Plus or Minus, to Have Never Dated Before?

Ferdinand Hui writes,

“So… if I met a guy, and he told me that he’s never dated before – no experience with dating whatsoever – that’s like … minus 500 points.” — from a friend.

Agree? Disagree? Why or why not?

I assume here that dating is for the purpose of finding someone to whom to bind oneself in marriage, not for “practice”, though practice there will always be, but for the serious prospect of marriage to this particular person (for a person’s heart is not to be trifled with: we would be loath to say “you were my practice date”).

The One Who Is “Callow”

For the person who has never dated, the issue will be maturity and dating convention (the structure/rules), as far as I see from what everyone has commented so far. For the person who has previously dated, the more likely issue is ability to appreciate pain that must and will come with love: “Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.”

A person’s heart is never to be trifled with.

The one who has never dated, how old is he or she? Or rather, how mature in spirit, mind and temperament? How willing to be corrected? Age is not an absolute bar, of course, but I would daresay that middle school students and the majority of high school students don’t have what it takes (and please, O high school student, do not say “we’re different” until you can realistically pursue your goal). Adultescence is also not a good sign, whatever the age. So if raw age is not the most fundamental issue, what it?

I would rather be yoked to one who has much to pick up but is willing to learn than one who has grudgingly seemed to have learned a lot, whose attitude mirrors that of the fool who despises wisdom and instruction (Pro. 1.7). Learning that came from such an attitude is worth little compared to the ability to learn. Whether or not the person has seriously explored the path of marriage or “been in a relationship”, he or she must be ready and receptive to God’s instruction both from His Word and through other people, despite previous relationships or lack of dating experience. Beyond this, what is an acceptable volume of knowledge, and what is not? Discussion could be interesting.

The One Who Has Been Hurt

“True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray to God and ask Him to give us the courage to love” — Mother Teresa

And for one who has been hurt, will he accept the certainty of pain, of loss, even of betrayal (viz. Hosea)? Can he marry without being preoccupied with protecting himself from hurt, instead accepting the beauty of sorrow? We are not called to ignore the other person’s flaws. We are called to love in spite of these problems and spur each other on to good works, which will often, not just sometimes, involve confronting the other person about sin or character immaturities. Now of course this issue is not limited to those who have been hurt in a relationship before. However, the depth of pain previously experienced demands greater effort to be open to learning from pain rather than rendering oneself impervious to pain by shutting off the ability to love deeply.

Love hurts. It is one thing to seek to be a blessing and not a curse and quite another to wish for oneself to avoid pain at all costs. The former develops sacrifice and love, while the latter develops lack of trust not just in the other person but, perhaps, in love itself. It is foolhardy to follow an unknown thing blindly and call it “love”, but it is also of no benefit to avoid faith in a perfectly reliable Lord, and His faithfulness and providence, for the sake of not getting burnt by love.

Resolution

So back to the original question. I would venture to say that perhaps the fact itself of having dated or not is not the most pertinent thing. I’d rather look at her (or, if you’re a woman, his) ability to love, which comes through her faith in God’s goodness, and willingness to acquire wisdom and understanding, which requires humility. Equilaterally with the these two, I would look also for her existing character maturity, which increases the depth of both of the above and conversely gains strength from them, because I cannot change her. All three of these are necessary to build a lasting family that does not become conformed to this world, but is instead transformed by the renewal of the couple’s minds, that by testing they may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12.2). This is a good fire, not a volatile petrol fire. It is still fire, with all its risks, but with practice it shines as a light into the world.

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7 responses to “Plus or Minus, to Have Never Dated Before?

  1. I’m impressed. Is the Xanga site also yours? You maintain two websites and you do a lot on both?!? I like the song. Also, a little intimidated if you are an example of what the next generation can do.

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  2. Thank you for your compliments, but as a college student I suppose I really do have this time sometimes, and when I don’t the blogging serves as a little bit of my reflection time anyway, even when I don’t have anything written for the public eye during that time. Yes, the Xanga site is mine too. Now for my term paper… 🙂

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  3. I’m really impressed. You found my other site. I like the idea of different sites for different purposes. No Latin, conversational C, a little K, S, F, G. I’m actually horrible at languages but learn it out of necessity. I have a friend doing her Ph.D. in linguistics if you want to know more about the field.

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  4. I think I have to agree with you, good Epeuthutebetes. However, I shall be less eloquent, and simply say that it takes a shallow-minded individual to dismiss, or levy many “minuses” against, someone who simply has not dated.

    I did not date, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. I believe my “inexperience” in dating was something that attracted me to my then-future, now-current wife. I believe dating, as meant in secular society today, is not a good thing. Young men and women are establishing memories with people that may not end up being their spouse. Leaving aside the entire issue of increased physicality in relationships, just spending time alone with someone begins to knit a bond between two people. I believe the longer you do this, the stronger the bond. Sexual relations takes this bond to an entirely different level.

    I think “dating” at best is a waste of time and effort, and at worst is a dangerous activity that can cause harm to a future marriage that can only be healed by repentance and the grace of Jesus.

    “Do not give your strength to women”… do not put all your effort and time in dating, but rather be focused on Christ.

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  5. It is crucial indeed to be gauging where the two people in a pre-marriage relationship are headed, and equally important, if not more important, to make sure that the focus is on Christ and that one is spurring on the other to good works.

    It is a minus for someone to have dated without intentional, not just by-default, progress towards determining the suitability of marriage.

    It is essential, therefore, that the relationship not be dragged on longer than necessary. Stagnation is not a good reason to remain in a relationship. Emotional marriage before or without an actual marriage is a dangerous thing, and without a sense of direction two people can easily fall into it.

    It is advisable, furthermore, not to let time spent with a sister whom one is pursuing for marriage swallow up time spent with other people, especially time spent together with no friends or acquaintances around, i.e. in anonymity.

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  6. Pingback: Girl Survey? « Cogito, Credo, Petam

  7. Did I write that?
    🙂
    Interesting…

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