Perhaps no area of my life is more confusing or dramatic than dating. Questions like “Does she like me?”. “Do I really like her?”, “What did she mean by that?”, and most importantly, “How am I trusting God in this situation?” will likely continue to be big issues until I find the upcoming Mrs. Robinson. But while this area of life can often be confusing, there are some ground-rules I’ve established that make everything much simpler and less dramatic. Furthermore, while these ground-rules do not prevent all sinning, they set certain parameters that act as a shield against common pitfalls in dating.
Here are some of the main ones:
1. No romantic interaction, insinuation, or even contemplation of dating girls who do not have an exemplary walk with Jesus Christ. If there’s a possibility of marrying this girl, I would be violating both God’s word and Henry Scougal’s wise maxim about how we become conformed to the things which we love. This leads well into rule #2…
2. Dating relationships (aka Romantic Dating) exist as a means of determining marital possibility, not merely for “having fun”. While going on one date with a girl does not constitute a dating relationship, or romantic dating – continuous, regular, one-on-one interaction will happen only between me and someone I am thinking seriously about pursuing unto marriage.
This leads well into rule #3…
3. No dating girls who have boyfriends. To many girls in the 21st century, this apparently seems like an obsolete rule. More than once, this rule has been called into question under the grounds of, “If my boyfriend and I are both ok with hanging out with other people…why do you have a problem with it?” The truth of the matter is, my principles in dating are fairly inflexible, and they are not based on other people’s principles. I know if I had a girlfriend and she were hanging out one-on-one with another guy, I’d likely be jealous, a bit nervous, and perhaps even suspicious of him. This is a good thing, since we’re talking about relationships of loving commitment. The fact that some guys don’t make a big deal about it with their girlfriends doesn’t lend me any necessary consolation about their relationship.
4. Almost no physical interaction outside of short hugs and side hugs with girls with whom I’m not in a dating relationship. Sometimes I even hesitate to hug some girls based on this same precept. In the past, I think some people mistakenly assume I’m a very un-physical person who doesn’t enjoy physical expression in a relationship. Quite to the contrary, I enjoy physical expression very much. So much, in fact, that I realize I how important it is for me to err on the side of caution. I have very deep-seated desires for physical interaction with a woman, and I limit my physical interaction because I want to guard my own heart from false satisfaction and sinful indulgence of the flesh. Even in small things, this can be a temptation.
5. Very little physical interaction with the girl I choose to date. Specifics? No kissing. If I’m going to be with this woman the rest of my life, I’ll have plenty of time to kiss her. Limited cuddling. Basically a prolonged side hug whilst sitting next to each other watching a movie. Holding hands? Yes. Does this seem boring? Even to me it does; but I think it’s very wise. If the relationship is everything it should be, anything more than this is unnecessary as long as we’re just dating. If the relationship doesn’t work out, I don’t think there’s any room for feeling guilty about doing any of this with someone I was sincerely interested in.