Preparing to Date
Young people all over the world, regardless of culture, share at least one thing in common: the challenge of growing into successful adults. Every society has its own customs in this regard, certain rites of passage through which its youth must navigate successfully in order to be recognized as mature, responsible men and women. In Western countries, one of the most common and socially significant of these customs is dating.
The word “dating” comes from the idea of “setting a date,” where two people (or more, if on a group date) agree to get together at a certain time and place for recreation and fellowship. Dating is an important vehicle in our culture for giving young men and women the opportunity to get to know one another in a socially acceptable manner.
Although dating as we know it today is not a Scriptural concept, it nevertheless has become thoroughly imbedded as a social norm. From a sociological standpoint, dating trends and practices indicate overall societal health, because the way people behave while dating usually reveals how they will behave when married. Habits and attitudes established during the dating years generally carry over into marriage.
As important as dating is in our society, however, questions remain in the minds of both parents and young people alike. What, exactly, is dating? What is its purpose? When is a person “ready” to date? What guidelines are appropriate for a dating relationship? These are important questions that deserve solid answers. Understanding dating is essential not only for teenagers and their parents, but also for older, newly single people who, because of divorce or widowhood, are re-entering the dating scene.
Habits and attitudes established during the dating years generally carry over into marriage.
One of the most common questions that parents and their teenage children ask is, “How old should a person be before dating?” The answer is not as simple as some try to make it. In reality, the question of when a young person is ready to date is very subjective, depending on the parents’ attitudes and the developmental level of the child. There is more involved than simply assigning a chronological age. Adolescents mature at different rates, and girls usually mature faster and earlier than boys do. Some children may be ready to date at the age of 13, while others may be 18 before they are ready. A person’s readiness to date is largely a matter of maturity and environment.
Part of maturity is knowledge, and there are four principles or prerequisites that every person should meet before they begin dating. Knowing and applying these principles will help ensure dating success regardless of a person’s status: younger, older, never married, or newly single again.
vision, purpose, destiny,