Why does dating not really look much like dating anymore? Hooking up has overshadowed what used to be a predictable formula of a boy getting a girl’s number and calling her on the phone. Now, you meet a nice guy (or girl) at a bar or at work. Then, you race down a path of physical intimacy. If the sex is good enough, and you wake up and still want to be with the person, then you try to build a relationship. You wait for a measly text message hoping they remember last night. Then, if they do ask to see you again, you start the hard work of figuring out if you even like the person. Why does it seem like someone got the relational order all wrong?
Here’s the problem with hooking up: it’s the instant gratification factor. There is no waiting, no chase and no pursuit. There is no time invested to build a relationship and decide if you even like the person with their clothes on. Once the sex goggles slip on your face, the euphoric feelings obscure your vision, and you’re unable to see the person with any real clarity.
Looking for instant gratification creates other problems when it comes to dating. There’s no judgment of character and no true objectivity. You never built a foundation for the relationship beyond sex. There are no rebukes from Mom and Dad, and there’s no community involved. You tell your friends about it after the sex (not before) and give them little chance to let you know if that guy or gal is a bad fit for you.
When we date lots of people just for fun and often have little or no attraction to the people we are dating, is it any surprise we fall into relationships instead of being intentional about them? Our culture calls this type of dating “hooking up.” Funnily enough, we’ve taken the word “date” back to its roots. Dating used to mean an encounter with a prostitute, and it’s not that far off these days. The sex comes before the relationship. But what if it was the relationship that we actually desired, and hook ups were only leaving us feeling lonely and emptier?
A Desire To Draw Close
The Bible would say the reason we desire to draw close to other people is because God designed us that way. In Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV), Jesus reminds us to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Relationships, it seems, are not intended to be disposable. Relationships are supposed to be the most important part of life. First, our relationship with God, and then our relationships with other people. When we take the relationship out of dating, we are left with a process that denies our very relational nature and allows us to objectify and treat people callously.
Science backs the Bible up. According to The New Medicine, “Healthy relationships are a vital component of health. There is strong evidence that healthy relationships correlate strongly with people’s health and well-being. Conversely, the health risks from being alone or isolated in one’s life are comparable in magnitude to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, blood pressure and obesity.”
Craving Something Deeper
Sex by its very nature is an intimate act between a man and a woman. But by taking the deeper relational connection and true intimacy out of the picture, it means we force ourselves to emotionally turn off our feelings to protect our heart. Sex becomes a numbing act to help us cope with relational intimacy we deeply crave and push away simultaneously. At our core, we all want to be fully known and fully loved, yet casual sex denies this reality and leaves us raw and searching for something to fill this void.
What if marriage was the relationship we are actually craving, and intentional dating – instead of randomly going from one hook up to the next – was a better way to fulfill our hearts true need?
Scripture reveals that the marital relationship is the best path to find the intimacy and relational connection we truly desire. It is a relationship ordained by God and specifically designed by him for his people to find the greatest security and emotional attachment. God’s intent is for sexual expression is to help married couples build intimacy in a safe and loving environment, where can feel naked and unashamed without the “walk of shame” back to the apartment in the morning.
Marriage is a loyal partnership, and though not easy, it’s an opportunity to be fully known – the good, the bad and everything in between. Dating might be old-school, but it also might give us a better shot at relational satisfaction and a marriage built on a firm foundation.
You may also be interested in How To Follow God’s Will For Dating & Sex: Part 1