I have strong opinions about certain things, and that means I tend to step on toes. It’s not that I mean to, but when I allow myself to enter into a conversation regarding one of these things, my passion sometimes comes across as dogmatic and overbearing. I ask for grace as I’m a work in progress.
Recently, a speaker in our youth weekend service said something that really caught my attention. It wasn’t the topic of the message, but he said something incredibly profound that gave me more reason to stick with my opinion on one particular thing – dating.
Now, before I continue, I want to preface by saying that I am well aware I am not in the majority on my thoughts regarding dating, so if you are in the majority, we can decide here and now to agree to disagree.
I’ll just spit it out – Children, tweens and teens should not date.
Two Reasons to Wait on Dating
- The Purpose of Dating
One thing I stress to all of my children is that there is a purpose – and only one purpose – for dating. That purpose is to find the person you will marry, and since they are not getting married while in elementary, middle school, or high school, there really is no reason to spend time and energy on dating someone else’s future spouse.
Sure, it’s possible to marry someone you know or maybe even someone you date during that time in your life, but the likelihood of that is slim to none, and the divorce rate of those who marry right out of high school is extremely high. Studies show there is a significant decrease in divorce rate the later in life a person marries. The probability of divorce actually more than doubles for those who marry out of high school versus those who marry at the age of 25 or later (reference.com).
If someone you meet during those years is who you’re supposed to marry, that person will still be there when the time is right.
- Allow for Growth
There is a drastic change that happens to a person from their teens to mid-20s. Dating someone during those formidable years won’t allow for proper growth within yourself. You have to allow time to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in order to have a healthy and lasting relationship, and this just doesn’t happen when you connect yourself so closely and intimately to another person.
This is also why you hear people complaining that their significant other is not who they were when they first started dating. If you started dating in high school, and you’re now in your 30s, do you really want that person to be the same? Are you the same?
Ultimately, it comes down to asking one vital question:
What’s the purpose for you dating this person you want to date? Usually a young person is not going to answer with, “Because I want to marry him/her,” and if that’s not the answer, then there truly is no reason to date this person.
People who disagree with me on this almost always ask, “How do you know you want to marry someone if you don’t date them?”
That’s easy – you become friends first.
My husband is the first person I became friends with before dating, and our first date was the best date I’ve ever had! I knew on our first date that I was going to marry him. To most, that statement sounds absurd, but I truly did. We had spent a year becoming friends and getting to know one another, so we had already seen things in each other that are typically kept hidden by people who date when they don’t know each other. We wanted to date despite those imperfections we had already seen in one another, so our date was authentic. We weren’t pretending to be something we aren’t, and I knew that evening without a doubt that I wanted to marry him.
Now, becoming friends first can be tricky. When you know feelings are already there and that you want to become more than friends, it’s important you set clear boundaries BEFORE spending time with one another. Start by listing what friends do together and what couples do together. When you see things on the couples’ side that aren’t on the friends’ side, then you know where to begin when setting your boundaries.
Dating is so much more important than what our culture makes it out to be. Our kids are already inundated with the perception that dating, love, and sex is no different than waving to your neighbor. All of these things have the ability to drastically shape a person’s future.
I understand that my way of thinking isn’t popular, and I understand it makes me an outcast, but I am completely okay with that.