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From the Author

Smalley Relationship Center

Book: The DNA of Relationships

 
DATING

Eight Great Reasons to Date

By Dr. Greg Smalley and Michael Smalley, M.A.
Smalley Relationship Center

CBN.com We would like to emphasize eight specific reasons why dating can be a positive experience in your life to help you navigate the waters of maturity and maybe, some day, even marriage.

1. Dating can be fun!

It can be a source of enjoyment and recreation. This is an end in itself because couples want to relax and experience a form of entertainment together.

2. Dating is a big part in the socialization process.

In other words, dating establishes social confidence, helps people learn social skills like manners, consideration for others, cooperation, and conversation.

3. Dating helps personality development.

Personal identity is developed through relationships with other people. The key is successful relationships. When a dating experience is successful it helps to build our personality.

4. Dating allows people to try out gender roles.

Men and women need to discover the kinds of roles they find fulfilling in a close relationship. This can only be accomplished in actual situations with the opposite sex.

5. Dating involves learning about intimacy and serves as an opportunity to establish a unique, meaningful relationship with a person of the opposite sex.

God created us to need interpersonal relationships. In Genesis 2:18 it says, Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." As Adam and Eve demonstrate, no matter how many friends we have, in order to fulfill our deep need for love and affection, we need close relationships with others, especially the opposite sex.

6. Dating can provide companionship through interaction and shared activities with the opposite sex.

One of the worst of all human conditions is loneliness. Oftentimes, loneliness causes a person to feel depressed, impatient, bored, self-depreciation, and desperation as they feel panicked and helpless. One of the best counters to loneliness is the establishment of meaningful relationships with others.

7. Dating helps you find the right mate.

A person can use dating as a process of filtering out or narrowing the field of eligible partners down to a specific few and eventually to one person who will be his mate for a lifetime.

8. Dating can help prepare for marriage.

Dating can help couples acquire the needed knowledge and skills for a successful marriage. For example, dating helps develop a better understanding of each other's attitudes and behaviors, how to get along, and can increase your ability to discuss and solve relational problems.

We are not going to further elaborate on each of these points mentioned above, however we would like to focus on two in particular. First, dating can be fun! Dating does not have to be scary, intimidating, pressure packed, or anything else but enjoyable. What you have to do is make an effort to make the dating years enjoyable. I (Michael) had a good time. When I think back on why it was good for me, I can think of three major reasons.

First, I never allowed dating to get too serious. My mom gave me some great advice when I started seriously dating Stacey. Be careful about saying, ;I love you. My parents helped me understand the significance of love and how you don't just want to use it like it doesn't mean anything. When we overuse the word love, it can become just another word and not actually stand for anything significant anymore. Throughout the years I dated Stacey, I don't recall ever telling her I loved her, and she didn't tell me either. I did not allow my dating life to get so deep that the potential eventual break up would be horrendous.

An aspect of not allowing your dating relationships to get deep is the physical nature of the relationship. That is something that Stacey and I handled very appropriately. We never got passed first base, as they say, and I know this helped when we eventually stopped dating. It made the break up easier, not easy.

Secondly, I used to do a lot of group dates. I would plan outings with friends, church groups, or whatever there was just to have more fun. It's good when you are doing things in groups because it can take some of the pressure of having to keep the entertainment value up by yourself. With others around, there is usually plenty of great ideas for having fun!

Lastly, I was involved in other things besides dating. I was heavily involved with sports, and this allowed me to have something other than a dating life to enjoy myself. Other people get involved with church, music groups, writing, or any number of other fun activities. Just don't limit yourself to just dating. This can easily become more of a burden then a fun time.

The second point we would like to focus on is that dating can help you find a mate. If you never date anyone, how can you know who is the right one for you? Dating gives you the chance to experience the opposite sex in a more intimate manner, therefore allowing you to get to know them better. Dating is your opportunity to have a relatively deep relationship with someone before you commit to a lifetime of marriage. The great developmental psychologist Dr. Erik Erikson believed that romantic experiences (or dating) play an important role in helping you develop a personal identity and intimacy. He felt dating likely helps shape the course of future romantic relationships and marriage.

This will only work if you do not allow the relationship to enter into one too similar to marriage. Premarital sex, obsessive discussions about marriage, or too much time spent together can all take the relationship to a level of intimacy that is inappropriate for dating. If you go to these levels, then your judgment of who the person is and what the relationship is truly like will be clouded.


© Copyright 2005 Smalley Relationship Center. Used by permission.

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