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Date to Find a Mate

(Dating Stigma Series 1 of 4)

As I’ve been guiding and coaching young adults through relationships, I’ve noticed two

approaches to dating: the first is that people are dating just to date, with no real vision or plan

for it. The second is that people are afraid to date because they were taught that dating is

wrong. Dating is often associated with feelings of guilt and shame for some. Today I’d like to

address the latter as I begin this stigma series around dating. 

If you grew up in the late 90s or 2000s, you’ve heard of or read I Kissed Dating Goodbye by

Joshua Harris. If you haven’t, it’s about forgoing the idea of dating and focusing more on

courtship. While the idea sounds good on paper and totally made sense to me as a teenager

reading it, knowing it wasn’t the right time for me to be in a relationship, it had some flawed

ideas. Besides the fact that Joshua Harris is no longer married or a Christian and this post isn’t a

book review, I’d like to point out that his messages weren’t always accurate. He has even

published a statement and made a documentary retracting his book. These messages mixed

with purity culture in American Christianity, and conservative culture in the Orthodox church,

led many away from dating. (Just to clarify, when I talk about dating, I’m referring to dating

with the intention of marriage and not the contemporary version of dating that society has

perverted in so many ways.)

This, in turn, placed a lot of pressure on a person as they entered any relationship. People felt

like they had to be 100% sure about a person before entering a relationship. Which is really the

whole purpose of dating, isn’t it? Dating is where you are meant to get to know someone to

figure out if they’re the right person for you. If you’re able to know this person as a friend

before dating, that’s wonderful. But if you’re meeting them out of your normal routine, it might

be hard to do so. 

Taken to an extreme, some young adults became overwhelmed with the pressure on dating

that they became fearful and doubtful of the whole process. On the contrary, if dating is done

in the right way and at the right time, it can be a fruitful experience. As long as you’re respectful

about getting to know someone with the intention of turning it into a serious relationship, if

things are working out, you have nothing to fear. Keep your intentions and actions pure, so

there are no regrets about getting physically intimate with someone before marriage. Guard

your heart and be wise about when and how you share confidential information with the

person you’re dating. Get guidance along the way and make sure you’re not isolating yourself

from your support system. Keep yourself grounded; there is no shame in going on a date with

someone and spending time together. 

Debra Fileta, in her book True Love Dates (a book I highly recommend), writes, “Dating with no

regrets means keeping your focus on Jesus, so that no matter what happens in your

relationships with others, your relationship with God remains intact.”

Dating with no regrets is the best kind of dating. I’d even take it a step further and advise that

you should be leaving the person better than you found them, not worse in the case of

breaking up. In your relationship, you should help each other grow towards Christ while finding

out if you’re suitable for one another. Date in a respectful and honorable way. Avoid the mind

games and do your best to be a good communicator, always leading with honesty and

transparency. Respect their boundaries and establish your own. Lead with love, placing your

partner’s wellbeing before your own and not helping yourself to anything that isn’t yours. Enjoy

the process! There is fun in the novelty of meeting someone new and unfolding the possibilities

of a potential future together.

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