'No! Don't date! Arranged marriages all around!' . . . said no one ever. (Okay, actually my roommate just said that but she was kidding. Sort of.)
Yes, you need to date! Dating is an important part of discerning the kind of person you want to marry. How will you know what you're looking for in a marriage partner if you don't experience different kinds of people? I am NOT saying you should be hooking up with everyone. I am saying you can't expect your future spouse to show up on your doorstep and fall in love with you at first sight. All good things take effort.
If you're at the place where you're wondering whether or not you should begin a committed relationship with someone, here's some advice I pulled from the recesses of my wisdom treasure trove.
I hope it's helpful. I think it is . . . unless your goal is to date Harry Styles. I got nothin' for you there. Good luck.
Are you interested in getting to know the person or are you lusting after them? Attraction is important but if it's the only motivating factor to you wanting to date someone that's not okay. That's called using someone. Grow up and learn that love is more than sex and people more than their bodies. Exterior beauty has an expiration date; character doesn't.
2. Your Soul
Will it help or hurt your soul and your future? Every person you date is someone else's future spouse. When you look back on your life you want to be confident that one of your relationships didn't leave someone broken and wounded for their future spouse.
3. Dating isn’t marriage
Don't overthink it. This isn't marriage. Let go of your expectations (but not your morals) and your list of 'must-haves' and just have some fun. Meet fun people and do fun things – don't just sit in a movie theater! If you're in a serious relationship, you should be open to the idea of figuring out if the two of you are marriage material, but unless you're ready for that big commitment you have to be sure you have good boundaries.
4. Draw the line
Speaking of boundaries . . . have some! If you don't date, or if you decide to break up later you don't want things to be awko-taco. When you're a member of the dating club you have to anticipate rejection and heartbreak because you're not going to be a perfect fit for everyone. Prepare for this by being careful about physical and emotional boundaries as well as how much time you spend together. You don't have to ruin a relationship because it doesn't go all the way to marriage.
5. Beware of the Mask
How long have you known this person? Did you know that a person can keep up an act to disguise who they really are for as long as 2 months? After that amount of time, their real self begins to show through. Make sure you really know someone (and not like, 'I know him so well we text all the time!') before you begin a committed relationship with them.
6. Use Your Brain – follow your intuition
Trust your gut. One time a guy was pursuing me for years but I saw some warning signs and deep down inside I knew something wasn't right. I followed my instincts and was so grateful. If you have to question it or force it . . . well then I think you already have your answer. Don't date.
7. Honestly though . . .
Is there any lying or deceit going on? If either of you is going behind your parent's back, just stop right there. Most people in positions of authority care about you a lot and have a ton of wisdom to offer you. Unless they don't hold the same morals as you do, it's in your best interest to listen to them and honor them.
8. Talk of the town
Don't just talk, talk, talk about it to everyone. And by that I mean don't just text, text, text everyone about it. You'll get lots of personal opinions about your life, but not many (if any) of those opinions will come from a place of prayer and discernment. Talk to a few people you can trust – not your whole school.
I feel like it's appropriate to close with some words from Swedish House Mafia: 'Don't you worry, don't you worry child, ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏcause heaven's got a plan for you.'
Stay grounded in prayer. You won't know God's will unless you talk with Him every day. When your heart belongs to God, He'll only give it to someone who will love you like He does.
I'm praying for you.