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The Duggar family has fascinated us for years ever since the early days of 19 Kids and Counting. Thanks to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar sharing their lives with TLC, we’ve had an in-depth look into what the Duggar’s ultra-conservative lifestyle has looked like for years. And now that the kids are growing up, we’re watching them court others, marry, and start families of their own in Counting On.

There’s one Duggar tradition many fans can’t seem to get past — and that’s the rule of no physical contact, including hugging and kissing, prior to marriage. So, why does this rule exist? Here’s what the family has explained.

The Duggar family’s courtship rules are extremely strict

For the average teen or young adult, dating isn’t always a serious endeavor. For the Duggars, however, they don’t just date — they court, which is a much more serious affair. Today explains that courting for a Duggar is “dating with a purpose,” and that purpose typically ends in marriage and starting a family. As Jim Bob explains, “Courtship is really waiting for the one God has for you and praying through the whole process.” It’s no wonder the patriarch of the family is often the one to set up his daughters for courtships, too.

Dating while in a courtship is likely foreign to a lot of modern daters today, too. When the Duggar daughters go on dates to get to know their potential husbands a bit better, they always have a chaperone with them to ensure no funny business will occur. Not only that, but all texts between the Duggar and their potential spouse are monitored by Jim Bob and Michelle. And of course, there’s no kissing — or hand holding or frontal hugging — until the day of the wedding.

They believe no physical contact will set a high standard and create a lasting partnership

The Duggar courtship rules are seriously strict, but it seems the whole family is in agreement that it’s all for the best in the end. People notes the family believes keeping themselves “pure” by not engaging in any physical relationship before the wedding helps keep them at a higher standard. By the time their wedding comes around, they want to be able to say they’ve given their whole selves to their spouse. And while Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have stated before that they were virgins when they wed, they also noted that they had regrets about having any physical contact prior to marriage. They wished they kept their physical relationship more sacred.

When Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard were engaged, they shared with ABC News why they wanted to respect their family’s rules regarding kissing, too. As Jill said, “We’re just really trying to keep our relationship focused not on the physical but really just more on communication and continuing to learn more about each other.” And Michelle Duggar has also mentioned, “I think it’s good for couples out there, young, old, whatever, you can set those standards and really focus on getting to know each other and wait for the physical aspect.”

There have been some seriously awkward Duggar first kisses

Viewers love watching the Duggar family weddings — and they usually can’t wait to see what the first kiss is going to be like for the happy couple. Of course, it’s no surprise that many of the kisses are seriously awkward. In Touch Weekly reminds us Josh and Anna Duggar’s wedding day kiss was actually rehearsed before the moment came. “It’s just like, you gotta know which way to — You don’t want to just like miss or something,” he said. Luckily, they didn’t miss — but many fans pointed out that Anna’s tight-lipped kiss was truly bizarre.

Jill and Derick’s first kiss was also quite awkward. The publication notes Josie Duggar even pegged it as “funny” when Jill went in for Derick’s chin more so than his mouth. And we’ll never forget when Jessa and Ben chose to leave the church area altogether to experience their first kiss in private.

No matter how strange the Duggar kissing tradition may seem, at least they appear happy. Here’s to many more courtships and weddings in the future.

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