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What would you say are qualifications for dating? Surely not all dating is good…

Response to texted question on dating from May 12
I would agree, not all dating is good. But I very much believe that dating, even dating that doesn’t end in marriage can be good.

More than anything else, I think the primary qualification for dating is probably simple fascination. What do you do when you meet someone that captures your attention and grabs your interest? Personally, I think there needs to be little more than that to go on a date with someone. A date does not necessarily mean dating, but it is the important first step in understanding that dating is primarily about discovery. It is a partial process in discovering the image of God in someone else and image of God in ourselves. I would encourage someone who is fascinated with another person to pursue them instead of merely fantasizing about them. Go ask them out and pursue them for the purposes of getting to know them. In the process you may get to know more about yourself. This is a lot less selfish than going home and making them the object of your lust while you fantasize.

This may sound like really good news to the “serial first dater.” While the approach to dating should be fun and exciting, IT CAN NOT BE RECKLESS. You should not be reckless with your own heart or the heart of someone else. There is a risk in dating and romance and it needs to be approached with an eye on the feelings of the other, not merely one’s own desires or lusts.
One of the ways that we can accomplish this attentiveness to others feelings is to stay present. Women can get ahead of themselves by thinking about the colors of the wedding on the first day. Men often wonder what she looks like naked. If we can stay in the moment of remembering that this is about getting to know somebody as they are right now, rather than what they might be (or what I want them to be) later, we have a much better shot at staying present.

Like the question stated, not all dating is good. If someone knows that a relationship is going nowhere, they should probably not initiate it any further than it needs to go. If you find out there is a deal breaker (i.e. you are a Christian and the other person is a non-Christian), don’t linger in romance any longer. Too often, people approach relationships with someone they come to adore thinking that they can change them. If you find yourself in a relationship thinking that someone needs to change in order for the relationship to continue, you should excuse yourself from that relationship.

While the Bible is silent on dating we can take some cues in our dating behavior by listening to the story of a relational God who has given us the example of considering others first and departing from our own selfish desires; that is, laying down our lives for others. While the primary way that we can know the love of God is through a relationship with Jesus Christ, there are many ways that relationship can play out. Prayer, meditation, the study of scripture, community, to name a few and to demonstrate that the relationship is complex and dating is initiating and exploring the first aspects of the complexities of relationship. Also, we have to push being unselfish, loving others before we love ourselves.

Ultimately, we cannot look for dating to be what completes us or gives us a sense of wholeness. The journey of the Christian faith is seeking unity with Christ. Let’s seek to allow even our romantic impulses to guide us in seeking a deeper intimacy in relationship with Jesus. RC

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