Turkish dating culture

Updated April 17, 2017

Unlike the Western version of dating, the Turkish culture does not allow teenagers to hop from person to person in attempt to find Mister or Miss Right. Instead, with premarital dating prohibited by Islamic law, the people of Turkey hold firm to their beliefs and traditions, turning toward family and friends during rituals of courtship, engagement and marriage.

Age of mMarriage

According to the Turkish Cultural Foundation, men in Turkey are normally expected to marry after their required service in the military. In some more traditional areas of the country, the expectation may to be to marry right before the young man serves his country. The approximate age of marriage is 22. For women, the typical age of marriage lies around 20. With higher education becoming increasingly popular in Turkey, an increase in marital age has been seen within the country. Some Turkish people are now waiting until after college to begin seeking a spouse.

The pursuit

Dating in Turkey begins with finding a girl for the young man to pursue. Unlike most Western cultures, however, it is not the soon-to-be-married man who does the choosing. He places his trust in family and friends to seek out a bride for him. Unlike an arranged marriage, where the parents choose a bride or bridegroom for their child, the soon-to-be newlyweds also grant their approval in the choice, regardless of how heavily they relied on their families' decisions.

The Turkish Cultural Foundation identifies this process as the act of go-betweens, where the family begins looking for a bride for the son, particularly in rural areas. They find eager and willing assistance from their families, neighbours and friends. The women in the group then go to the potential girl's house to express their intentions and examine the girl.

In bigger cities, where the culture strays further from the tradition of rural areas, the Turkish Cultural Foundation states that this group of women, the middle women, have been cut out, and male and female may communicate directly when attempting to "choose" each other. Premarital dating in Turkey is still outlawed even in more liberal city life.

Making a choice

If the prospective groom’s family decides the girl is worthy of its son, the bride’s family is granted time to discover information about the groom’s family before granting the daughter support to marry. If support and approval are granted by both families, the man and woman then make their choice independently.

Agreement to marry

The Turkish Cultural Foundation notes a difference between the agreement to marry and the actual engagement between the man and the woman. After the family is asked for the bride's hand in marriage, it is her family that is requested to respond. Both families are required to respond in front of a crowd of guests. The Turkish engagement is official when the bride's family returns an embroidered kerchief with a ring attached to the groom's family. The custom is less prevalent in urban areas because the tradition of go-betweens is less prevalent there as well.

In rural areas of the country, some couples still pay a dowry to the bride's family before the marriage ceremony. Although the government tried to rid the country of the practice, it still exists today.

Dating, marriage, turkey and Islam

Although there are many Islamic traditions that can be found in Turkish dating culture, they are more relaxed than elsewhere. For instance, the Muslim faith condones polygamy, but Turkish marriages generally consist of one man and one woman because of Turkish law. In 1926, the Turkish Parliament outlawed polygamy. The Turkish people now participate in civil marriages, viewed as contracts. Although there is the benefit that one person practicing Muslim faith can marry a non-practicing Muslim, many Turkish people still opt to hold religious ceremonies as well.

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About the Author

Mary Beth Swayne is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in newspapers including the Greater Philadelphia Newspaper network. She has also written for seven magazines and non-profit organization publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Pennsylvania State University.