The Duggars are known for having strict rules when it comes to relationships. All have entered into official courtships as opposed to just dating, have used chaperones on outings, refused to hold hands until they’re engaged and saved their first kiss for their wedding day. Still, they have been known to bend a rule or two on “Counting On.” Here are six times Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s kids broke their own courtship rules.


In a 2014 episode of the family's TLC series, viewers watched as Ben Seewald and Jessa Duggar had a meal with their family the night before their engagement. Jessa and Ben broke their rules and held hands at the restaurant while engaging in a pre-meal prayer. While dad Jim Bob noticed the flub, he decided to let it go due to their impending engagement.

The following day, the couple bent their own rules again by engaging in a full-frontal hug after Jessa accepted Ben’s proposal.

In the book “Growing Up Duggar,” Jessa admitted the pre-proposal dinner wasn’t the only time she and Ben broke their courtship rules. Jessa also confessed to having unchaperoned phone calls with Ben at the start of their relationship.

“The day Ben and I started courting, we began our tradition of calling each other on the phone every night. These were such special times,” Jessa wrote. “These calls were not ‘chaperoned.’ They were private just between the two of us.”


Jinger Duggar and Jeremy Vuolo made it clear at the start of their courtship that they were not going to follow the “cookie cutter” courtship rules. Still, they did have guidelines for themselves during their pre-martial romance. During their engagement, they accidentally bent their own rules, though, mom Michelle Duggar revealed in a 2016 episode.

Viewers will remember that Jeremy proposed to Jinger during a trip to New York. After returning to the family’s home in Arkansas, Michelle let it slip to Jim Bob that their daughter may have given Jeremy more than a sidehug after accepting his proposal.

“It’s kind of hard to keep two magnets apart. They definitely are in love,” Michelle said. “... There were a few moments that I think she was totally caught off guard.”


During her 2014 courtship with now husband Derick Dillard, Jill Duggar broke courtship rules in front of her entire family. After 60 days apart, Jill greeted Derrick with a full-frontal hug at the airport following his return from Nepal. You can watch the scene play out here.

“Bless their hearts, they just gave a big hug,” Michelle said of the mishap. “I think intentions were to do a sidehug but I think they were both caught off guard.”

“It was good,” Derrick told the cameras. “I enjoyed it.”



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While it’s unclear if John-David Duggar set courtship rules with now-fiancée Abbie Grace Burnett, recent photos of the lovers did have some fans questioning his actions. Shortly before announcing their engagement, the pair shared photos of themselves on a flying date. In the images, Abbie can be seen cuddling up to John’s shoulder and caressing his neck.


Joy Duggar admitted to breaking her courtship rules during a 2017 “Counting On” special. After accepting now husband Austin Forsyth’s marriage proposal, the two went in for a full-frontal hug. Joy said she did so because she didn’t realize they were filming at the time. You can watch the clip here.

“We’re humans and sometimes we don’t always abide perfectly by our rules,” Austin said. “We try. That was a real hard try.”

The Duggars have admitted to breaking their courtship rules before. Pictured are “Counting On” stars (clockwise) Jessa and Ben Seewald, Jinger and Jeremy Vuolo, Joseph and Kendra Duggar and Joy and Austin Forsyth. TLC