danideewantsitall asked: This is really awkward. I’m 26 and I have so little dating experience that I feel like I’ll never “catch up” or be “normal”. I feel like guys (and everyone else for that matter) expect me to be comfortable with dating and dealing with the opposite sex. My friends are starting to ask more questions about why I’m single, and I just don’t know what to say. I really do WANT to date, but when I get the chance, I just freak out and push the guy away. I feel like at my age this is just unacceptable.
Unka Glen answered: It isn’t acceptable, but it is understandable, and you’re certainly not alone. We’re seeing a wave of people your age who have basically put off dating and are in the same boat that you’re in. It’s probably no coincidence that during this same time period several Christian books came out on dating that suggested making choices just like yours.
There’s a reason why we encourage adolescents to begin dating as they work their way into adulthood, and that’s because learning how to form healthy romantic relationships takes time. A lot of that learning comes from making mistakes, and it’s best to make those mistakes when we’re young and life is still relatively simple.
By contrast, imagine that you have something important you need to do, but you want to do it right, and have your full concentration on it, so you put it off to a more convenient time, then you notice it’s been awhile, and that you need to get started on it, then you start feeling anxious about this thing, so you put it off some more, and then it becomes the BIG GIANT SCARY THING.
Well, if you can dig it, the size of the thing never got bigger, it’s just your perception of it. Each time you put this thing off, your brain says, “this must be a big scary thing, because otherwise we wouldn’t be putting it off like this”. Dating involves a lot of exciting and sometimes complex and overwhelming emotions, but it should never become a big giant scary thing.
Here’s the dating advice you should have received (and it’ll work just as good for you today):
— Please, please, please, please do NOT get pregnant. Wait until you’re married to have intercourse, you’ll be glad you did, all you’re missing out on is a bunch of awkward fumbling. If you insist on ignoring this advice, use protection no matter what, period the end.
— There’s lots of sexual stuff you can do that doesn’t involve making babies, but recognize that if you do some stuff, you’re gonna wanna do all the stuff, so it’s important to set sexual boundaries and keep them. If you can’t keep sexual boundaries, you aren’t ready for dating. Bonus points for setting these boundaries where God wants them set.
— Beyond that, please have fun. Enjoy yourself. Be thrilled. Get carried away. Enjoy all the wild emotions and joys and tears and thrills. It’s a good, rich, exciting part of life, and it isn’t to be feared, it’s to be enjoyed.
— In order to enjoy dating you will need to find balance. There’s a time for studying, a time for prayer, a time for worshipping and being in the Word, there’s time for being with friends and family, and there’s a time for making out with your sweetheart.
— Your heart will get broke, and it’ll feel like you’re dying, but you aren’t. You’ll date the wrong person for you, and this experience will make you wiser. You’ll make every mistake in the book, but as long as you aren’t pregnant or married, you can break up, regroup, and get it right the next time. This is the beauty of dating.
— Dating should be taken seriously, and it’s meant to prepare you for marriage, but it’s vital that you remember that dating is a long way from marriage, as it should be. God will let you know when the time is right to think about marriage, meanwhile, just focus on learning how to do this dating thing right.
— To repeat: have fun.
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