever together. There is no dating around. Usually, it is only one person they court and the same one they marry. 

Josiah Duggar is the only one who went public in a courtship that didn’t end in marriage. All of the other married siblings have courted or something similar ahead of marriage. 

Chaperones are a must 

Jim Bob and Michelle chaperoning Ben and Jessa.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar chaperoning Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald. Pic credit: TLC

Every date has to be monitored by someone who is a part of the Duggar family. 

Sometimes it will be Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, which makes it more like a double date. That was part of a 19 Kids and Counting episode when they went mini-golfing with Ben Seewald and Jessa Duggar. 

Other options include siblings tagging along for the date as the chaperone. Jana Duggar has done this several times, and some of the even younger siblings have gone along as well. 

This is to prevent anything from happening between the couple. It is for accountability and has worked for the family. 

Not all couples have been chaperoned. It may depend on how old the couple is who is at the time of their courtship. John-David Duggar and Abbie Grace Burnett were on the older side, allowing them more freedom. 

No kissing ahead of wedding

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald side hug.
Side hugs are the only way to show affection when courting. Pic credit: TLC

There is to be no kissing at all between the couple at all. Anything physical isn’t encouraged. 

Side hugs are acceptable, but no frontal hugs. That is a blanket statement, though some of the couples who have courted have eased up on some of the touching guidelines. 

Some couples chose to kiss at the wedding for the first time publicly, and others, like Ben Seewald and Jessa Duggar, decided to go to a private room and kiss after their nuptials. 

Kisses are sacred to the Duggars, but once they happen, they can’t help but flaunt them. Even Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar like to kiss in front of their children and in public for everyone to see. 

The questionnaire 

Jeremy Vuolo and Jinger Duggar in a confessional.
Jeremy Vuolo had to work hard to get Jinger Duggar. Pic credit: TLC

A 50-page questionnaire does exist for possible gentleman callers to fill out even before they meet the girls. 

Jim Bob Duggar has potential suitors fill out the questionnaire that contains everything from basic information to in-depth thinking. 

Jeremy Vuolo confirmed that this was a real thing. However, whether the women who court the Dugar men fill out something similar remains unclear. There is likely some process for the females who want to meet a Duggar man, but it hasn’t been openly discussed. 

Parents approval is a must 

Austin asking Jim Bob to cout Joy-Anna.
Austin Forsyth asked Jim Bob Duggar’s permission to court Joy-Anna Duggar. Pic credit: TLC

If Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar disapprove of the potential suitor, everything dies right there. 

A few of the current spouses had to work hard to win Jim Bob over, and that’s the truth. Until the parents trust the potential partner, they don’t even get to meet the Duggar sibling they are interested in until they get the seal of approval. 

Jim Bob Duggar has to be asked about every date and before a proposal

Ben asking Jim Bob permission to marry Jessa.
Ben Seewald asking Jim Bob Duggar for permission to marry Jessa Duggar. Pic credit: TLC

Dad is still the boss as long as they live under his roof. Jim Bob Duggar has to be told about every date, and his blessing must be given before anything can happen. 

If the plans aren’t up to par or the date and time won’t work, it is a no-go. 

Modest clothing — no pants for the daughters 

Joy-Anna and Jessa Duggar on Counting On.
Joy-Anna and Jessa Duggar still dress modestly. Pic credit: TLC

Modesty is important for the Duggars. It has been drilled into the daughters that it is their responsibility to make sure they are covered up to avoid wandering eyes. 

Dresses and long skirts are the preferred dress code for the Duggar daughters. They aren’t allowed to show too much skin to avoid anything being too tempting. 

For the men, they aren’t regulated as much. They are more the t-shirt and jeans type but have been known to go a little more formal when needed. 

The dress code is mostly for the sisters, as they carry the burden of making sure they don’t cause any men to be tempted. 

Parents monitor all communication 

Jill and Derick talking on Skype with Jim Bob and Michelle watching.
Jim Bob and Michelle monitored Jill Duggar’s conversations with Derick Dillard. Pic credit: TLC

Every form of communication has to be monitored by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. 

From Skype calls to text messages exchanges, there is full transparency. Jill and Jessa Duggar both discussed what it was like while they were courting. Their mom and dad were involved in the conversations, and texts would be in a group message setting. 

This, coupled with chaperone dates, make sure the couple isn’t breaking any of the rules and can get to know each other on a deeper level without any lines being crossed. 

Timelines vary for each couple, so some communicated longer than others. 

No living together until marriage

Jinger Duggar on Counting On.
Jinger Duggar hearing her sisters’ goodbyes ahead of her marriage to Jeremy Vuolo. Pic credit: TLC

There is absolutely no way any of the Duggar siblings can live with their significant other until they are married. 

Co-habitation is completely forbidden. This isn’t a huge deal for the couples who live close enough to see each other frequently, but it makes long-distance relationships harder. 

So far, only Jinger Duggar and Justin Duggar moved away from Arkansas. Josh Duggar left with Anna Duggar for a while but returned home and has been there for several years. 

Justin did spend a lot of time in Texas while courting Claire Spivey, but it was still a heavily monitored courtship.

The Bible is the foundation for meeting someone 

Josiah Duggar and Lauren Swanson on Counting On.
Josiah Duggar and Lauren Swanson at a marriage retreat with their Bible. Pic credit: TLC

For the Duggars, everything is biblically based. The potential suitors for Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s children must know the Bible and relate to it and its teachings. 

There is no wavering when it comes to this. If the Bible isn’t a part of the potential suitors’ life, they aren’t moving forward in a relationship with any of the Duggar siblings. 

God is first, and that’s just the way it is.

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