lostclockwork asked you:
I’m 18 (19 in November) the guy that is interested in dating me just turned 17. We both serve in the church regularly and are in leadership. We are both starting college this January and we were wondering if we were too young to be dating, because we both understand dating is not a game but rather a tool to find someone you will eventually marry.
So I Said:
Go find this dude today and say to him, “Let’s go out this Friday.”
Here’s the thing: People need to collectively calm down about dating. Now, I think I know what you mean when you say, “Dating is not a game” but I don’t love what you mean by it. See, it sounds like you’re saying dating is an intensely serious situation in which you must carefully consider whether you are ready to marry this person you’ve never even been out with, because let’s face it: Dating is marriage practice and once you date someone, you’re basically engaged. (Hopefully, that sentence looks absolutely crazy to you now that you see it all laid out there)
Dating is not marriage practice. There is no practice for marriage. Dating can’t get you there. Marriage is the hardest thing you will ever do and the challenges of dating aren’t even in the zip code of the issues and struggles you will face in marriage. Marriage takes absolutely everything you’ve got the whole time, all day long everyday. Now, the payoff for putting in all that work is the greatest thing ever and the most satisfying and amazing love that two people can share, but it’s hard and dating doesn’t hold a candle. The only marriage practice is marriage itself.
Yes, dating can help you find that person you’re going to marry, and yes, you can use dating as a tool to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t in relationships, but if you think dating is the most serious thing in the world, you’ll never really do it because you’ll be too afraid, and then you’ll never learn anything, ever.
I think people are afraid to date because they’re afraid to get hurt. They’re afraid to “give away pieces of their heart…” Look, dating involves attraction, emotion, passion, flirting, and sometimes there are even kisses. All that to say, feelings are involved - and anytime feelings are involved, there is the chance someone will get hurt. But here’s the really important thing: It’s a risk worth taking. You may get dumped, which sucks. You may have to let someone down easy, which also sucks. The thing is, it’s not the end of the world, and you will recover. I promise. But if you don’t ever do it, you’ll never learn anything about relationships or yourself in relationships or what you want.
Are there serious things to keep in mind when you start dating? Sure. Here are a few:
- Don’t date people who don’t love Jesus. Period.
- Talk directly about your physical boundaries early and don’t mess around with that.
- Don’t be stupid about when and where you hang out. (don’t put yourself in a situation where violating those boundaries is the easiest thing in the world)
- Be honest with each other and talk about stuff directly.
- Don’t send signals or play games, just talk.
Here’s my advice, sis: Relax. It’s not your fault that you have a whacky view of dating. The church gave it to you. But for heaven’s sake, relax. Go out on a date with this guy this week. If you have fun, go out again. If you guys want to make it official, make it official. Go for it. If this guy loves Jesus and is sweet and kind and he doesn’t flirt with every girl in the room and you just like the way you feel when you’re around him, then yes! Date him!
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