By Bridget Sengu
There are only two outcomes of relationships: that is to get married or breaking up. The secret is knowing how to handle a dating relationship so you know if the other person is worth marrying or he/ she is honored in the breakup.
Unfortunately, it seems like many young singles struggle to figure out just how to handle dating – and I’m not the only one who’s noticed how weird the Christian dating scene can be. As my friend Natasha, married and in her thirties, recently remarked, “I am sure glad I was not much of a Christian when I started dating my husband!”
I constantly hear old women small groups, murmuring, “My daughter was interested in this nice Christian boy, but he strung her along for a year and a half. The next one did too.” Or, “Buhle acted like they were friends but she told me later that they were hooking up on the side.” With that kind of dismal dating culture at play, let’s consider the options:
First, there’s Duggar Dating (Duggar dating is the modern-day form of arranged marriages). I donot have first-hand knowledge, but thanks to reality TV, I believe it appears to involve asking the woman’s dad if she is available to date, and possibly not kissing until the actual wedding.
Outside the Duggar-verse, there is the less overt but just as prevalent “ideal spouse” dating. This involves judging a potential guy or girl for the 38 qualities you are looking for in an ideal mate—before even grabbing coffee together. It’s like arranged marriages where no one is making the arrangements, and it doesnot seem to work very well.
At the opposite extreme, there is “Faux Christian Dating”—in which young Christians have no idea what to do with dating, so they avoid it. Instead of dating, lots of “hanging out” occurs. “Hanging out”, leads to all kinds of mixed feelings. Does he like me? Is she flirting? What does this text mean? Why did he sit next to me at church? Did she want my sweatshirt because she was cold, or because she likes me?
Sometimes the “hanging out” leads to hooking up, which is another uber-confusing side effect of the Faux Christian Dating cycle.
But what if there was another option? What if Christians just began to date like normal people—not dating toward immediate marriage and not eschewing dating for the less-desirable “hanging out” no man’s land? Here’s what I think it would require:
1) Date indiscriminately
Stop evaluating whether the guy who’s taken an interest in you is strong and tenderhearted enough to raise your future kids.
Stop evaluating whether the new girl at church is hot enough and “low-maintenance” enough for your liking.
If you take notice, if you are intrigued or interested, make a date! Get together—one on one. It is worth spending at least a little bit of time with the person before you decide if they are worth marrying.
2) Date casually
Not every date needs to be a total success. But it’s foolish to think that the way a girl or guy acts in a group of friends is the same as how they’ll act one on one.
3) Date often
Sometimes we all need a little practice with figuring out what we really want–not in terms of our “ideal spouse” but a real flesh-and-blood human.
4) Date toward interest, not toward marriage
“Do you think Christian girls make dating too serious?” I asked several guys recently. “I need a buffer of at least five dates before I’m thinking of any future at all!” said one young man.