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.
9 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.