The Lost Art of Dating
First the bad news: dating isn’t working (if it’s still happening at all).
I know. Not much of a newsflash, BUT what I hope you will find insightful is why.
There was a time when dating had a purpose. In general, dating represented an intentional step toward maturity, when young adults would enter and develop relationships with members of the opposite sex. Specifically, the goal of dating was marriage.
No! That didn’t mean you automatically married whoever you dated, but you at least dated with that end game in mind. This naturally, impacted the way dating relationships were initiated and carried out.
However, as our culture became more narcissistic, dating became more and more about fun than the future; more about the pleasures of adolescence than the progression toward adulthood.
Now the predictable outcome of this dumbing-down of dating is here.
Dating is cool only with the Disney crowd; elementary school kids who want to play at being grown up. And that’s literally what they’re doing: pretending to be married. “Sorry guys. I’d love to meet you after school, but I promised my girlfriend I’d work on her bike. She’s got this whole honey-do list for me. Yeah. I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious between us.”
By the time you reach high school, most are more or less over dating. You’re now aware many adults don’t so much stay married. And those who do stay married are boooooooring and out of touch with what’s cool or relevant or modern or whatever. So pretending to be married loses it’s luster.
But as your interest in marriage (and vicariously, dating) wanes, your interest in sex intensifies. Marriage may appear to be at best a dead-end, at worst a devastating disappointment, but sex appears to be a grownup activity that speaks to your soul.
And so with our culture, awash in sexual propaganda, and your brain, awash in hormones, you go off to college! Who needs dating when you can simply hook-up without any effort at all: no invitation, no planning, no anticipation, no expectations (other than sexual activity)?
However, here’s the problem: we weren’t made to have sex. To quote a previous Date Night Advice (DNA) post, TOP10 Things Sex has in Common with the Apocalypse: “Admittedly, the way the genders fit together it’s obvious we were designed to have sex, but sex was never the reason God made us. It’s not why we’re here.”
Having said all of that, if the bad news about dating is that it’s lost it’s purpose, than the good news is that dating can work if we rediscover that purpose!
Just think about this: what if your dating life could reflect the reality that you were born to make friends more than to make out? What if dating became, once again, a step into maturity? And what if it could be that, and still be fun? Even better, what if dating could be a truly meaningful, life-enriching experience, instead of some sort of minefield you had to tip-toe through hoping to reach the other side alive. With a mate. One you actually wound up still liking on your 50th anniversary?
At Future Marriage University (FMU) we believe dating can be like that! That’s why we talk about purpose-driven dating. In fact, Purpose-Driven Dating is the capstone session in a discussion series we affectionately call Friends Don’t Let Friends Date Dumb (the SADD* Conversation).
We’ve already shared the bulk of the content from one of the other sessions in that series: TOP10 Dumbest Reasons to Date. That sessions is more about what not to do.
Now in the coming weeks we’ll address the flip side, as we walk through the idea of purpose-driven dating. In the meantime I strongly encourage you to read or review the dating motives that haven’t been working (at the TOP10 link above).
And consider discussing these questions with a couple of friends:
- What should the purpose of dating be?
- How can you make marriage the end game of dating without putting too much pressure on the dating experience? Can you?
- Have you seen how the failure of marriage and the promise of sex has distorted the way our culture approaches dating? Have you seen it impact your own dating life?
- What other factors do you see that have changed the “dating game”? (Please share in the comment section below!)
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!