Over the summer, 50,000 Catholic teens attended the Steubenville Youth Conferences across North America and some of my favourite Catholic speakers such as Jason Evert, Jackie Francois, Emily Wilson and Paul J Kim, tackled everything to do with dating. It's so refreshing to see the Church talk about these relatable issues because we all love to talk about dating, but none of us know "how to date". Dating 101 is my take on how to have successful healthy dating relationships.
A lie we’re told is that being in a relationship is everything. This is simply not true. Embracing the season of singleness can actually save us from a lot of heartbreak.
If we want to start dating, we have to ask ourselves why. Many of us like the idea of a relationship, but don’t like to commit to one. If we're being honest with ourselves, sometimes we only want someone around to use them for our own physical and emotional gain. Maybe we're lonely or we crave affection and want someone to cuddle with us, but this isn't a real reason to date...
The 3 Main Purposes Of Dating:
1. To Find A Spouse
Sometimes, it’s not all about finding the person that has everything you want, it’s about becoming the person that they deserve. This may mean we have to root out some ugly things in our lives. Whether this may be an addiction to pornography or low-self-esteem, the truth is: relationships don’t heal your wounds; relationships expose your wounds.
When it comes to dating there are only two options: either you marry this person or you break up with them. There’s simply no other option - they ain’t your spouse yet, so you have to treat them as if they were someone else’s future spouse.
Instead of asking how far is too far, we should be trying to protect that person’s mind, body and soul and prepare them for their future partner. How far would you want someone else going with your future spouse?
If marriage is the end-goal, then we should be looking essentially for someone to do life with. You must be careful who you align yourself with, as this can damage your purpose.
Relationships, where the purpose is unknown, opens up the door for the devil. We are called to date intentionally, with a purpose and aim directed towards marriage. It’s a process that takes time, so instead of rushing in, take time to build friendships and truly get to know the person first. If you can’t seriously see yourselves with that person, don’t waste your time or their time, by leading them on.
2. To Grow In Virtue & Become The Best Versions Of Ourselves
When we date, we’re called to help our partner become the person God created them to be. As Christians, we’re called to pursue the virtue of chastity. Chastity is an invitation to love freely and be loved authentically.
If someone leaves you because of your vow to chastity, they never deserved you in the first place. You should never have to compromise your morals or downplay your faith to keep someone around. You don’t need someone who is just going to tolerate your choice, you want someone who’s going to walk with you on that journey.
When we get into relationships, we are called to love like Christ loved the Church, with a sacrificial love. We’re called to purity in the face of temptation. Remember, it’s about protecting their mind, body and soul.
Yet in our society, we confuse love for lust, but there’s a line between affection and arousal. With chastity, we have to be willing to deny ourselves of certain pleasures, so that we can train our bodies to desire the right thing: authentic relationships and authentic sex.
Since God created sex for marriage, every time we have sex, we renew our wedding vows. However, with sex outside of marriage, if you never made those vows, you're essentially lying with your body and making a promise you never did.
“For God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:7
Purity is not an attempt to kill desire, but rather an invitation to intensive love. Every day we are called to glorify God in our relationships with others and to strive for holiness in everything we do. If we become who God created us to be, we would set the world on fire…
3. To Grow In Relationship With God
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2
If the person you're dating is leading you into sin or distracting you from the relationship you have with God, they ain't the one. Many of us jump from relationship to relationship and that's when we get hurt because we never asked God for permission to pursue. But, if you invite God into the relationship, you can discern if this relationship is good for you.
It’s about making our relationships Christ-centred and allowing Him to bless the relationship. Yet, this can only happen when Christ is first the centre of our own lives. When you have God at the centre of your relationship, then you’ll have wisdom and guidance, as well as love, peace and joy. You’ll want someone who will lead you to Christ, keep you accountable and help you spiritually grow in faith.
God created us for relationship - it’s only when we grow in our love for God, that we can choose to love others and ourselves.
I hope this encourages you to seek after godly relationships in your own lives...