Young People Ask . . .
Is Dating Really for Me?
“WHETHER you want to marry the boy or not has nothing to do with it. Dating is just a part of your natural development as a person,” said the older woman to her fifteen-year-old niece, Mary Ann. “You have to accept your chances as they come—good or bad,” she continued. “After all, if you always turn guys down you’ll be unpopular and no one will ask you out.”
Mary Ann, who had just been invited out on a date, faced a formidable problem. She admitted: “I knew I was nowhere near ready for marriage. But Auntie’s words sunk down deep. Would I be cheating myself out of a good opportunity? The boy had his own car, lots of money; and I knew he would show me a great time. Should I date him or not?”
In many countries of the world the answer would have been an unqualified No. The thought of an unmarried boy and girl pairing off to enjoy each other’s company alone is quite unusual. Nevertheless, if you live where dating is the custom, you may wonder, as did Mary Ann: “Is dating really the best course for me?”
Young persons admit that there are a variety of reasons for dating. Some see that “everyone else” has a date and so they do not want to appear different or unpopular. Some youngsters lack self-esteem, so they must “prove” their worth by having a boyfriend or a girl friend. The desire for warmth and affection is definitely a major reason why many young persons date. “I needed to be loved and appreciated,” explained eighteen-year-old Ann. “Since I was not close to my parents, I turned to my boyfriend to find closeness and to have someone to whom I could pour out my feelings who would really understand.” Even though some will date a variety of persons, often they will settle down with one “steady” friend whom they really like and in whom they can confide.
Yet, despite all these reasons, there is another underlying force involved that usually provides the biggest push to date.
“The Bloom of Youth”
When a person reaches the teenage years there is usually a surge of sexual desire as the body becomes able to play its part in procreation. The Bible describes this period as “the bloom of youth” and recommends waiting till one is “past” it before marrying. (1 Corinthians 7:36) At this time most young people will have an increased interest in the opposite sex.
The powerful attraction between the sexes is described in the Bible as ‘intoxicating,’ being able to put one in “ecstasy.” Just being in the presence of one’s sweetheart can make one’s heart beat faster. (Proverbs 5:19; Song of Solomon 4:9; 5:4) Perhaps you have felt such a powerful force. The more contact you have with the opposite sex, the greater this force becomes—whether you want it or not. It is the way you are made. The normal attraction between the sexes can degenerate very quickly to an uncontrollable “sexual appetite.” This can lead to sexual uncleanness and fornication, bringing a host of problems, including a ruined conscience.—Colossians 3:5.
Where dating is popular, some would make you believe that your whole life fails or succeeds based on whether you have a date. This is completely false. By seriously considering some important factors, you can be helped to decide whether you should date or not—regardless of what others do.
Has my personality and outlook on life become fully developed? By not settling down with simply boy/girl relationships, you will be able to enjoy many different types of friendship. You will find through these that you will gain the poise needed to be comfortable with the opposite sex, without the constant pressure to ‘put your best foot forward.’ You will be able to observe married couples and see what qualities make a “capable wife” or a good husband. It will be easier to recognize the kind of mate you want, as well as to see clearly your own role in marriage.—Proverbs 31:10.
Do I want to play with another’s feelings? Mary Ann admitted to herself that she was not ready for marriage. So she asked herself: “Do I just want to learn ‘how to act’ with men at the expense of another person’s feelings? Would I want someone to do that with me?” She decided that she did not. Mary Ann believed and tried to live by the rule Jesus Christ gave: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”—Matthew 7:12.
What do my parents say? Your parents have no doubt proved their love and concern for your welfare. They can often see dangers that, because of your emotional involvement, you may be blind to. Did you know that, according to one survey involving 14,552 teenagers, nearly 93 percent of their parents disapproved of their children’s “going steady”? Of course, not all parents are against dating, but why would so many be against “going steady”? Remember, they were young at one time. Could it be that they know what real problems can develop when a young couple spend much time together? It is with your best interests in mind that the Bible says: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, . . . ‘that it may go well with you.’”—Ephesians 6:1-3.
Do I really want to follow the Bible’s morality? You cannot escape the conclusion that the more you are around persons of the opposite sex, the greater will be your desire for sexual relations. For instance, Michelle, who began to date during her “bloom of youth,” admitted: “If you heat up your body sexually by being in the close company of a boy, the next time you are around him you get warmed up even faster. In fact, sometimes all it would take was a little spark for me to become sexually excited. And it’s so hard to control.” Michelle was not able to control her emotions and committed fornication. Do you personally want to avoid such conduct? Remember, if you toy with what can lead up to immorality you can end up getting deeply ‘burned’ emotionally, physically and spiritually.—1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Proverbs 6:27, 28.
What do I really want in life? Are you ready for the emotional traumas that dating often brings?* Are you ready for the serious responsibilities that come with marriage and caring for a family? Do you want to give up the relative freedom you now have to become emotionally and otherwise tied down? You may wind up feeling as did one sixteen-year-old girl who said: “I am tired and plain disgusted with myself and my preoccupation with boys and dating all the time. I know there are a lot more worthwhile things to be doing, but I seem to be falling into this trap again and again.”
Well, Mary Ann did not ‘fall into the dating trap.’ She said: “I determined that I was not going to be influenced about dating by the attitudes of others. I was not going to date till I was old enough and ready to get married and I saw someone with the qualities I wanted in a husband.”
In time, she did meet a mature Christian man and has now been happily married for over six years. “The interesting thing was that I realized that I did not miss out on anything,” reflects Mary Ann, now thirty-two years of age. “My life has been, and still is, happy and full. Our marriage just added to that joy.”
So be honest with yourself. Seriously consider what is in your best and lasting interest, as well as that of others. Though many of your peers may date, never forget that it takes real emotional maturity to say: ‘I will wait till I am ready for marriage before I date!’
See the article “Is Dating Harmless Fun?” in the previous issue of Awake! The advisability of teenage marriages will be considered in a future issue.
[Blurb on page 14]
“I am tired and plain disgusted with myself and my preoccupation with boys and dating all the time. I know there are a lot more worthwhile things to be doing, but I seem to be falling into this trap again and again.”—A sixteen-year-old girl
[Box on page 15]
Before Dating Ask Yourself:
● Has my personality and outlook on life become fully developed?
● Do I want to play with another’s feelings?
● What do my parents say?
● Do I really want to follow the Bible’s morality?
● What do I really want in life?