First we need to define what I mean by “date”. Because everyone and their mother has a different answer for this.
For this post, “dating” means to pursue someone in a committed relationship that could potentially lead to marriage. This list can also apply to dating in a casual and pre-commitment form – the step before the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship when one is deciding whether it’s even worth getting to know the person in a potentially romantic way – because, depending on who you are, you may not want to even get into anything with someone that you don’t think you’ll marry.
These 5 points are suggested criteria to know whether you (men) should start pursuing, or you (women) should say yes to being pursued by that special someone. If at any point your answer is no to one of these, you can continue on your merry way, focusing on personal growth until you’re ready to come back and reassess.
1. Are you at least one year removed from full dependency on parents?
I’m a firm believer you shouldn’t start a new relationship freshman year in college. And while I know high school sweethearts who have made it to a loving, wonderful marriage, I believe that’s the exception, not the norm. So I err on the side of caution when I advise people to wait until they’re at least one year out from the full dependency of their parents. The first year going to college, getting a “real” job, or moving out changes a person. You either completely change or become solidified in who you already were. Wait for that to happen before you start pursuing any relationships.
2. Is he/she a Christian?
My audience is mostly to Christians so that’s why this is on the list. If you’re not Christian, then skip this step. You don’t want to entertain the idea of romance with a non-Christian because dating is intended to lead to a relationship intended to lead to marriage, and marriage is a sacred, covenant union designed by God to display his unconditional, sacrificial love for the Church. If your spouse doesn’t even believe in the God who designed marriage, it makes it rather difficult to display its intention properly and to be married.
Plus God says not to marry someone of another religion (or no religion). This point and entire post is simply for singles – if you’re already married to someone of a different religion, this doesn’t apply.
3. Are you “ready”?
First of all, is anyone ever really ready? I used to think not. But now I think it’s a hearty yes and no! In a way, we’re never ready for anything, because life and relationships are about constantly growing and learning and developing. But there are people who are definitely NOT, in any way, ready for a committed relationship that could lead to marriage. Basically, you have to know that you are either currently at a place in life that’s ready for marriage or just one step away from that place in life to start pursuing this relationship. Prayerfully determine if you’re ready. If God thinks you’re ready, you are.
4. Is there chemistry?
I’m not talking sexual tension. That’s real, but not a goal, and if it exists pre-relationship, you’ve got other problems we can talk about. I learned the importance of chemistry from my husband because he was looking for it when we were in the pre-commitment stage of dating. It’s not sexual or mystical. It’s simply being attracted to each other and getting along with each other well. Do you enjoy being with this person?
5. What does godly counsel say?
While God’s opinion is the only one that matters, He often uses godly counsel to confirm. I’m not talking about something that’s highlighted in a Christian dating book or a theological Christian living book either. I’m talking godly mentors in your life. Maybe it’s your godly, wise parents, or your former youth leader turned mentor, or your pastor. They need to confirm that you’re in the right place for this, and maybe even that the person you’re considering is the right person to consider.
If you can honestly answer yes to all of these, for heaven’s sake, please ask the girl to coffee! Ladies, please tell him you’d love to catch Taco Bell after class! Just give it a try! There’s risk in everything. If you’ve answered yes to each of these, I’d say this one is worth the risk!