You think about it a lot. You wonder who it will be. You wish it could happen soon but it completely freaks you out. So let’s talk about it: dating.
Marriage is exciting. It’s wonderful, beautiful, and to be desired. It’s also hard, excruciating, joyful, hurtful, and incredibly fulfilling — at least this is what married people tell me, and from watching them, I believe it.
But before anyone can get married they have to go through the process of getting to know a person and pursuing love for them (at least if you practice the Western tradition of pursuing marriage).
Some people call this dating, other people call it courting — there are likely countless terms you could use for the process. In this article I am going to call it “dating” and define it as “the process of finding a spouse.”
I do not claim to be an expert: I realize that many varying opinions about dating float around Christian circles jumping over each other, getting mixed together, and consuming some people. I do not intend to defend a certain set of rules, or refute any. Neither will I pretend like I have the best advice, since I am not even married. Married people have the best dating advice since they have already done it!
My goal is to simply pass on, from one teen to another, some thoughts I have developed from my observations, personal experience, and advice from others.
So here goes:
1. You Don’t Need to Date
Your quality and purpose of life is not determined by whether or not you date or get married.
Always pursue God and health (spiritual, emotional, and physical) and you will be fine. If you meet someone who you want to do life with or that God is laying on your heart to pursue romantically, then you will still be fine.
Either way, the quality of your life is what you make it.
2. Be Mature in All Your Relationships
Feel free to interact with those of the opposite gender. It is not inappropriate; talking to someone does not mean you have a “crush on them” nor does it mean they have one on you.
Do not flirt: you are a grown up. You do not need to flirt in order to have fun with those of the other sex. Avoid doing anything you will regret once you are married.
One question you could ask yourself is “If I were married, would I mind my spouse knowing ‘that’ about me? And if I wouldn’t, then why am I doing it?”
Do not be self-conscious, but self-evaluate. In other words, do not focus on how you are being perceived, but instead focus on how you are making other people feel.
3. Honor Your Parents
They really do know more. Not only do they know more about life, dating, and men and women; but they know you pretty good, too.
Whether it is when, who, or how, honor what they think. Honor does not always mean doing exactly what they want, although it does many times. Rather, honor is placing high value on something. In this case, honoring your parents means valuing their opinions, advice, and rules.
Remember, more than likely they have dated at least once before. Furthermore, the honor you show your parents will set a precedent for how your kids honor you.
4. Do Not Stalk!
Stalking breeds infatuation and is disrespectful. Since “what you feed is what will grow” stalking will likely nurture a fantasy of familiarity and romance in your own head, while it may never have even crossed the other person’s mind.
Also, it is just down-right disrespectful. There is a reason we call stalkers “creepy.” Your crush is not an object for you to drool over, nor do you have to know everything about them or always be around them.
If you want to get to know someone, be bold about it. Talk and interact with them, face-to-face if you can, but give them plenty of room to breathe. If they do not respond in like manner, back off.
5. But Don’t Be Afraid To Date
Marriage is a worthy pursuit. Unless you have been given the gift of celibacy (which is probably not the case, since you decided to read an article about dating), marriage is for you.
The purpose of dating is to see if two people are a match. Do not be afraid if it does not work out, you have still fulfilled your purpose in dating.
6. Remember Everyone’s Story Is Different
There are no formulas for dating. Just because it happened a certain way for your older siblings or friends does not mean it will be that way for you.
For instance, some people fall in love immediately and they have a smooth dating experience. For other people, although God may be leading them, the feelings for each other take time to develop.
Some people date for many years, others date for months, or even weeks. Like any relationship, dating and marriage should not be put into a box.
7. Know the Person Before You Date
Although it is not crucial to be good friends before you start dating, the better you know someone the, well, better.
8. Celebrate the Differences
There will be differences, but they do not have to break the relationship. Enjoy them; laugh at them; be okay with learning. Differences are beautiful.
9. Take Dating Seriously
The reason you are dating is not just to have fun. Pursue the other person and treat them with honor. If you cannot do that, then you should not be dating: it is not fair to either of you. Remember, you are trying to figure out if the two of you are a marriageable match.
10. Lighten Up!
Have some fun! Your relationship is not so important that you cannot enjoy yourselves!
Although “to have fun” is not the purpose of dating, dating should be fun. Make memories! Laugh! Do romantic things, do normal things, do things together, and do things with your friends! Marriage will be one of the hardest things you do, so set a joyful precedent.
11. Always Pursue Spiritual Health First
I mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating: always pursue health. It will benefit all of your relationships, ministry, career, and potential marriage.
If you want a healthy spouse, you need to be a healthy person right now. Any kind of health, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical, takes time and hard work. Start today.