Last month we finished by defining what dating is….
“Dating is quality time spent between two people of the same faith and opposite gender in a safe environment where they are able to authentically get to know one another.”
Let’s begin unpacking this definition. So what is quality time? I asked over 300 single adults this question. Here are some of their responses. Single adults replied that quality time is:
•Communicating with someone (both talking and listening as opposed to just going to a movie and sitting next to each other)
•Doing things which allow you to really get to know the other person (a safe environment was brought up but we will get to that later in the definition)
•Some said that quality can only truly be quality if you are being real and not pretending to be someone else (I would translate real to be authentic)
While answers were similar, many chose to answer the question by the negative response, what quality is not:
•Single adults answered that quality time is not spending months and months on the internet building a virtual relationship with someone.
•Another answered that quality time was not “making out” with the other person.
•Others expressed frustration that many of their peers saw quality time as renting a moving, getting take out, and sitting on the couch watching a movie together.
Quality time is much more than simply spending time together. The key word is quality. When you think of the term quality, what do you think of? Hopefully you think of activities during a period of time which would help you discover more about the character, place in life, and spiritual maturity of the other person. Quality and quantity don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Many people can spend all day every day with someone and still not know anything of meaning or substance about them.
The quantity of time spent together has to be purposeful and intentional. If you really want to get to know someone, find a local service project and serve together…For real? Yes, for real. If you want to see how the other person sees the world, the less fortunate, how they handle situations which can be out of their control, giving up “their” time for others, etc., then do something together for someone else. This will really give you insight into their character and disposition. Just bringing up the topic of serving together will allow you to see their reaction. That reaction can speak volumes as to who they really are.
This all sounds so logical and easy. You are reading this saying, “Duh! Why haven’t I thought of that?” Well, I am sure that you have. It’s just that at times our biggest fear is loneliness. When our fear becomes our focus, our desire for quality time diminishes and we settle for quantity. The fact is, you can spend a ton of time with people who are not right for you, are not God’s best for you, and who you are lowering the bar to be with. That is one of core reasons why every single adult needs to be “doing life with” other adults, both married and single. What I mean by “doing life with” is that it is vital for everyone to have people in their lives who truly care for them, who they are checking in with on a daily basis, and who will ask them the real tough questions. Single women need other women to ask them the questions which will follow in the next paragraph. Single men need other men asking them the same list and a whole host of others.
Not only do we need those with whom we are “doing life with,” we also need “check-in” points when we are dating someone. We need to stop, take an honest assessment, and say, “I’m spending a lot of time with this individual, but am I getting to know them?” Not only am I getting to know them, but am I getting to authentically know them? Am I getting to know who it is they are wanting me to know (the fake them) or is this quantity of time truly quality time, which is letting me know the real them? These are real questions that we must ask ourselves.
Have you ever heard someone talk about “the dance?” I am not talking about the old country western song; I am talking about the “dating dance.” This is a term that I began using several years ago when I began ministering to single adults. Often times I observe something very unique unfold before my eyes. As two people begin to spend time together, they try their best to figure out who the other person wants them to be and then they become what they think the other person wants them to become. Confused? Absolutely, but this happens all of the time. The “dance” doesn’t serve anyone and if you realize that you are in a relationship which resembles “the dance,” get up, turn off the music, and stop dancing.
There is another danger which can happen when two people spend a large quantity of time together that isn’t of high quality. I am sure you have heard of sexual fornication. If you haven’t, it is when two people have sex outside of marriage. I believe that emotional fornication can also be detrimental to a relationship. Just as sex can totally cause confusion in a relationship and doesn’t need to be present outside of marriage, emotions need to be guarded and protected as well. Spending a ton of time together with someone can lead a couple to “play” marriage emotionally. Setting up house, eating breakfast and dinner together, spending every moment of the weekend together can blur your ability to see clearly if this person is truly God’s best. This is especially true when you put children into the mix. I have not received much applause for the statement that is coming next but I believe it to be true. If you or the person you are in a relationship with has a child, it is my encouragement that you don’t bring the child into the situation until you know that the relationship is going to move forward to marriage. I can say much more about this later but it’s a fact that you can fall in love with someone else’s child while we are “playing marriage” and end up in a bad situation.
Next month we will move forward with our definition of Biblical Dating.