Tuesday, April 9, 2013

To Date or Not to Date

Disclaimer: I married my high school sweetheart and the only boyfriend I ever had.

I feel obligated to start with that statement for a post about dating.  People tend to throw that back at my face, saying, "I don't know what it feels like to have my heart broken," or something of the sort.  Yes, I know.  I have limited experience, and I don't know what it feels like.  Yes, I've got it pretty good, even great.

But that doesn't mean my experiences haven't taught me anything.

I am incredibly passionate about relationships.  Something magical happens when people come together and choose to invest in each other.  And I'm not just talking about romantic relationships.  Friendship, family, strangers.  If you've followed my blog even for a little while, you'll see that I'm a little obsessed with people. :)

My husband and I dated for six years before we got engaged.  Being high school sweethearts, we went through a lot of life changes together.  As a result, people either discredit our relationship as "lucky" because we were one of the few who happened to make it OR accredit us as knowledgeable and wise.

I have to say, what little knowledge and wisdom I have has come as a gift from God and not without my own fair share of struggle.

So, people ask me often for dating advice...or I'm just more than willing to impart something of what I've gleaned in conversation.  Often, the question boils down to, "Should I date (or continue to date)?"

My response is another question: "Are you better together than you are individually?"

I believe in dating in preparation for marriage.  Some may call that courtship.  That's a big word, so I just say: "dating to see if you're good for each other or not."

Note: that does not mean you date with the intention of marrying.  That is very different from dating in preparation for marriage.

The answer to that question requires taking a step back and trying to look objectively at your own life and your relationship, something that may be close to impossible.  Therefore, depend on the opinion of those who truly love you and care about your well-being.  Often, they know you better than you know yourself.

If your boyfriend is controlling or abusive, you are not better together.  If your girlfriend is constantly critical and puts you down all the time, you are not better together.  If you love each other but you do not have similar life goals or world views, you are not better together.  While there is a point where you should fight for your relationship, you cannot change people.  People do change, but that is not your responsibility

The overall aim for dating and marriage and all that mushy stuff is merely to glorify our Creator better.  Our Creator exists in constant relationship; therefore, we thrive in similar situations.  Marriage is an example of that; it is being a team with someone else to exist as one entity.  And if our relationships allow both parties to glorify God better and fuller than we could do by ourselves, that's when you've got something worth fighting for (and you will have to fight for it).

PS - Every relationship is different, and this advice is very general.  Therefore, that should be taken into account before making any drastic decisions.

PPS - I wrote a follow up blog post to this one!  Check it out here: When Two Are Better Than One.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Related Posts:
'Til Death Do Us Part
So This Is Love
525,949 Minutes of Marriage
The Transition from My to Our