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On-again-off-again (and Other Dating Blunders)

The middle school approach doesn’t cut it in the real world. While all the boys in the locker room discuss whom they “go out with” and the girls get giddy at late night sleepovers, they are simultaneously priming their pubescent hearts for post-graduate breakage. Youth pastors worldwide try to convince their teens to read Joshua Harris books to prevent them from future suffering. That’s great for the next generation. Meanwhile, there is a generation of twentysomethings attempting the dating scene like a bad episode of Saved by the Bell or Beverly Hills 90210.

So let’s look at what common dating blunders don’t work in the adult world.

Almost married, but not quite.

Too many young couples are pressured into the commitment bandwagon. Bombarded with emotional attachments to each other, a “gotta commit” mindset and the thrill of watching everybody else hook up, young people start to get more and more attached to the person they are dating.

It’s perfectly natural. We were created with a desire to love and be loved exclusively. What happens, though, is that too often commitments form. Spoken or unspoken, a commitment says, “I will love you exclusively.” That’s not so bad, unless the thought of following through with that commitment is a million miles away.

Jenny came from a strict Christian home and never dated much. She started dating Jack, whom she had known for years. Though they were very slow and deliberated in their dating practices, guarding their purity and spending time in prayer together, eventually, Jenny came to the realization that Jack was not right for her. Jack took it in stride, and tried to move on with his life. Ultimately, though, their dating relationship was so committed to each other that Jack fell into depression. He has given Jenny his heart, and she handed it back, wounded.

It takes a revolution of mindset and culture to really change the dating games. Instead of looking at each date as the prospective spouse, view them as a prospective spouse. If this is the type of person you could marry, then date away. Be careful, however, with thinking that “this might be the one.” Try to date with the goal of having a good time, getting to know each other or just having someone to split a pizza with.

Not married but should be.

Many couples start out dating and get to “that point” in their relationship. They want to commit to each other, they love each other, and they are considering marriage. If you ask them why they haven’t tied the knot, the responses are typical:

“We want to finish school first.”

“I need to get a good job.”

“I just don’t think I am ready yet.”

There is nothing wrong with finishing school. There’s nothing wrong with having a good job. There’s nothing wrong with being ready. There is something wrong with settling for societal pressures and norms when everything inside you is telling you it is time. They can easily become a likely excuse.

Our generation is afraid of the statistics. Half of all marriages end in divorce. No one wants to be in the wrong half, so instead of committing to make a marriage work, getting premarital counseling and just diving in, fear motivates extended engagements and dating. The usual response is an unofficial commitment to stay together forever, which cannot be kept without the sacred vows of marriage.

If you have been dating someone for an extended period of time and find yourself functioning as an unmarried married couple, ask yourself, “Why are we not married?” If you really look for the truth, your reasoning may surprise you.

On-again-off-again.

“We’re back together again.”

It is understandable that couples that are seriously interested in each other will have tiffs and break-up. It is also understandable that occasionally they will “make-up.”

What is incomprehensible these couples that thrive on the cycle. It cannot be healthy for a heart to be committed and uncommitted on a weekly basis. A healthy dating relationship is such that hearts are guarded and protected, not broken.

If your relationship is like a highly trafficked light switch, consider putting yourself back on the list of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.

My other half.

See Also

Ever woke up feeling alone and confused, wishing someone were there to hold you? Everybody has, and Hollywood has had a heyday. While it is romantic to think that the reason you cannot sleep is because you have not yet found your long lost love, it is also a lie geared to keep you from the most important relationship of your life.

We were created to love and be loved. We were made to be romanced and pursued, and to romance and pursue. The funny thing is, we can never get that from any dating or married relationship. We have in our nature a longing to feel complete, a passion to have purpose. The purpose is love, but not the way we were brought up to think.

A spouse, a fiancé, a date, a steady or a fling, can never fulfill the insatiable hunger in our souls. As long as we try to find our fulfillment in another person, we will continue to generate dysfunction.

God wants us to have that intimacy with Him. Jeremiah wrote: “Long ago the LORD said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.’”

Dating just won’t work right if we use it to fill our God-shaped holes.

RELATED LINKS:

DATING FOR DUMMIES

SURVIVING THE FIRST DATE

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