College Courses on How to Date? ~ so, gals, why is that necessary? Should it be?

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Several colleges are now offering courses on “how to date.”  A few of these schools fall into the category of prestigious institutions of higher education. Some students enrolling in these classes might be registering thinking they’ll find someone to date there. In my day (and I’m truly not that ancient), girls and young women learned about the opposite sex and dating from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, older sisters, cousins, and such.

In all honesty, our mothers usually didn’t open up too much about their romantic lives, and though we were curious, maybe that was a good thing. But, aunts could be a surprisingly good source of information. Oh, yes. I recall (as a pre-teen), nearly holding my breath so I wouldn’t be noticed and sent away, as my aunts discussed a situation in town where it was suspected a particular husband had been unfaithful. I think my little ears grew as large as Dumbo’s as the convo got salacious (to my young mind). Trust me, my aunts were not happy with that husband. What made the most impression was how awful they felt for the wife. One generation of women was passing on to me, on a total experiential level (emotional, conscience, societal norms) when I was a little gal that you don’t do that to another woman. It was so intense, I still have near total recall of the situation.

But you had to be there. This life lesson couldn’t be experienced so profoundly online, or via texting. Sometimes I get the feeling that Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z/Centennials don’t feel Baby Boomers have anything of value to contribute to their lives and they run from deep interaction with us. These younger generations don’t want to let in any info they’re uncomfortable with. They forcefully block it out.

In many cases young women block out the extremely valuable information they can only get through a relationship with an older woman. Without a doubt that older woman will hold different viewpoints on many things from the younger woman. The very act of fleeing from a differing viewpoint disallows for a skill needed in dating and relating to a potential spouse. Yes, it takes a skill-set.

Dating is messy, and it might be frightening in the era of apps where individuals get what they want in a clean-cut way and it’s immediate. That’s not dating.

So, what is dating? And what’s it for? In days gone by, it used to be a ritualistic way to find out if the other person was in the running to become ones eventual spouse. Way back in the ice-age, it was called “courting.” That isn’t the function of dating today, not even for Christian singles who do see marriage as the eventual outcome of a serious relationship.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? ~ Ecclesiastes 4: 8-11 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

If a young woman googles “dating”, she’ll find thousands of links, many aimed at Christians. There are online dating sites, matchmakers, speed dating, and more. You’d think with all this online help, dating would be easy. It’s not, and many women are left depressed and bitter by the negative experience.

Today, young people are getting career skills, going to college, creating a resume and may be putting marriage off a few years. If these younger women are waiting until they’re more secure financially, one of the things an older woman will tell them is, “Don’t wait too long, the odds are you’ll never be totally financially secure.” The older woman will probably give a good hard laugh when she says that, and the laugh will travel up and fill her eyes with mirth.

Dating means taking a risk. When you “meet a guy online”, you haven’t actually met him. Even if he’s been totally honest online from his point of view, when you meet him face-to-face, you might be surprised. If he isn’t what you thought he’d be and you know a relationship is impossible, the mature route is to be gracious. Get through the date (and it should be a coffee-date) and tell him briefly why you don’t see a future connection. “It’s too bad you’re allergic to dogs. I have three.” Or…”Did I tell you I’m planning a one year mission trip to Ecuador? How are you on long distance dating?” Then don’t count it all a waste of time, another loss. No! Consider it spending a couple of hours with a pretty decent human being, rather than sitting home alone for two hours. How he takes it is his responsibility.

Likewise, if you’ve met a guy within the confines of a larger group of friends, you haven’t met him one-on-one and don’t know him as a potential partner. Again, you have to take a risk and “meet him” outside of the safety of the group, or the classroom, or the church group, or the work environment. In this type of scenario, my best advice is don’t rush it. No matter how cute he is, no matter how much you seem to have in common when you’re both in the group…take it slow. Go for coffee and take a walk in the park, or around the mall. Make that first “date” a very low key, casual “non-date.” That way, if you immediately know this guy is not for you, you can keep it light and return to the safety of the group without having gone through an apocalyptic event that destroys the former “friends/colleagues” relationship.

If you want to find a long-term relationship, a life-mate, and from my Christian perspective that means marriage, you’re going to have to do some plain old fashioned courtship type things. You are going to have to get past how cute he is, how witty. Are you going to be able to live with this guy and respect and honor him? If you can’t, that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad-guy, but you still have to move on.

You might have to further refine your search criteria. You might have to find a better pool of men to choose from…better for you.

As far as taking a college course in dating, I’d rather you order pizza and have a good-long, no-holds-barred talk with your aunt or older sister.

A Generational Curse ~ plagued me all of my life

ShameMy mother and I grew into a love/hate relationship. She was a good person, don’t get me wrong. I honor her for the upstanding individual she was. Her word was her bond and she was as moral  as the day was long.

However, very early on, I perceived her attitude toward me as one of suspicion and condemnation where the opposite sex was concerned. As I grew into my teenage years, it seemed to me she was obsessive in that area. I’ve always been bemused by this, I’m absolutely sure I didn’t exhibit any behavior in my pre-teen years to warrant this type of extreme scrutiny on her part…which was when her censure began.

I wasn’t allowed to date in high school.  And it was during my high school years when I overheard my parents discussing their fear that I would get pregnant. I was extremely hurt. Why would they think that? I was socially awkward around boys. I said and did the wrong things. I’d try to fit in with them by being one of the boys and quickly found out most teenage males didn’t enjoy a girl more quick witted than themselves. And they weren’t attracted at all to a girl who was one of the guys. By my senior year, I’d begun to flirt and that got me some male attention. Still, I didn’t fall into the ‘dateable material’ category in their books…not a problem. I wasn’t allowed to date anyway. But I was allowed to attend my proms. Out of the fear that I would have no date for either one (more than fear…stark reality), I asked boys who I thought would in no way be asking any girl to the prom. And so, I did attend both proms. The Lord has gifted me with the skills of a planner and with determination. Both those talents have stood me well in life.

When I got out of high school, it was like being shot out of a cannon. I went to live with my older cousin and her husband in New York City and I got into the dating scene, which at that time was the singles bar scene. Enough said.

Later, I married a funny, great looking, and highly intelligent guy. My mother is gone and I was at her side when she passed. It’s been a number of years that I’ve forgiven her for her obsessive hounding, scrutiny, and condemnation of me as a girl.

I’m now semi-retired, a widow, and I have an ongoing, growing relationship with the Lord that is indispensable to my life. It wasn’t long ago when the Lord not only opened my hear to see where my mother was coming from lo those many years ago, He impressed upon me that I was to share this publicly…hence this blog article. Sharing this was not what I wanted to hear or do. I knew it was God, even though I might’ve wanted to play that game: is it really God asking me to do this?

I also was aware of the sad history of my third youngest aunt (one of twelve children, born to legal immigrant parents, my grandparents). This aunt got pregnant at age 19, told her older sisters, and was whisked away to a sister’s house in another state. This was so my grandparents would never know and the family wouldn’t be embarrassed in their small town. My aunt was kept hidden away during the pregnancy and must’ve felt intense shame. At any rate not long after the baby was born and given up for adoption,  she was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Secrets do get out, and when my grandparents found out about the pregnancy, they were in extreme pain that they had a grandchild ‘out there’ somewhere they would never know. My aunt’s schizophrenia was very hard for the family to deal with. She was institutionalized in a state hospital. In the 60s when the state institutions were closed, she went to a group home. I recall visiting her as a girl at the state hospital, and then as a young adult at the group home.

What the Lord made clear to me in my heart about my mom was that her fear of me becoming pregnant came out of a generational curse brought on by the intense pain and suffering the family went through with my aunt’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth and her subsequent schizophrenia. I’ve never been sure if my mom and her sisters believed the strain of this pregnancy and birth triggered the schizophrenia. And maybe it did…or maybe she was going to come down with this awful disease in her 20s at any rate. Maybe the oncoming schizophrenia caused her to make poor choices with a boy and that resulted in the pregnancy. Which came first, the chicken or the egg, the cart or the horse? I’ll never know.

What the Lord recently showed me was while I lived for many years wondering, due to my mom’s condemnation, if she truly loved me…this extreme behavior on her part came from irrational fear. She was absolutely beset by a spirit of fear in this regard. And it was also love. She wanted to protect me from what had happened to my aunt. It had never occurred to me that my mom’s crazy behavior had anything to do with love, but it did. And I hope my sharing this will help set someone free who had a condemning parent.

There is such a thing as a generational curse. It’s a very complex subject matter, not a parlor game. I’ve only touched the mere surface of this subject. If you identify in any way with this scenario, pray about it.