I was looking for some information on “bundling” because I was writing about the common custom of having sex between engagement and marriage and wanted to distinguish this custom from the courting custom of bundling (essentially sleeping together fully clothed, perhaps under supervision, during the courting process).
Anyway, I came across mention of a courting practice still in use in nineteenth-century New England called the “courting stick”. Simply put, the courting stick was an eight-foot hollow stick that allowed young couples to whisper sweet nothings to each other secretly, but under visual supervision of the family, make sure the couple kept a nice safe distance from each other.
This seems like a wash to me with respect to the dating scene. On the one hand, you have to be your seductive best under the watchful eye of smirking family members. On the other hand, you don’t have to keep wondering whether or not this is a good time to try to put your arm around her. No, it is NOT! Presumably your wedding night would be the time for such advanced lubricity.
Source: Alice Morse Earle, “Old-Time Marriage Customs in New England,” The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 6, No. 21 (Apr.–Jun., 1893), pp. 97-102; see p. 101 regarding courting sticks.