Is it a Date or just Coffee?
OK. Not really. Here’s the real deal…
Purpose-Driven Dating: intentional time invested in one other person for the purpose of growing in intimacy that might lead to a life-giving, life-long marriage.
This week we begin to dissect that definition, starting with the first part:
I don’t think I have to defend the assertion that most dating, as practiced in the Western world is the antithesis of intentional, but I thought it would be helpful to reference three relational practices and then point out their deficiencies.
We Text our “Invite”
Is texting a crime? Only if you’re driving.
However, if you’re actually interested in moving a relationship from a casual friendship to something more serious then you really shouldn’t employ the same casual mode of communication you use to find out when your best friend is getting off work. It’s confusing.
And confusion is the last thing any serious relationship needs to start with. For more advice on what an intentional date invite might sound like, check out this post: How to Ask Someone Out.
We Hang Out
What begins with a text like, “What RU doing 2nite?” Then winds up being another chance to hang out.
Am I saying you shouldn’t hang out with members of the opposite sex. ABSOLUTELY NOT!
To the contrary, we URGE wise individuals to get to know people in group “hang out” sort of situations where you can begin to uncover what makes someone tick and what ticks them off, how they make decisions, what’s important to them, and how they relate to both their friends and new people they meet. Indeed, this is the way you prevent First Date FAILS!
But if you’ve already done that, and because of that sort of interaction you’re thinking something along the lines of, “Me likey!” then don’t be vague. Call a spade a spade and a date a date.
Would that work in any other area of life?
- Education: It’s complicated. (Either you’re in school or you’re not. Either you graduated or you didn’t.)
- Work: It’s complicated. (Either you’re employed or not.)
- Places you’ve lived: It’s complicated. (I think you get the idea.)
In a way all relationships are complicated, since they involve at least two selfish sinners trying to understand and get along with one another. However, it is now common for couples to persist in “maintaining” undefined semi-serious relationships which feel to one or both parties (and often to friends and family as well) like a marriage. They’ll even talk about it that way.
The on-the-ground reality of these sorts of relationships is that the couple relates in a way that is exclusive when it comes to the intimacy shared (that intimacy may be relational, emotional, sexual or any combination), but not exclusive in regards to the commitment shared. Whether they’re “seeing other people” or not, the understanding is that; um; well: there is no understanding.
In their book, The Singlehood Phenomenon, Beverly and Tom Rodgers call the members of this sort of pseudo dating relationship “surrogate soul mates.” In that same book they also talk about the dangers that attend such a relationship.
Why Do We Beat Around the Date?
If you’ve read enough of these DNA posts, you know that we believe motive is of greater import than the actual action, so the real question is, “Why do we have such a problem with intentionality? Why would we rather stay vague and mysterious?”
Why not just say:
- Would you go on a date with me?
- We just started dating.
- We are in a relationship.
Though the motives are many, a couple I’d like you to consider and even discuss with your compadres are these:
- It feel’s dangerous to be upfront. I can’t get turned down if I never ask. I most certainly can if I do. So I don’t actually ask and never risk rejection. Problem solved!
- I believe a serious relationship is defined by my feelings, so if I’m not totally certain how I feel than the relationship remains undefined. Incidentally, it is this exact same perspective on relationships which justifies many divorces.
- I want to keep my options open. It’s called FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), but it isn’t actually fear at all. It’s plain old selfishness. I want the best. I think the best is this person today, but tomorrow who knows?! I don’t, so I refrain from committing wholeheartedly.
You know who sets the absolute standard for intentionality in relationships?
A man who never dated anyone in his life!
Jesus, committed himself to his twelve disciples and never looked back. He chose them, loved them, shared his life with them, and ultimately gave His life for them, even though one would betray Him, another deny Him and all them desert Him in his darkest hour.
If Jesus was so intentional about who He hung out with, how much more should we be with who we date (and for that matter, whether we date)?
That same Jesus can give you the courage, the clarity and the selflessness to be intentional in your dating life. And I’ll pray you let Him!
Next week we’ll address the next part of our definition for purpose driven dating:
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better? And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!