From the time I was nine years old and one of my peers told me to go out with the kid across the room because we “would look cute together,” I’ve had a solid response: “I don’t believe in dating; I believe in courtship.” At that time, however, my idea of what “courtship” meant was a little bit skewed. I kid you not, the word brought to my mind visions of a young man and young woman sitting on couches across from each other and fielding questions about themselves and their ideals from interrogating parents.
I’m nineteen now, and, as you might have learned from my incredibly popular post in March, I’ve never been kissed. I’ve also never been on a date. (And the only “courts” I’ve been involved with were basketball, tennis, and volleyball.) However, I now have a very different perspective about what courtship and dating really are and what their purposes should be.
I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of dating. The first kind I decided to “kiss goodbye” forever. The other kind—though I “kissed it goodbye” for a while—could be just around the corner for me.
The first kind of dating is what I refer to as “casual dating,” which means going out with someone just for the sake of being in a relationship or “just for fun,” without any goals for the future of the relationship. Although I must admit it worked splendidly for my grandmother (that’s a story for another time), all I see is that people get hurt from this kind of dating. The argument I get all the time is, “Well how will I know what kind of people I like when it’s time for me to get married if I don’t date around and ‘practice’ while I’m young?” I maintain my position that you don’t have to get romantically involved with someone or spend hours alone with them to find out your preferences in the opposite sex. I can find out everything I need to know about a person by simply being friends with them. And while there will still be emotions involved, they are nothing like the rollercoaster of superficial highs and broken hearts that accompanies a lifestyle of casual dating. Millions of dating relationships end in failure, because they have no purpose besides personal fulfillment and “fun.”
The second kind of dating is actually what some people refer to as courtship. Unlike my nine-year-old definition, what I mean by “courtship” is simply the process by which a couple determines whether or not they should get married. This is what I like to call, “dating with a purpose.” In entering the courtship, the couple should know each other as friends and be interested in the possibility of marriage to each other. The courtship ends either with the decision that the couple should not marry, or with an engagement. Either way, the courtship ends as a success, because it has fulfilled its purpose of finding out whether the man and woman should pursue marriage.
Needless to say, “purpose-driven dating” is geared toward an older age group than casual dating, since most middle schoolers are not considering marriage. So if you’re not old enough to be thinking about marriage yet, or you have kids who are too young for courtship, you might be wondering: Do I really think that you (or your kids) shouldn’t be dating in high school (or any time you're not considering marriage)?
Yes, I do. Now, I’m not going to condemn you if you decide to go that route. But it is my opinion that casual dating is dangerous and unwise. If you don’t believe me, watch the Disney channel for about 10 minutes. Then realize that all that ridiculous drama from those shows actually happens in high school dating relationships. Only in reality, it’s not that humorous, somebody always gets hurt, and you can’t change the channel to escape the devastating consequences of taking things a little too far.
That’s the kind of dating I “kissed goodbye” forever. And amazingly enough, I still find my life to be exciting, complete, free of unnecessary heartbreak and stress, and full of lasting love!