My brother recently forwarded me an article from Relevant Magazine title: “How to Go on an Actual Date“. I found the article very interesting and a good read. Check it out. But really, I found the article, and the idea of the article, a necessary read.
You see, no one has ever taught me how to date. I’ve gotten here innocently enough. I got into books by Josh Harris and Eric and Leslie Ludy (and I liked them) as a teen and kissed dating goodbye. Growing up I was home schooled, and even when I worked at summer camps and such activities growing up, I always felt I was too young for any type of serious relationship. Then I studied at secular universities and didn’t find anyone that was compatible. So I haven’t done a lot of dating. (OK, I haven’t even done a little amount of dating. I could probably count the number of dates I’ve been on with two hands).
Somewhere out there is a conservative Christian that is saying: “Well, I don’t date; I’m only interested in courting.” That’s nonsense. In any serious relationship one goes on dates. (I really think I should write something on dating vs. courting sometime).
Being a conservative Christian is such a funny culture to be in. We’re all about preserving modesty and propriety, which is awesome, but then when the rubber hits the road, and it’s time in life to not kiss dating goodbye, this particular culture really doesn’t have any to give me. Pretty much all the messages I hear from the literature and speakers are: don’t date, wait for the right person, and don’t date. Trust me, this is really great stuff for when I was a teenager, but I’m turning thirty soon. Wrong demographic.
For example, there is a rule of relationships out there that one needs to talk to the father before starting a relationship. Yes. Kinda. I mean, I don’t even know you yet. What am I supposed to talk to your father about? This is particularly distressing because sometimes life doesn’t allow people to get to know each other in person before going on a date, like when people meet at a church youth conference. I don’t know you, and for us to spend some time getting to know each other, let’s go on a date. “Yes, but I don’t date.” Honestly, what’s a guy supposed to do? In that situation I propose the idea that going on a date is not dating. We’re getting to know each other and evaluating the idea of a relationship. Trust me, I’m not here to play with anyone’s heart, and I’m only interested in serious relationships. It’s not that type of a date.
So it’s refreshing that there is at least someone out there who’s willing to take the time to give me some pointers on what to do on a date. I really need the advice. The Christian dating pool is small, and I have to make the most with the chances I do have. I don’t have a lot of room to not mess things up.
Son, you never asked me. But your mom gave you good advice.
I got rid of that paragraph.
I liked the article. Not too in-depth but I felt from a woman’s perspective that he was pretty spot on. I especially liked the “Asked by name” point. I had many experiences (when I was still single) where I was asked to “hang out” with a group and then when I got to the event it was clearly a date. I always considered this disrespectful. A woman wants a man to be brave and intentional. When a date is never directly asked for but assumed a woman does not feel special, but rather the opposite; it communicates that the guy is not mature enough to step out of his comfort zone and pursue a special woman. But this is just my two cents…
I agree. I think a guy should be willing to speak up.
I enjoyed reading this and appreciate hearing your thoughts as another still unmarried pushing thirty Christian. I also read Joshua Harris and Eric and Leslie Ludy and enjoyed them.
There’s the debate about courtship verses dating which I think is all just a bunch of labeling. What matters is that we treat people with respect and are clear about our intentions. There are a lot of opinions out there and its hard to find the truly right path. It seems to me you can read a lot of books and plan everything out but still blunder with the best of intentions. relationships are often messy situations ending with pain that’s just as intense as the joy was when things started out. It’s easy to get involved in the emotions that come from relationships and forget everything you read and planned out. And then you try to learn from your mistakes. Is there a way to just skip the mistakes and jump to the happy ending? Let me know if you figure it out. Love (or even just potential romance) is necessarily risky and you can’t protect your self from that. But we are encouraged to guard or hearts and I think that means we need to make sure that God is at the center of our everything. Our actions reflect our heart so we can not act unselfishly toward someone else without that transformation that comes from God. I guess that applies to more than just romance but I find that I’m more likely to be reasonable and content in romantic relationships if I’m solid I’m my heavenly relationship.
My thoughts for you would be to get out there and date when you are interested in someone and have the chance. Be honest about things. A casual date is not a big deal. When it seems appropriate (like maybe after a few great dates) let her know if you want to have an exclusive relationship. Then it’s not just a date, it’s a status and it means you are going to see where things go in this relationship before dating other girls and she agreed to the same. Be aware that there might be disappointment along the way but don’t let that stop you. Have fun. Make memories. Obviously don’t do anything you’ll regret if the relationship doesn’t last. Make your date feel special. Communicate a lot. And don’t stress to much. Be yourself because that’s who you want the girl to fall for. The idea is to get to know each other and see if you connect well. That connection can happen even if the date was poorly planned… and you guys can laugh about it later. If she’s the kind to write you off for some small mistake, do you really want her to fall for you?
If the relationship doesn’t work out, be thankful. Don’t consider it a failure. The mission was to find out if you both want to spend the rest of your lives together. You found out that you don’t. Mission accomplished. Hopefully you can end things in an amiable fashion. (Sometimes that’s hard but you just do your best, be forgiving, learn from your mistakes and if the other person doesn’t allow such an ending there is yet another reason you might be glad it didn’t last)
In my current relationship we have been praying together which I think can be healthy though I’ve heard others caution that this can create feelings of intimacy too quickly. I don’t know but I have found it to be a great blessing.
I think I’ve rambled enough. Sorry for such a long post. Thanks for sharing this blog and id love to hear more from you.
Thanks for a lot of great thoughts! I pretty much want to copy this response into a blog post of its own.
You mention a couple things I’d like to write about like dating vs. courtship. I’ll get to that soon, hopefully.
I think that if you’re in a relationship it’s ok to pray together. I think outside of a relationship it is dicey. I have seen people become attached emotionally before a relationship develops. I’m also worried it could be like a spiritual manipulation to get someone into a relationship. But once in a relationship the spiritual base between the two people needs to be grown.
I agree with your insightful comments regarding prayer. Is good to be aware and act wisely. But it might be appropriate under the right circumstances.
Thanks for your response. Do whatever you wish with my post. I look forward to more of your blogs. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.