Secret Dating—What’s the Harm?
Jessica was caught in a dilemma. It all started when a classmate named Jeremy began showing interest in her. “He was very cute,” she says, “and my friends said he was the most decent boy I’d ever meet. Several girls had tried to start a relationship with him, but he wasn’t interested in them. He liked only me.”
Before long, Jeremy asked Jessica out. Jessica explained that as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she wouldn’t be allowed to date someone who wasn’t of her faith. “But then Jeremy had an idea,” she says. “He asked, ‘Why can’t we just date behind your parents’ backs?’”
IF SOMEONE you were attracted to made such a suggestion, how would you respond? You might be surprised to learn that Jessica agreed to Jeremy’s plan. “I was convinced that if I dated him, I could make him learn to love Jehovah,” she says. How did things turn out? We’ll find out later. First, let’s see how some get caught in the snare of secret dating.
Why They Do It
Why do some date secretly? A young man named David puts it concisely, “They know their parents would not approve, so they don’t tell them.” Jane points out another possibility. “Secret dating is a rebellion thing,” she says. “If you feel that you’re not being treated like the young adult you think you are, you decide that you’re going to do what you want and just not tell your parents.”
Can you think of any other reasons why some might be tempted to date secretly? If so, list them below.
Of course, you realize that the Bible commands you to obey your parents. (Ephesians 6:1) And if your parents object to your dating, they must have a good reason. Still, don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking:
● I feel left out because everyone is dating except me.
● I’m attracted to someone who doesn’t share my faith.
● I would like to go out with a fellow Christian, even though I’m too young to marry.
You probably know what your parents would say about the above statements. And deep down, you know that your parents are right. At the same time, you may feel like a girl named Manami, who says: “The pressure to date is so strong that I sometimes doubt my stand. For kids today it’s unthinkable not to be dating. Besides, it’s no fun being by myself!” Some in that situation have begun to date, hiding the matter from their parents. How?
“We Were Told to Keep It a Secret”
The very term “secret dating” suggests a measure of deception, and that’s just what it takes to make it work. Some keep their dating secret by communicating primarily over the phone or the Internet. In public, they’re just friends, but their e-mails, phone calls, and text messages tell a completely different story.
Another sly tactic is to arrange for a group activity, only to pair off later. James says: “Once, a group of us were invited to meet at a location, only to discover that the whole thing had been set up so that two in the group could be together. We were told to keep it a secret.”
Frequently, as James points out, secret dating is carried on with the cooperation of friends. “Often, at least one friend knows about the situation but chooses not to say anything because of a ‘don’t-tell’ mentality,” says Carol. At times, blatant dishonesty is involved. “Many keep their dating secret by lying to their parents about where they go,” says 17-year-old Beth. Misaki, 19, did just that. “I had to make up stories carefully,” she says. “I was cautious not to tell any lies other than those related to my dating so that I would not lose my parents’ trust.”
The Pitfalls of Secret Dating
If you’re tempted to date secretly—or if you’re already doing so—you need to ask yourself the following two questions:
Where will my course lead? Do you intend to marry the person reasonably soon? “Dating without the intention of marriage is like advertising something you’re not selling,” says 20-year-old Evan. What can result? Proverbs 13:12 says: “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.” Do you really want to make someone you care about sick at heart? Another caution: Dating secretly will rob you of the loving interest of your parents and other concerned adults. Because of this, you’re more likely to fall into the trap of sexual immorality.—Galatians 6:7.
How does Jehovah God feel about what I’m doing? The Bible says: “All things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” (Hebrews 4:13) So if you’re covering up your own dating—or that of a friend—Jehovah already knows about it. And if deception is involved, you have good reason to be concerned. Jehovah God feels strongly about lying. Indeed, “a false tongue” is listed prominently in the Bible among the things that he detests!—Proverbs 6:16-19.
Ending the Secrecy
Certainly, you would do well to talk to your parents or a mature Christian adult about any secret relationship that you may be involved in. And if a friend of yours is dating secretly, don’t share in his or her course by helping to cover it up. (1 Timothy 5:22) After all, how would you feel if the relationship had harmful consequences? Wouldn’t you be at least partly responsible?
To illustrate: Suppose a friend is diabetic and is secretly filling up on sweets. What if you found out about it, but your friend begged you not to tell anyone? What would be your greatest concern—covering up for your friend or taking action that could possibly save his or her life?
You face a similar situation if you know that an acquaintance is dating secretly. Don’t worry about permanently ruining your friendship. In time, a true friend will realize that you were acting in his or her best interests.—Psalm 141:5.
Secrecy or Privacy?
Of course, not all secrecy surrounding dating involves deception. For instance, suppose a young man and woman would like to become better acquainted, but for a time they do not wish to make that widely known. Perhaps, as a young man named Thomas says, “they don’t want to be teased with questions like, ‘So when are you getting married?’”
Undue pressure from others can indeed be harmful. (Song of Solomon 2:7) Therefore, at the initial stage of a relationship, some may well choose to be discreet. (Proverbs 10:19) “This gives two people time to decide if they’re serious about each other,” says 20-year-old Anna. “If they are, then they can go public.”
At the same time, it would be wrong to hide your relationship from those who have a right to know about it, such as your parents or the parents of the person you’re dating. Really, if you can’t be open about your dating, you should ask yourself why. Do you know in your heart that your parents would have valid reason to object?
“I Knew What I Had to Do”
Jessica, mentioned at the outset, changed her mind about secretly dating Jeremy when she heard the experience of another Christian who was in a similar situation. “After hearing how she broke off the relationship,” Jessica says, “I knew what I had to do.” Was breaking up easy? No! “This was the only boy I had ever really liked,” Jessica says. “I cried every day for several weeks.”
Yet, Jessica knew that she loved Jehovah. And although she had become sidetracked, she truly wanted to do what was right. In time, the pain of breaking up subsided. “Now,” Jessica says, “my relationship with Jehovah is better than ever. I’m so grateful that he gives us the direction we need at just the right time!”
You’re ready to date, and you’ve found someone you like. But how do you know if this person is right for you?
“We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.”—Hebrews 13:18.
You don’t have to broadcast your relationship around the globe. But do tell those who have a right to know. Most often, that includes your parents and the parents of the person you’re dating.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Lasting relationships are built on trust. Dating secretly betrays the trust of your parents and undermines the very foundation of your relationship with the one you’re dating.
If I am dating a fellow Christian secretly, I will ․․․․․
If a friend of mine is dating secretly, I will ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Look back at the three situations highlighted in bold type on page 22. Which, if any, describes how you feel at times?
● How can you address the matter without dating secretly?
● If you knew that a friend was dating secretly, how would you deal with the situation, and why would you choose to do it that way?
[Blurb on page 27]
“I stopped dating secretly. Yes, going back to school and seeing that boy every day was hard. But Jehovah God can see the bigger picture, whereas we can’t. We just have to trust Jehovah.”—Jessica
[Picture on page 25]
Covering up for a friend who is secretly dating is like covering up for a diabetic who is secretly gorging on sweets