We all know that the Duggar family's courtships are notoriously short. Jinger Duggar and Jeremy Vuolo only courted for a single month before getting engaged, and Joseph Duggar and younger brother Josiah Duggar's courtships were each only two months before they popped the question. Jinger, Joseph, and Joy-Anna Duggar were all married within six months of when they first started dating their significant others — and when you think about the fact that they went from never even holding hands with someone of the opposite gender to getting married and making babies in that amount of time, it's even crazier. But what if the Duggars' courtships aren't actually as short as we think they are?
For all of their different TV shows and TV specials and living life in the limelight, the Duggar family is surprisingly private, even secretive. And, though they keep us up to date on their courting, engagement, and wedding news, we suspect that they don't actually keep us as up to date as they'd like us to think. Fans on the /r/CountingOn subreddit shared similar suspicions while discussing Si and Lauren Swanson's engagement. "They courted for a month before getting engaged," one fan wrote, while another corrected, "They announced their courtship a month before they announced their engagement. Who knows how long they actually courted/have been engaged."
We decided to look into things a little further to see just what we could uncover. And we didn't have to look for long before we remembered how Jill Duggar's courting announcement shook out. The family first shared the news on their Instagram account at the end of March in 2014 — on the 31st specifically.
"Jill made an exciting announcement today," they captioned the post. "She's been courting Derick Dillard since November!" Just a few days later, on April 9, they had even more news to share — Jill and Derick were engaged. But take a step back, remember your Duggar history and your anniversaries, and you'll notice something a little funky. Not only did the family wait four months to announce that their daughter was courting, they actually announced it a full two days after she had gotten engaged. Yep, the happy couple started courting in November, 2013, got engaged on March 29, 2014, announced their courtship on March 31, 2014, and then announced their engagement on April 9, 2014.
Was Jill Duggar's courtship and engagement the only one the Duggars kept secret?
Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald also had some mysterious secrecy surrounding the beginning of their relationship. The duo announced that they were courting before the family started their official Instagram account or the family blog, and, other than big brother Josh Duggar and his wife Anna Keller, who started courting when Anna was just 16 and got engaged on her 18th birthday, they had the longest courtship of all the kids. They were doing the Duggar version of dating for a full 11 months before Ben got down on one knee, which they announced on Instagram on Aug. 15, 2014. But here's the weird part: Their families welcome them to Instagram on May 27, 2014. Just as a reminder, only engaged Duggars are allowed to have social media. And Jessa's Instagram handle, from day one, was @jessaseewald. Kind of a bold move if your boyfriend hasn't actually proposed to you yet, isn't it?
Jinger and Jeremy's courtship wasn't exactly as public as it seemed, either.
They shared a particularly short timeline — at least from what we know. They announced their courtship on June 20, 2016, were engaged on a month later by July 26, 2016, and were married by Nov. 5, 2016. That's just a five month window. And yet, on the same day that they announced their engagement, they also shared a photo album on the family blog. The pictures show the couple hanging out on at least seven different occasions — so they'd obviously already been seeing each other for a while, even though the only picture of Jinger and Jeremy posted before their wedding was one shared three days before their engagement was announced.
If Jinger was handling the family's social channels as we've suspected — and as is suggested by the fact that she signed the picture caption herself, writing, "I love getting to know this man of God! ? – Jinger" — it could just be because she didn't want to publicize their relationship too much. It's possible that, living life in front of the cameras aside, she wanted most of their relationship to be private. But it seems weird to us that Jeremy appeared so infrequently on the Instagram account, especially considering how many pictures of Jinger there are, how often Derick and Ben were in pictures before they officially tied the knot, and the fact that Jeremy had been friends with Jessa and Ben way before he ever started seeing Jinger. We wouldn't be surprised if the couple had actually been together for way longer, and the family was instead deliberately hiding the relationship until they were ready to clue in the outside world.
Joy and Joe's courtships weren't particularly publicized, either.
Sure, they made the big announcements on their family blog and with TLC videos as part of their show, Counting On, but Austin Forsyth didn't appear with Joy-Anna on the family's Instagram until May 7, 2016, a full six months after they started courting and two months after they got engaged. Joe and Kendra Caldwell's first official pic was from their engagement announcement after Joe proposed at his sister's wedding, two and a half months after they announced they'd started courting. But both couples had known each other as family friends for way longer — and Austin and Kendra could be spotted in the background of family photos, videos, and TLC episodes going back years.
So what's with all the shadiness? Well, it's not a bad guess to think that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are hedging their bets when it comes to public announcements. After all, they kind of shot themselves in the foot back in 2015 after announcing Josiah and Marjorie Jackson's courtship. Just a few months later, the relationship fell apart, something courtships are not supposed to do. After all, the whole idea is that they replace dating, where breakups are expected, so that you don't give away any pieces of your heart to your future husband or wife. And now the whole world knew that Josiah's heart was missing a piece or whatever. (Although, honestly, who cares? Lauren certainly doesn't seem to.)
Whatever the reason, though, there's only one conclusion that we can draw. When the Duggars give you dates, take it with a grain of salt. And good thing these kids are getting to know each other at least slightly better than it seems before they all tie the knot, something they do while most kids their age haven't even finished college yet.