Do you ever get overwhelmed when dating, especially if you’re someone who desires to be in a relationship? There are various feelings that singles face and because of that, especially since we all date for different reasons throughout different seasons in our lives. As a married man who dated with intention, I believe that if we approach dating with clarity, transparency, and clear communication, we can avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and heartache. If you’re not convinced, hear me out.
There are generally two mindsets when it comes to dating – singles who date casually and singles who date exclusively. Because of this, there are generally two major outcomes if you take the dating game seriously – singles who do not marry and singles who do marry. I’ve observed singles who date casually or exclusively, yet have no intention to marry, and I’ve also observed singles who date casually or exclusively with the sole purpose and goal of marriage. Dating exclusively with marriage as the end goal can be the right approach for individuals who are ready to take that step. In my book Single To Single: Embracing and Maximizing Your Season of Singleness, I touch on four different types of dating, their outcome, and why dating should bring clarity and not confusion. Check out the four different types of dating that I’ve detailed in my book and how to discern which what is for your now and potentially your later.
CASUAL DATING WITHOUT MARRIAGE AS THE END GOAL
While this is often something that singles do, I don’t believe that this should ever be an alternative for singles who are attempting to date the way God intends. The reason being is that there is absolutely no purpose for two singles engaging in a dating relationship if marriage is not the goal, and it always leads to giving into the temptations of our fleshly desires. This is the complete opposite of intentional dating. According to worldly standards, aimless and casual dating is the most popular way to date. Hooking up with multiple partners may seem harmless, but it can produce emotional discomfort, physical harm and spiritual emptiness. Since casual dating is unintentional, there is not much focus on getting to know the other person, and that leads to a lack of care and understanding. With no real connection between the two, sexual pleasure typically becomes the focal point. With no aim, you are destined to travel anywhere fast or nowhere at all, and you have no way to measure the growth of the dating relationship. Singles who desire to honor God must stay away from this method of connecting with other singles. We cannot treat dating as a mindless activity. It should always be a purposeful engagement.
EXCLUSIVE DATING WITHOUT MARRIAGE AS THE END GOAL
May seem commendable from the outside looking in, but it may actually be the most difficult way to date. Singles who are interested in being in a relationship with someone but never see matrimony in their near future defeat the purpose of dating exclusively. Exclusive dating with no aim of marriage often results in couples cohabitating, which puts the couple in danger of falling into sexual temptation. Society has become more accepting of this, but most importantly, God is not pleased with this type of dating. Without marriage in mind, hearts get broken, relationships get destroyed, and time gets wasted. Say no to a long-term relationship and yes to a life-long marriage. Our aim is a covenant, not a contract.
CASUAL DATING WITH THE HOPES OF MARRIAGE
This method aligns with what God intends because of the desire to marry, but it can still be displeasing if done the wrong way. Some singles understand the importance of marriage, but still battle with dating casually and frequently. When singles pursue marriage by hoping from one casual situation to another, it may speak to a level of desperation that stems from impatience and loneliness. Ultimately, this type of dating lacks faith because the focus is more on what worldly connections and not necessarily spiritual ones. This results in premature relationships that most likely do not end with marriage or if marriage does happen, it was more than likely forced or rushed. Forced or rushed relationships are situations that we must avoid. Being single is not intended for testing the waters, it’s intended for testing the faith. Let’s focus on quality over quantity.
EXCLUSIVE DATING WITH THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE
If the end goal is marriage, this is the most pleasing and proper way singles should date. This is the responsible way of engaging someone that you are attracted to, and it speaks to the level of maturity that a single man or woman possesses. How would you feel if someone expressed interest in you only to find out that they were pursuing or being pursued by someone else? I’m sure that you wouldn’t like that, and neither would I. As we take our time in the dating process, not being so eager to bounce from one person to the next demonstrates patience and trust in God and allowing your steps to be divinely ordered eventually presenting us to our spouse is the right way of dating. Dating shouldn’t be a place for trial and error, but clarity and purpose. You don’t date aimlessly hoping it will all work out, you date with the intent of building.
With the fact that dating is either casual or exclusive and the outcome of dating is either marriage or no marriage, the four points can hopefully aid your understanding when and how you decide to date. There should be no ambiguity when you approach someone in hopes of a dating relationship. This framework can start as a guide for how you approach dating if you choose to use it.