The Dating Game

An Essay By Jenny // 10/18/2007

I was reading articles online the other day and they reminded me why I spent my youth differently from my peers. I have never understood why our current culture is so "into" the dating game. It is entirely illogical to think that spending years going from relationship to relationship during your youth will somehow prepare you for the reality of a marriage relationship. I suppose if the reader's idea of marriage is of yet another temporal relationship, then it isn't that strange to "date" one person after another beforehand, but the historical meaning of marriage - the one that has been the basis of the human family for our species for thousands of years - implies a permanency that is completely undermined by the "dating game". It is easy to see why divorce rates have sky-rocketed since this new idea of "marriage preparation" really started to take hold. Consequently families are being torn apart and we have generations of children who have no idea what a family is even supposed to look like, let alone how to build a healthy one of their own.

I can remember looking around at my friends in Jr. High (Jr. High mind you!) and wondering what in the world they were thinking. They weren't even old enough to drive and they were switching "sweethearts" on a regular basis (and we aren't talking just calling someone a boyfriend but being physical with them as well!) - one day drawing initials with hearts around them, and the next hating the one they had just insisted they loved and ready to move on to someone else. I couldn't understand why they would consider "dating" when they were obviously not going to be together until they were old enough to marry. These "kids" would not be the people they began a family with - why bother with all the heartache in the meantime? Not only did they lose friendships with guys - but often they lost close frienships with girls they had been friends with since kindergarten - all over some "boyfriend" trouble. Why? Even today, as a grown woman, I can not understand why kids do this - and why adults allow it. I must insist that my children will never be allowed to waste their time and their hearts this way. Especially since I know from experience that the dating game isn't necessary.

I knew by the time I was 14 I wasn't going to "date" like my friends. I knew that I would not begin a relationship with anyone if it wasn't going to lead to marriage one day - there just wasn't any point otherwise - and I told myself I would only kiss the man I was going to marry. This kept me away from the messes my friends experienced, and left me time to prepare myself for a real relationship someday. I focused on knowing who I was and what I wanted, and left the rest of my peers to run around like animals in heat. I did not "stay away from boys" entirely, but my friendships with them were just that --friendships. I was able to enjoy having guys as friends and I could really get to know them because I wasn't "looking" for a boyfriend. By the time I was 16 I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for in a marriage partner, and I was comfortable waiting on God's timing. I had finished high school and was planning on Bible College (though the money for that never went through - but I had no way of knowing that at the time), and I was very active helping run a worship service at my church and volunteering in all sorts of different ministries - from nursing homes to job corps Bible studies. I was at peace with myself - and I think that's something young women today rarely find since they are so busy being "in a relationship".

When I met my husband I knew within that first week that he was someone I wanted to know better - even if we barely spoke to each other the whole week. :) Of course, that was a bit complicated for us due to the fact that he was to return to his home state, but I wasn't about to say no when he asked if he could write me. :) It didn't take many letters for us to realize how much we had in common, and by the next fall we were discussing the idea of marriage (though I wouldn't have even been in the "relationship" that far in the first place if I didn't believe we were headed for marriage). We sent letters full of "treasure hunts" - what we called the encouraging Scriptures we wanted to share with each other (written by hand - this was way before email!) - and recorded tapes as audio letters. He would send me cards and other sweet nothings - once he sent me a box of cookies (they ended up flattened in the mail, but I ate them anyway), :) and he even sent me an envelope full of the reddest rose petals with gold glitter (the rose wouldn't mail, but the petals did - I took them, placed them in wax paper, and turned them into a bookmarker for my Bible which I still have). We were able to get to know each other very well. :) I still have all the cards and tapes he sent, and the letters are all tied up with a ribbon in a special "treasure box". The next New Year's Eve he was out visiting my family and asked me to marry him in front of my entire church - he was obviously pretty confident in my answer! :)

When I think back on our special "getting to know each other time" - whatever you want to label it (courtship, dating towards marriage, etc.), I know that I want my boys to have the same kind of memories to cherish. Not necessarily the long distance ones, but I do want them to have the opportunity to enter a relationship looking toward marriage with a whole heart - not one that's been given out to different people a little piece at a time. I'm not sure exactly when our culture began to change the way it looked at relationships - but it's high time something was done about it. I have no desire for my boys to be added to the walking wounded of the "dating game" - and as their parent I can insist that they listen to my reasoning. There is more to marriage than this dangerous "game" would have us believe - and it's time that those of us who know this share that knowledge with the rest of the culture. I just can't believe that this "game" is so much fun that people aren't able to stand back and look at it in a reasonable way - it's like gambling and losing over and over again from your early teens on, and gambling with your most valuable possessions - yourself and your heart.

Comments

seriously

Dating is so pointless.
So so pointless.

Tamerah | Sat, 10/20/2007

Right on!

I like the way you wrote about this. I have relatives who firmly believe that I'll never get married (and one who believes I won't be prepared for marriage) if I don't date. Next time it comes up I'll grab the nearest computer with internet connection, get on here and say "Look! She did it! I can do it too!" :)
Thea

Heather | Tue, 10/23/2007

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Funny Thing

I had plenty of people who thought I was nuts :) - but really, when you think about it logically - it's crazier to try to prepare for a permanent life long relationship by "dating" - it just doesn't make sense. I'm glad you found my story encouraging -- it does help to have "proof" that there are real alternatives to our culture's idea of dating.

My sisters have it really easy - neither of them every really considered playing "the dating game" since they saw me skip it completely. There aren't many 19 and 15 year old girls out there completely heart-whole - their future husbands are going to be very blessed. :) It really is simpler in the long run to leave your love story in God's hands -- He's the Author of Life anyway - I think He can handle it. :)

Jenny | Sun, 10/28/2007

So true

Everything you've said is so true, in so many ways. I agree completely. My guiding principle when it comes to relationships is this: would I be willing to marry this girl? If the answer is no, which it is for most, if not all, of the girls I know, then I'm prepared to just be friends.

I don't currently have a girlfriend and I don't plan on getting one until I can answer that question with a definite "yes!"

I wrote on this topic just a few days ago on my blog, which is here: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/PoorBoyHat.

Keep up the good work! :)

Timothy | Mon, 11/19/2007

Dating is not pointless

Dating's got a point. It's to really get to know a some one, to make sure you want to marry him. It's only pointless when it's at the wrong age, with the wrong person, or for the wrong reason.

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

Lucia | Mon, 12/03/2007

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

. . .

Yeah but you don't go around dating perfect people all the time. And couldn't you just get to know people by being friends, isn't that the best way to really get to know someone? Everyone you date is the wong person until you actually find the one person you are going to be with for the rest of your life. Doesn't that mean that once you've found that person all the dating you did before then was pointless?

Tamerah | Tue, 12/04/2007

Not if you had reallly,

Not if you had reallly, really,really, thought that you could have married that person. I'm too young to date (I'll be allowed to at a college age) and when I do I'll make sure that it's some one who definitely more than a friend. I have boys who are friends now and certainly didn't get to know them by dating. :P I'm not saying there's something wrong with not dating, I just don't see a reason dating is wrong.

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

Lucia | Tue, 12/04/2007

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

. . .

But how many times when dating do you actually consider the person you are having a relationship with to be the one you are truely going to marry? The whole idea of dating is to try people on, see if they fit, and if they don't, get rid of them. Its sets you up for serious problems when you get married, because if you get tired of your husband, it will be the same thing, you tried him on, it didn't work, so you get rid of him, instead of trying to work out the problems. So really the whole procedure would be pointless, and it would just end up giving you a lot of heartache that you otherwise could have avoided.

Tamerah | Wed, 12/05/2007

....

I know... dozens of couples who have been married for fifteen to thirty years, who got to know each other by dating.

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

Lucia | Wed, 12/05/2007

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

. . .

Yes but how many hearts were broken before they got around to dating eachother?

Tamerah | Wed, 12/05/2007

My parents dated each other

They were the first people they had dated and zero hearts were broken.

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

Lucia | Wed, 12/05/2007

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

. . .

But how many people are like that?

Tamerah | Wed, 12/05/2007

about all of my friends' parents

There is a way to handle dating in a Christian way. You don't have to do away with it all together. BTW, how did your parents meet?

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

Lucia | Thu, 12/06/2007

Scio, diligo, servo Deum.

. . .

I'm not saying that you should just not date. And i'm not sure how my parents met, i've never asked, i would assume they dated. But my parents were both divored before they married eachother. I'm trying to say there is a more practical way to approach dating. I guess i'm just not expressing myself very well.

Tamerah | Thu, 12/06/2007

So very accurate...

I'm warmed to know I'm not the only person who follows this path. =)

All my life, being homeschooled, I'd known hardly any girls other than my one sister and a /few/ girls at our church until a year ago when I joined AP. It wasn't long after that I talked to a girl that lived close by and we met each other person to person. But at that time, there was just nothing my brain could think of more than just being friends. During the end of last summer, I met a girl at our county library and we connected in so many ways. We talked for over 5 hours straight, which I could swear is more than I'd talked in the 5 months before that. But even then, I just wanted to be good friends with her. It wasn't until I started public school last fall, that dating ever came into my mind. But right away I saw that it all seemed so pointless. I totally love what you wrote, "enter a relationship looking toward marriage with a whole heart - not one that's been given out to different people a little piece at a time." That is SO true, looking at what everything everyone is going through. So it was basicly then that I decided I wasn't going to have a girlfriend until I was 100% positive I wanted to take it to the next step. I know a lot of girls as friends and when they ask if I have a girlfriend I tell them, "No, and I don't have a need or have found a girl yet I would ask to be my girlfriend." I rescently had a girl tell me she had a crush on me, but after talking with her, we decided it would be best to just be friends. There's only one girl I would consider as a girlfriend or dating, but for now I'm content just being friends. I follow my gut, insticts, and most importantly, what I think God is telling me, and I haven't gone wrong yet. Not that I think I some point I'll trip, but for now, I'm focusing more on myself and learning who I am and being confident in myself. =)

Anyways, thanks. =)

-Matthew

Anonymous | Tue, 01/22/2008

I don't know if you even get emails from here anymore...

But on the slight chance that you do, Jenny, I wanted to tell you about this...
December 2008, one of my good guy friends that I'd known for a couple of years came out to my house and aske permission to court me. We'd emailed and chatted before as good friends, but I didn't know that he was interested in me! It turned out that he and my dad had been talking for a couple of months at that point, and they were both comfortable with forwarding the relationship.
When Justin asked me, I realized that the emotions I'd been wondering about concerning him (what do I feel about him? Is he just a big brother figure? Am I crushing on him?) were nothing more than God gently prodding me into loving Justin and realizing he was the only man I could marry. So I said yes.
I'm writing this two days after our 1st anniversary of courting. September 2009, he proposed--I said yes. Our wedding date is set for March 6th.
I was blessed just now to reread this piece and identify even more with the emotions surrounding it. There's something beautiful about keeping everything pure and whole for your husband. Thank you and you're right--dating is not the way to go!
 

Heather | Wed, 12/23/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Congratulations!

 Heather,

    I didn't bother to take the time to "sign in" so this will look like an anonymous reply - but I'm so excited for you I had to respond right away! :) Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! It sounds like you're going to have quite the beautiful love story to share with your children and grandchildren some day. May God bless you with many years together! It is a beautiful thing to be blessed with someone to journey through life's "sunshine and shadows" with, and I'm so glad you and your fiance were given the blessing of a courtship experience too. God has been good to you (though you already know that)! :)

 

In Christ's Love,

~Jenny

PS If you're on Facebook you can find me there (Jenny Buckley) - I'd love to hear updates!! :)

Anonymous | Wed, 12/23/2009

Wow, Heather, you're

Wow, Heather, you're engaged?  Congratulations!  I'm happy for you.

Bridget | Wed, 12/23/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Ditto to what Bridget said...

Your experience is such a testimony and encouragement to those of us who have decided to (if possible) court as well. Thank you...

Ariel | Wed, 12/23/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville