People are always caught up in the idea of one day finding their “soul mate.” We all feel as though we were made to be in relationships, and therefore we spend most of our time listening to stories and advice on how to be successful in our dating relationships. With dating being such a prevalent topic, I want to discuss some practical ways of what dating should and should not be.
DATING IS NOT SHOPPING
In our culture a very common way of dating is what I call the “Test Drive Method.” When people see a man/woman that they are physical attracted to, they automatically seek to find some form of relationship with them. In these types of relationships people tend to focus more on what the other person can do for them sexually, mentally, and emotionally, and the moment any problems arise they are ready to break up.
This mentality is directly related to the reasoning people use when they are shopping for a car, because the focus is only on the physical attraction and what the other person can offer them. As people are test driving each other for short periods of time, they objectify themselves and view the person they are dating to be nothing more than a new ride that is only worth temporary thrills.
DATING ISN’T JUST FOR FUN
Another picture of dating is when people date with the aim of having fun and making shallow commitments. If you are only with someone for the sake of your enjoyment, then you’re belittling that person to the status of a personal play toy in your life.
People are complicated beings with emotions that are affected by every relationship they have or haven’t had. For example, a girl who has been with so many guys who have treated her wrong will become numb to the idea of giving or receiving love. Or a guy who has played with so many girls’ hearts will grow up never learning how to treat women properly. Instead of being so focused on themselves, people should be careful to consider the well-being of the people that we are in relationships with.
It should be clear that dating for fun is selfish, damaging, and pointless, and if people are only in a relationship to seek their own personal enjoyment then what they’re asking for is a fantasy life and not a real relationship.
DATE TO MARRY
Now I think the only solution to what real dating should look like is if people start embracing the idea that they should date with the intent to marry. This does not mean that you will or must marry whoever you date, but it does make marriage the ideal and end goal. To some, this may sound like an archaic way of thinking, but I will give a few reasons why this is the best and most mature way to date:
Dating with the intent for marriage gives both individuals plenty of time to think deeply about their intentions before engaging on a more intimate level with one another. A lot of times people are able to put up fronts when they are with someone alone in an one on one environment, but if a person is able to observe someone their interested in for a while from a distance or within groups, it allows them to get a better assessment of that persons true character.
It would be immature to say that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone after just meeting them, so by aiming towards marriage you create a real purpose for the relationship which will demands a long term commitment.
SERVICE NOT SELFISHNESS
Relationships are not supposed to be primarily based on what an individual can get from another person, but based on how each individual can lovingly serve and benefit one another. The best standard of a serving relationship that exist is presented in Ephesians 5:25 in these words,
Husbands, love you wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
This verse also speaks to men in taking the initiative in relationships by giving themselves up for the sake of the woman and the relationship. This doesn’t mean the women are supposed to sit idle, but it’s teaching that men should take lead as they both work together to pursue a loving relationship.
The time to start dating isn’t based on a particular age, but it should be based on a level of maturity that each person should have. One of the primary reasons that American marriages end in divorce over 50% of the time is due to the immaturity and selfishness of the people who are in relationships. Any little kid can play girlfriend and boyfriend with various people, but a mature person will accept the responsibility of a real dating relationship that will lead towards marriage.
The type of dating that is common in our culture is so far from God it’s not even mentioned in the Bible. We were created by God to reflect His image and live out His purposes, and one of the primary institutions that we have to demonstrate this picture is the beautiful union of marriage.
If marriage is not the aim of a dating relationship then it’s simply giving in to “youthful lust and its passions” and God is displeased.
The standards of dating in our times are far too low, and I hope that this article presents a higher standard that not only benefits us physically, emotionally, and sexually, but also encourages us to consider the long term implications of being in a dating relationship.
Think before you Date