My stance on dating is too liberal to be conservative and too conservative to be liberal. It’s a problem, really.
When I was working for a small, conservative Christian college my attitude about dating made people nervous. (If only they knew when I was in college I had a steadfast rule: If you haven’t kissed by the third date the chemistry isn’t there and you’re destined for friendship in the relationship. That would have really made them bonkers!)
I believe in dating for fun because, well, it’s fun! I do realize my attitude can be the springboard for a heartache, and my heart has been hurt on more than one occasion over a stupid romantic move. Yet I also believe exposure to a wide variety of dates is a good way to figure out what you do and DO NOT want in your marriage.
That is a practical application of knowledge that can be literally life-saving!
My desire for students to break out of the mold and date a little caused consternation. Half of the suspicious students, the ones with personal commitments to kiss for the first time on their wedding day, thought I was advocating hooking people into sacrilegious pairs with programs like Speed Dating and Mission Impossible: Date Dash.
The other half of suspicious students thought it was wonderful I wasn’t recommending marrying the first person you kiss and embraced the opportunity to meet new people with the structure of a student life sponsored program.
Now, a good bit of time after I’ve left the college, I still get the random text from a previous student asking for my perspective on dating.
Last night it was: “What’s your opinion on dating just to date?”
Wooo-eeee! I rubbed my hands together with glee when I saw that on my phone because, well, you already know I LOVE to talk relationships!
“It can be SUPER FUN – as long as you keep your heart out of it,” I typed back.
My texting buddy wanted details.
“Casual dating becomes a problem when you compromise what you’re really looking for or if they fall for you and you’d never reciprocate the feelings… and if you start kissing and such, all over the planet,” I wrote.
Bottom line? Do it! But keep your pants on, hands to yourself, and heart guarded with an uzi and rocket launcher. Maybe some battery acid as well.
This attitude really tweaks off the person who wants to date only for marriage. I find that philosophy faulty, though, because I know a significant number of couples who decided they would date only for marriage and ended up married to someone who is a horrible fit for them!
The dating process is designed to learn about what works for you in a relationship! (And what doesn’t. I discovered early on a person with softly plumped hands who kisses like someone sucking on a wet wash rag is not for me. I also learned if he didn’t hold the door open on the first date there was a good chance that lack of respect would filter into every other part of the relationship.)
Casual dating is awesome… but also risky.
If you start a relationship with someone with the specific purpose of casual dating, expect to keep it short. When Mon Frere Casual Date is your main hang out partner six months later… you’re not casual dating anymore. You’re in a relationship.
If you find yourself making excuses for their addictions and habits but not cutting them loose because you want someone to spontaneously hang out with later… you’re not casual dating anymore. You’re enabling poor behavior out of selfishness on your part.
If you find yourself getting jealous when your casual date talks about dating someone else, watch out. Your perception has changed from someone to share a meal with on occasion to the person wanting a monogamous relationship.
The whole point of casual dating is… casual. No ties. Nothing you’ll feel embarrassed about later… just plain enjoyment of another for a season of life.
When you choose someone to date for fun, plan for the end of the relationship, sooner rather than later! Remember – you’re dating casually, so if you find yourself in tears at any point over the person, you’ve taken a wrong turn in the romantic buffet of joy… back away quickly!
What thoughts do you have about casual dating? Did you do it yourself? Did you ever find yourself in a relationship you didn’t want when casual dating went too far?