Why do I date and when am I ready?
I began this message with the question, why do we date? The students had several answers. For fun, to find a mate, to learn what and who you like, and so on and so forth. So really, why do we date? Is it to find Mr. or Ms. Right? Is it to have fun, go out, and do things as a couple because the world is organized around coupledom?
I admit. Dating can be fun, it can help us to learn more about the opposite sex and it is certainly an exciting thing to do that teenagers rush into as soon as they can. But what is its real purpose? Ultimately it is to find someone who you would want to spend the rest of your life with. This very rarely happens in high school by the way. 1 in 10 relationships last over a year and less than that make it more than two or three years. If you are dating to find a mate now, the odds are stacked against you.
The world is so bend around dating that telling teens not to date at all most likely isn’t the answer either. We can tell teens that they shouldn’t date until they are older, more mature, and able to know where there life is going and what they want and need, but it won’t stop them from dating. So we have not helped them at all. Really what needs to be taught here is dating smarts. What can teens do to make their dating relationships both successful and godly? That is the purpose of the rest of this series. However, I do want to make the point that it is ok to not date. It is ok to wait, regardless of what everyone else is doing. If 40 million people believe in a dumb idea it is what? Still a dumb idea. So you don’t have to follow the crowd. It is best if you wait to date, but if that just isn’t going to happen or if you want some tips on dating in the future when you do decide to start dating then here are some basic steps to take to start the process.
Dating doesn’t begin with just finding someone who you think is a cutie and trying your hardest to get them to notice you until ya’ll get together and smooch. Doing everything with feelings, emotions, and with sight is the wrong way to start a dating relationship. Dating involves using your head! The first thing you need to do is discover something about yourself: What do I want in a partner? What don’t I want? How do I communicate what I want or need? How do I meet others needs without disrespecting myself or them? What does it really feel like to love and to be loved?
“But what I’ve noticed is that way too often, people get involved and immediately try to force the other person into being their image of what a partner is supposed to be. They ignore red flags, bad behavior, incompatibilities, and try to change the person instead of realizing that this is not the right person for them. Dating is a selection process. The problem is that most people don’t have a clear idea of what they’re looking for. That’s why it’s important to make a list of qualities that you’re looking for. Then, when a person falls short of matching that list, it’s important to say, “Next.”
Here is the first question I have for you: Do you have a realistic idea of what you’re looking for in a partner, or is a fairy tale running the show? You must stop to consider exactly what you want and why?
I asked our students to list characteristics of a perfect mate. Starting with the guys and allowing only the guys to speak I asked this question. Their answers looked somewhat like this: Cute, Blonde, Godly, Christian, Plays X-Box, Not bossy, nice, goes to church, doesn’t nag, prays. For the girls I did the same question and their answers looked like this: Hot, smells good, good sense of fashion, hunts, short hair, nice bod, Christian, treats me like a princess.
While their list was not exactly like these listed, it was similar. Once we had our lists we talked about things that were important such as Godliness, kindness, love, commitment, purity, church, holiness, praying, growing, being Christian and things that were good characters to look for in a person. We then pointed out those things that were superficial like hot, smells good, plays xbox, hunts, fashion. We crossed out the superficial things and circled the good things. Now you have a list of things to look for in someone you date. If the person you are thinking about dating doesn’t have all of the circled qualities then you need to say “Next!” If they have all the superficial qualities and few of the others then it is not the right relationship for you.
Maybe the problem with dating is not that you are doing it, but that your priorities are all messed up. Maybe God needs to change your perspective about who you date and what you look for and need. Some of these qualities are superficial and will fade away with time and you have to ask yourself the questions, will you no longer like the person when they do?
What is the point of dating if the other person doesn’t match your idea of a perfect mate? It is a waste of your time, your emotions, and if you go to far it could be a waste of your purity.
I asked the students to share their list with a friend and allow the friend to be honest about the qualities of someone they consider dating.
The world tends to think of dating as a system of disposable relationships, and the social necessity of being in a relationship is incredibly high but you also need to know that waiting is not impossible. Can you wait for the person that matches your list? By gaining self worth from God, you can wait patiently for the special person God has for you and save yourself a ton of hassle along the way.
Put more work into what is most important, who you are:
The most important thing that you need to know before you begin dating is who you are. Work on your internal qualities and your relationship with God and allow God to take over the rest.
If you spend all of your time trying to become something other than what you are in order to win over some boy or girl you like you are lying to them, you are trying to change yourself, and you will ultimately be disappointed every-time.
However, once you begin to know who you are, you will be able to understand what you need better.
The best way to date is the place it in the hands of God:
Psalm 37:3-4 “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
While I believe it is important to take care of ourselves and our physical appearance, it is even more important to develop our character, spiritual life, and personality. What is inside will last forever. The qualities that are on our lists are qualities that are internal and not external. Wait for the one that fits your list and you will save time, money, and heartache along the way.