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Be careful to not ‘date’ too early

Be careful not to date too early in life. Why? Here is the answer: Dating puts you out of circulation. What in the world am I talking about? Dating too early in life can rob you of youthful enjoyment, and healthy emotional and intellectual development. There are far too many individuals who had a serious romantic relationship before they completed high school and went straight into marriage after graduating. Today, they regret not having a few short years without a romantic attachment.

Here is my definition of dating. Dating is a relationship with an end in mind, or it is a relationship with a focus. I am not talking about someone “going on a date” or “a night out”. I am talking about a romantic relationship. If you cannot have an end in mind and an end that makes sense, then you are not dating – you are messing around. If you are too young to have an end in mind, then you should not date. What is this end that one should have in mind? Well, it is usually marriage. If you do not plan to get married soon, do not act as though you are getting married, then shed great crocodile tears when the pain hits. If you cannot have an end in mind – an end that will be within 18 to 30 months, then the end that you will come to will not be the one you had in mind.

Wikipedia’s definition of dating: “Dating is any social activity performed as a pair or even a group with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as their partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse.” Notice where dating ends up. For some – dating is the activity of looking for a suitable partner for an intimate, sexual relationship. For others, dating is the activity of looking for a suitable, lifelong, intimate partner to marry. Yes, when dating, there is an end in mind. It is either sex or marriage or sex and marriage. You must be mature enough emotionally and chronologically to be able to decide if you can make any of these decisions.

Romantic dating is a serious relationship that causes many to forget or ignore their friends. If you are still a teenager, and start seriously dating, you will not realize until later in life that you missed out on a lot of emotional development, fun, and growth if you did not date. The adolescence time of life (between ages 13 and 21 or 25) is a time for fun, adventure, intellectual growth, emotional development, and experiencing life-changing decisions. If one starts dating before he or she can make independent life-changing decisions and have the time to look back on these decisions and intelligently evaluate the results, he or she will be making the mistake of a lifetime.

Teenagers, what are you goals in life?

If you start dating too early, your sex drive may determine your goals. You want to be in a position where you can determine the direction of your sex drive and not let your sex drive determine your direction. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you want to finish high school and go to college? Do you want to have children now? Do you want to have children before you get married? Do you want to have a job before you get married? Do you want to be able to make your own choices without needing anyone else to consult?

You can see that if you start dating before you make these decisions, you will most likely be put out of circulation. Dating puts you out of circulation and sex makes objectivity very difficult to attain.

What then should teenagers do? I am saying they should not date. Even if you are a single adult and you cannot decide when the end will be in your dating, then don’t date. Teens, during the maturing years, it is a time for socialization. That is having lots of “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” without strings attached. No commitment. No sex. No kissing. No late nights or sleepless nights.

Dating at a young age when you cannot make serious decisions that dating requires is like sitting in front of a hot oven with the door open and not expecting to feel the heat. Soon, you will feel the heat. Humor me with my allegory. When you go inside the hot oven, you will be properly cooked – that’s marriage. Staying outside the oven too long will cause you to spoil and spoil very fast. Well – I hope that makes sense.

Just remember that sex goes by supply and demand. The more you have it, the more you want it. It is easier to control the desire while you are a virgin than to start and want to stop. Another point is some may not have sex but they fall seriously in love too early in life and become emotionally crippled and intellectually dwarfed. Be patient. Enjoy your developing years. Have fun.

• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragment.org, telephone 327-19809 or visit www.soencouragement.org.

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