How to Date
Several years ago, while visiting the Grand Canyon I hiked deep into the canyon to see a waterfall. As I trekked along the Colorado River, I met a young couple who were heading to the same waterfall. They invited me to join them, but I felt they would slow me down. As I raced on ahead, I began to fear I had missed the falls. As panic set in I scrambled up a cliff and startled a deer which caused me to fall back and tumble down the rocky canyon. As I lay there, I heard the sound of descending water. Following it, I found the sweet couple I had passed earlier, enjoying their lunch at the base of the falls.
I tell this story to illustrate a reality: the couple and I both got to our destination, but I took a less efficient and not-so-fun route to get there. This illustrates modern dating. People are finding love every day. Yet the journey is taking considerably longer—many people don’t get married until they pass thirty-years-old. In past generations the trails were clearer, but now we are forging through the wilderness with no equipment, no guide, and half a granola bar. We are making it, but we’re getting pretty beat up along the way.
The rules of dating have become ambiguous and uncertain. Dating should be associated with words like fun, exhilarating, and uplifting. But far too often, the words I hear associated with dating are sad, exhausting, and stressful. As someone who loves my young, single friends, I want a better journey for them. And a better journey is possible! The path to love can be painful, but there is a way to navigate it that can avoid needless pain.
Much of the distress today has been caused by the lack of any intentional dating process. Notice I say process—the word implies movement. Dating should be a series of actions toward a predetermined end. It is not a status you sit in without any kind of momentum. It’s meant to be a process of evaluation that has an ending point—a destination called marriage.
This process is characterized by timeless principles rooted in the character and love of God. Note I call them principles, not steps. Steps would be easier—just follow the instructions and you’ll be happily married! Dating does not work this way, for relationships are too dynamic. Dating is more like sailing across the ocean than assembling a product. Steps won’t work when you are crossing the ocean on a boat. You cannot get turn-by-turn directions, because the environment is dynamic. Who knows what storms you will encounter along the way?
Principles, however, can save your life at sea. Knowing how to chart according to the stars, or how to use a compass, or how to chart with a map and sextant, can see you through. In the same way, your principles in dating can help you handle any challenge that comes up. That information will get you from the shores of singleness to the port of marriage.
Following the principles I will cover in the next two readings will require you to have your head and heart in the game. It will take work. But this work will become an adventure (albeit with risks) that makes it worth the effort. These guiding principles—if you apply them to your dynamic dating environment—will lead you safely through the tempestuous waters of dating.
What words do you associate with dating? What are your expectations about how to date? What is your mindset?
What does it mean for dating to be a process? What actions are involved in engaging in the process of dating? What is your destination on this journey? If you are not interested in marriage, what are your options for having healthy relationships?
What relationship skills do you need to work on to date successfully? How are you at listening, watching and evaluating the people you meet? How can this process be an adventure?
Adapted From: Dating You Version