1. First of all, you are not ready to date until you are fully aware of both the benefits and the dangers of dating.
Once you understand not only the perks but also the pitfalls of dating, you are mature enough to begin opening yourself up to more serious relationships. The primary benefit of dating is the opportunity to get to know someone new, to build a new friendship with a member of the opposite sex. This is important for developing self-confidence and social interaction skills as well as for learning respect for each other as persons of worth, value, and dignity. At the top of the list of potential dating pitfalls is the danger of becoming physically and emotionally involved too quickly at too deep a level, leading to inappropriate behavior.
Human beings are social creatures, and we relate to each other on three levels:
- mind, and
To put it another way, we interact with each other in the spiritual (spirit), soulical (mind), and physical (body) dimensions.
This progression is very important. Healthy relationships should always begin at the spiritual and intellectual levels — the levels of purpose, motivation, interests, dreams, and personality. The physical dimension is the least important of the three, yet that is where we usually start. Our Western culture has completely reversed the process. Everywhere we turn in society—the media, the entertainment industry, the educational system and even, many times, the church —the focus in relationships is on physical attraction first.
Healthy relationships should always begin at the spiritual and intellectual levels—the levels of purpose, motivation, interests, dreams, and personality.
Young people today face great temptations and are under tremendous pressure from every quarter to jump immediately to the physical in a relationship. Physical attraction leads quickly to deep emotional involvement and the couple hasn’t even had a chance to find out whether or not they share similar interests, dreams, or views on life. By the time those things come out and they begin to discover that they are not on similar levels spiritually or intellectually, it is too late because they are already emotionally entangled, making it extremely difficult to break off the relationship. Too often they simply plunge ahead with their emotional connection, resulting in frustrated and unfulfilled life dreams.
Before you start to date someone you are interested in, ask yourself, “Am I aware of the benefits as well as the dangers of dating this person?”
2. The second prerequisite for dating readiness is a good understanding of God’s standards for relationships.
You need to learn or work out a clear set of guidelines for behavior based on God’s Word, or you are not ready to date. This requires a certain degree of spiritual maturity. Waiting until you are in a dating situation to decide what is right or wrong or what you will or will not do is too late. Unless you settle those matters in your heart and mind beforehand, you will have little protection against temptation and could easily go too far. There are only two choices: either you will follow God’s standards by deliberate choice, or you will follow the world’s standards by default. Unless you plan ahead to keep yourself pure on a date, you probably won’t.
Our modern society has come up with some weird criteria for dating. Some say that a person is ready to date upon entering puberty, or upon becoming a teenager. The only criterion for a believer and follower of Christ is to find and follow God’s standards. If you do not know what those standards are or what God’s characteristics are for a balanced spiritual person, then you are not ready to date.
Dating is no place for trial and error. You should not even begin to develop a serious relationship with anyone until you understand what God expects and requires. If you are not sure, find out first.
There are only two choices: either you will follow God’s standards by deliberate choice, or you will follow the world’s standards by default.
3. The third principle for preparing to date follows closely on the heels of the second.
Once you have determined from Scripture what God’s standards are, resolve in your spirit that you will not lower or compromise those standards for any reason, even if it means losing dates.
Many people are willing to compromise moral or godly standards in order to get a date or to hold onto a boyfriend or girlfriend. That is immature behavior and will cause a lot of problems. Standing firm on what you believe in is a sign of both spiritual and emotional maturity. There are no second-class areas of life to God. He is after your best. He wants you to obey Him, follow His Word, and stand firmly on His standards. Anything less and you cannot expect to receive His best.
Close attention to these three principles will help ensure that dating is a healthy and fulfilling experience both for you and for the persons you date.
– Waiting and Dating: A Sensible Guide to a fulfilling Love Relationship