What exactly is dating? In this discussion we will define it as any social activity in which your romantic interest is focused on one particular person and that person’s romantic interest is focused on you. Whether in a group or in private, whether on the phone or in person, whether in the open or in secret, if you and a friend of the opposite sex have a special romantic understanding, it’s dating. But are you ready to go down that road? A consideration of three questions will help you to find out.
What Are Your Intentions?
In many cultures dating is regarded as a legitimate way for two people to become better acquainted. But dating should have a noble purpose—to help a young man and woman determine if they would be suitable marriage partners for each other. Why?
The Bible uses the phrase “bloom of youth” to describe the time of life when sexual feelings and romantic emotions become strong. (1 Corinthians 7:36) To maintain close association with one particular member of the opposite sex while you are still in “the bloom of youth” can fan the flames of desire and cause you to learn the hard way the wisdom of Galatians 6:7: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”
Granted, some of your peers might date without any intention of marriage. They may view their opposite-sex friend as nothing more than a trophy or an accessory to be seen with in public to boost their own self-esteem. Playing with someone’s affections in that way is cruel, and it comes as no surprise that such relationships are often short-lived. “Many young ones who date break up with each other a week or two later,” says a youth named Heather. “They come to view relationships as transitory—which in a sense prepares them for divorce rather than for marriage.”
Recreational or casual dating—pairing off merely for fun or for the sake of having a boyfriend or a girlfriend—can easily lead to hurt feelings. Consider Eric, who at age 18 was innocently enjoying what he thought was just a close friendship with a girl. Then he became aware that for her the friendship meant something more. “Wow! Was I surprised at how fast she got serious,” Eric says. “I really thought we were just friends!”
Of course, it’s not wrong to mix with members of the opposite sex in properly supervised group settings. When it comes to dating, though, it is best to wait until you are past the bloom of youth and in a position to contemplate marriage seriously. That is what a youth named Chelsea came to appreciate. “Part of me wants to say that dating should be just for fun,” she admits, “but it’s no fun when one person is taking it seriously and the other isn’t.”
You’re How Old?
You might be among the many youths who are wisely putting off dating until they’re old enough to know themselves better. That is what a young Christian named Sondra has decided to do, even though she is already of legal age to marry. Sondra reasons: “In the dating process you want someone else to get to know you. But if you don’t know yourself, how can you expect someone else to figure you out?”
Danielle, 17, feels similarly. She says: “Thinking back to two years ago, what I would have looked for in a potential mate was so different from what I would look for now. Basically, even at this point I don’t trust myself to make such a decision. When I feel that my personality has been stable for a couple of years, then I’ll think about dating.”
Are You Ready to Get Married?
Since dating is a stepping-stone to marriage, you would do well to ask yourself if you can tackle the responsibility that comes with being a husband or a wife—or even a father or a mother. How do you know if you’re ready for that? Consider the following.
▪ Relationships How do you treat your parents and siblings? Do you often lose your self-control with them, perhaps using harsh or sarcastic language to make a point? What would they say about you in this regard? How you deal with family members indicates how you will treat a mate.—Ephesians 4:31, 32.
▪ Finances How well do you handle money? Are you always in debt? Can you hold down a job? If not, why not? Is it because of the job? the employer? Or is it because of some undesirable trait on your part? If you cannot responsibly handle your own finances, how will you do so for a family?—1 Timothy 5:8.
▪ Spirituality If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, what are your spiritual attributes? Do you take the initiative to read God’s Word, to engage in the ministry, and to participate at Christian meetings? If you are not maintaining your own spirituality, how will you encourage a mate to do so?—2 Corinthians 13:5.
These are just a few things you need to consider if you are thinking about dating and marriage. In the meantime, you may interact with members of the opposite sex in appropriate group settings. Later, if you choose to date, you will have a better idea of who you are and of what you need in a lifelong partner.
(This is an excerpt from the article, 'Young People Ask . . .When Can I Start Dating?' from the Watchtower Online Library.)
For more about dating from JW.ORG:
DATING (Social) - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)
The Bible’s Viewpoint - Dating With a View to Marriage (g 2/10 pp. 12-13; Watchtower Online Library)
YOUNG PEOPLE ASK - Am I Ready to Date? (JW.ORG)
What is dating? What is the purpose of dating? Am I old enough to date? Why wait to date?
Young People Ask . . .When Can I Start Dating? (g 1/07 pp. 27-30; Watchtower Online Library)
Are We Just Friends—Or More? (g 7/12 pp. 16-19; Watchtower Online Library)
Secret Dating—What’s the Harm? (yp2 chap. 2 pp. 21-27; Watchtower Online Library)
What’s Wrong With Dating Secretly? (g 6/07 pp. 26-29; Watchtower Online Library)
“Should I Try Internet Dating?” (g05 4/22 pp. 16-18; Watchtower Online Library)
Can Internet Dating Really Be Dangerous? (g05 5/22 pp. 12-14; Watchtower Online Library)
Young Dating—What’s the Harm? (g01 12/22 pp. 25-27; Watchtower Online Library)
How Can I Avoid Premarital Sex? (g04 8/22 pp. 16-18; Watchtower Online Library)
What if My Parents Think I’m Too Young to Date? (g01 1/22 pp. 19-21; Watchtower Online Library)
How Should I Treat a Girl Who Shows Interest in Me? (g05 6/22 pp. 18-20; Watchtower Online Library)
How Far Is Too Far? (yp2 chap. 4 pp. 42-47; Watchtower Online Library)
Is This Person Right for Me? (yp2 chap. 3 pp. 28-41; Watchtower Online Library)
Should We Break Up? (g 1/09 pp. 18-20; Watchtower Online Library)
Why Does He Treat Me So Badly? (g04 5/22 pp. 19-21; Watchtower Online Library)
How Can I Turn Him Down? (g01 3/22 pp. 12-14; Watchtower Online Library)