Dating doesn’t look like it use to, in fact depending on the person you ask, you might just get many different perceptions on the word. The teens I talk to are excited to date, often claiming that mom and dad are just too “old-fashioned”. 20-somethings can sometimes be more hesitant to be locked into a dating relationship claiming that the traditional dating is dead and has been replaced with the new “no strings attached” kind of relationships.
So what exactly is dating? And who gets to define it?
“Let’s Date” – a (very) short history lesson
In comparison to how many years we humans have been alive and been attracted to one another, the history of “dating” is really quite new. In the past, dating has been tied to marriage, family and reproduction. Dating was a precursor to exploring if we are compatible, then we take the next step.
Up until about 200 years ago, parents, matchmakers and Rulers were in charge of arranging marriages. Marriage was not about love, but rather about economic systems and political alliances. One might argue that modernity has created the concept of “dating”.
Adam didn’t have this dating problem; he only had eyes for Eve. (Sorry – but I couldn’t help myself!)
For general purposes, I’d like to define the term “dating” as “an exploration of compatibility for partnership to create and establish good in this world.”
Where did I contrive this definition? Let’s head back to Genesis.
What does God say about relationships?
When we return to Genesis, where humankind was created in the image of God, we read about God saying “…be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth…” God saw everything created and declared it “…good, very good.”
Together this first man and first woman were invited to enter a relationship with one another. This relationship was intended for the purpose of:
- caring well for everything.
- creating life that would continue to be good for this world – just like their Creator.
This type of relationship is a lot of work and yet, God seemed to think that the best way to accomplish these things would be in relationship with others – not alone.
Notice I did not say marriage. I do not believe that everyone needs to be married in order to “establish good in this world.”
So what does this have to do with dating? From my perspective? Absolutely everything!
What is your motivation for dating?
Earlier this week, I was sitting with two singles that were both re-entering the dating world. They mentioned how being in a dating relationship is both wonderful and so much work. These two individuals in this dating relationship are intentionally working to:
- value the other’s voice
- honor one another’s differences of opinion
This dating relationship is helping them explore and gain new insight in how to care well for another person as well as caring well for their own self. And this is creating new life that is good, very good.
What is your motivation for dating? Is there a desire to “get something” from another? Or is there something that this relationship is creating that is good for this world?
Dating is certainly not what it used to be, and sure, there might not be an absolute definition. But I do think that when underlying, hidden motives are examined there is great potential to learn how we can better engage with one another in relationship as human beings.
After all, the earth and everything in it has been entrusted to us human beings – made in the image of God. And maybe, just maybe God wants to be the dating coach we return to over and over…