Monday, June 3, 2013

Dating to dignify, part 1 of 5: No more dodgeball

When I entered young adulthood I was not a great dater. Maybe you know this about me?

In my early twenties dating made my palms sweat, my throat constrict, and my heart race. I found the fetal position was the most immediately soothing way to deal with these tendencies.

But, it turns out, maintaining the fetal position will not find you a spouse. Dating just might, though.

And so, 1 1/2 years ago, I made an effort to be open to dating. I'd previously had a couple of boyfriends and even a fiance, but those relationships unexpectedly fell in my lap. I hadn't done much, if any, intentional dating — the kind of dating wherein you go out with several people monthly, or even weekly, in order discover someone with whom you have boyfriend/girlfriend — and eventually marriage — potential.

And boy, has dating proactively taught me a lot.

In particular, I've learned that dating does not need to make us feel insignificant and unworthy— like the last kid picked at dodgeball.  

Dating can dignify.

In fact, one of the primary aims of Christian dating should be to dignify each other.  

We are, after all, members of the same Body, and citizens of the same Kingdom.  

We are fighting the same fight, running toward the same prize, completing the same Great Commission, and conforming to the image of the same Christ.  

And one day, we will live together forever and ever in heaven.  It makes sense that we would be intentional about building each other up in Christ when we date, even when it doesn't lead to marriage, or even a second date.

Here's the thing I've discovered about dating: nobody really knows what they're doing. Sure, some people are smoother than others, but nobody's got this dating thing perfected. We're all a little bit insecure and quirky with different expectations and past experiences. It can be hard enough to sputter a feeble hello when we meet someone attractive for the first time, much less dignify them in the way we welcome or reject their interest.

Thankfully, I have a lot of smart, talented, attractive and single friends who have a lot of dating experience. Over the past year I've been interviewing dozens of them about the way they want to be asked out and let down.

They've had great insight and advice about how we can dignify each other as we date. And we've all agreed about one thing: we should be talking about this more often.

So I've taken the notes from our conversations, along with my personal notes from my dating journey, and turned them into a mini blog series.

Here's the thing: I wrote this series six months ago, and never published it. It's not that I'm uncertain about the practicality of the ideas in this series. The things I've written up have been helpful to me and the dozens of friends I've interviewed.

It's just that there's so much more for me to learn and to write about when it comes to dating. My generation is treading into territory unfamiliar to our parents and grandparents. We're a lot older and single, and trying to figure out what to do with our sexuality while we look and hope for a spouse. In a sense, we're dating pioneers. Dating can be really, really hard. I want to write a piece that does justice to all of the hard stuff we have to navigate as we date. This series is not that piece. It's just not long enough to do justice to our dating difficulties.

After this series, I hope to write about sex, lust, emotional investment and all the stuff that shapes a progressing dating relationship.

For now, this series will explore some helpful ways to traverse the initial stages of dating. And maybe it will do for you what my interviews with single folks did for me: provoke new thoughts, generate helpful conversations and new approaches to dating, and even result in new dates.

This could be fun, ya'll.

Check out:
Part 3: "Making a move"
Part 5: "Better than Houdini "

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© by scj

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