First of all, here’s a link to an awesome blog post about dating that goes along with what I’ve been saying: http://stayinsidethelines.com/2012/11/14/to-my-daughters-please-read-before-your-first-date/
Why do you/would you/did you date? I’m not asking why you date this particular person, necessarily. I’m asking why you date at all. Have you ever thought about that?
I’ve often heard people talk about dating for the heck of it, or just for fun. This concept has always bothered me. Why? Well, let’s unpack what it means to “date for fun.”
1. Are you dating for YOUR fun or THEIRS? If it’s yours, that’s selfish; you’re only dating them for your benefit. If it’s theirs, why are you dating them when you’re not having fun?
2. No commitment. As soon as the relationship is no longer fun, it’s over. That’s a pretty shallow relationship. Good friends have better foundation than that, and if your boyfriend/girlfriend is no better than your friend, why are you wasting your time with them?
3. It implies that a serious relationship is not as fun as just dating around. In a good relationship, you enjoy being with that person more than anybody else. If you’re not, you need to spice things up or stop dating them.
“But what if I don’t know much about them?” you ask. “I can’t have a deep relationship with someone I don’t know very well.” Well, if you don’t know them very well…why are you dating them? Think about that question for a minute. Why would you date somebody you know very little about, or nothing about?
Usually, it’s because they’re attractive. Do you really want that to be the reason you pay special attention to somebody? Shouldn’t Christians care about more than looks?
“But what if they seem pretty interesting? Don’t you date to learn more about that person?” I used to think so, yeah. But the truth is you can learn everything you’d learn on a date through a simple conversation. No labels, no implications, no drama. Just you forging a friendly relationship with someone of the opposite sex. If it leads to more than that, good for you! If it does not, well then, you’ve either formed a friendship or simply realized that a date with them would not have ended well (and possibly saved yourself a few bucks!).
“So, what? Are you saying don’t date, just marry?” Heck to the no, home skillet! A romantic relationship must be tested before you can even consider marriage. I’m all for dating, I’m just saying we shouldn’t be glib about it. Dating should be done with a purpose. What’s that purpose? To forge a real relationship.
As Christians, we’re called to real relationships with people. True, you can’t do that with everybody. So many people come and go every day that you’ll never form any kind of bond with them. But why would you bring somebody close to you, then deliberately keep them at a distance? That just puts you at an awkward place where you don’t know boundaries or rules, and it’s easy to step on somebody’s toes one way or the other.
It all boils down to aiming a little higher than what the world expects. The world believes that relationships are just there to make us happy. But “happy” is fleeting. It changes due to the circumstances, and when it does, we either abandon the relationship altogether, or we become totally dependent upon it.
God has bigger plans for us than just satisfying a temporary desire. If he’s put it on your heart to marry, then look for love, not like. If he’s put it on your heart to be single, then dating just contradicts what God has for you.
If you date with a purpose, you’ll date smarter. You’ll set some standards for yourself and be able to quickly judge whether or not this person is worth your time and effort. Many aren’t, you know. But when you do find someone who passes the test, the entire relationship becomes infinitely smoother and even if it doesn’t work out, you won’t regret it.
Of course, you have to set REALISTIC standards, but we’ll get into that next week.
Right now, I simply want you to see why dating without a purpose is at best, pointless, and at worst, selfish.
“But what if we’re young?“ I’m talking college and even high school. Should you date then? It’s good to spend that time learning to be Godly and independent as I mentioned in the last dating entries. However, some young people (I’m 24, I shouldn’t be allowed to use that phrase) accomplish this pretty quickly, especially in college. But the same principle applies: date smart. Find someone who has the basics down of being a Christian human being. If not, then wait.
For the particularly young, like high school, group outings are a good idea. It helps you see this interesting guy/girl out in the real world, plus you can still get a chance to talk one-on-one or with friends and learn about them. “But I want to be alone with them?” Um, why? “Oh, just to hang out.” If you don’t know them, how do you know you can trust them?
Now, this system isn’t foolproof. Sometimes, you date somebody for a while and things still don’t work out. There are many things you can only learn about a person through experience–that’s why I said you don’t marry until the relationship has been tested. Things can still go wrong. And sadly, people do change sometimes.
But how is that any different than casual dating? I know I sound old fashioned, but the modern world is no wiser than God. The world wants you to settle for the surface level. God wants you to go deeper, to experience true commitment, to form a real bond, and to enjoy a life of love.
Dream of real relationships with good people whom you really care about and who care about you. If you’re already dating, I hope you’re enjoying this. If you’re not, it may be time to move on. Pray, talk, and use wisdom.
Love you guys.