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The Duggar family has long contended that decision to go through courtships rather than dating is the decision of the children. Several clips from the family’s shows, 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On, feature segments about courtships. While the kids all seem enthusiastic about the concept, some skeptical fans believe there is more coercion to follow the strict guidelines than Jim Bob and Michelle would have viewers believe. Now, a church insider has come forward to suggest it’s not uncommon for families to strongly encourage marriages between children.

How does courtship work?

Traditional dating is not an option for the Duggar kids or anyone in the family’s ultra-conservative Christian religion. Instead of dating, the Duggar kids enter courtships. Courtship is essentially dating with the intention of getting married. While there are courtships that don’t end with a trip to the altar, the vast majority do, and it seems the formality of the entire ordeal pretty much forces an engagement.

Each family within the religious sect are free to make their own courtship rules, but the Duggars abide by a pretty strict set of guidelines. The Duggar kids are not allowed to have physical contact with one another before engagement, and their first kiss must be saved for the wedding day. They are also not allowed to spend time alone together. A chaperone must be present whenever they head out on a date. Their phone calls and text messages are monitored for inappropriate chatter.

The Duggars also don’t wait long before they head for the altar. The most prolonged courtship within the family seems to be that of Joshua. It is believed he courted Anna for around two years before becoming engaged, but he appears to be an outlier in the family. Most Duggars seem to get engaged before they’ve been courting for six months. Some fans believe the short courtships are directly related to the fact that the marriages are setup by Jim Bob and Michelle.

Jana Duggar was allegedly promised to someone as a teenager

Internet users interested in the Duggar family have alleged the eldest Duggar daughter was once promised to a boy. The arrangement allegedly occurred when she was just a teenager. The setup, however, failed, and Jana has not gone on to marry. She is the only Duggar daughter over the age of 18 who hasn’t publicly entered into a courtship.

According to Life is Not All Pickles and Hairspray, the then-teenaged Jana was allegedly promised to a boy who was part of the family’s social circle. The fathers were actively involved in the pairing. The boy, however, is rumored to have called off the arrangement. The moderator of the Facebook group did not share who the young man was. They did note that he is now married with a child.

Do the Duggars really arrange marriages?

While arrangement might be a strong word, it has been argued that Jim Bob Duggar takes a very active role in who his Daughters court. The father of 19 has noted that any boy interested in one of his daughters must speak to him first. The family patriarch seemingly gets the final say on whether or not a potential courtship gets off the ground.

Fans watched as Derick, Ben, Jeremy, and Austin all went through the process of asking for permission to court one of the Duggar girls. In fact, it seems as though Jim Bob set up Jill with her now-husband Derick. A church insider also alleges that parents from different families might also work together to encourage a particular pairing.