A few months before leaving Barrouallie I began teaching on relationships at our Young Adults meeting every Friday. During each these lessons we discussed what a dating relationship would look like if our final goal was marriage with the person who God had chosen for our lives.
Some of the changes this would bring were obvious (you ask “is this a person God may want me to marry?” Instead of “am I attracted to this person?”) but others took a lot more time to truly understand. One truth in particular took them weeks to grasp because it goes against pretty much everything they believed about relationships.
There has to be a dating stage before your pre-dating stage
I know this is confusing so allow me to explain…
95% of the time a couple won’t go out and start dating right away since even though they may be really interested in a person, they don’t truly know them. Therefore instead of asking that person out on a date you would invite them to something that had a lower commitment level like going to get coffee or ice-cream. This would allow you to get to know each other after working through the initial “awkward silence” and if your careful it can even be done without anyone else finding out. The general idea is after going to get coffee or ice-cream a certain number of times your ready to make a decision about entering a dating relationship.
Now I have nothing against the coffee stage of a relationship because it keeps things from becoming too serious right away. This is especially true if your thinking of marriage in the coffee stage since there’s no way to know whether or not that person is someone God may want you to marry without learning more about them.
My point isn’t that the coffee stage is a problem….instead I think we should make it longer by creating a separate relationship stage BEFORE the coffee stage begins.
Now before you start looking for a Bible passage that teaches this there isn’t. My belief that there needs to be a pre-dating stage for our pre-dating stage comes through my own teenage years.
Take a few moments with me this afternoon and remember what it was like to be a teenager (go buy some stridex pads for your acne if it helps). How long did it take you to go from “wow that persons beautiful!” To “do you want to get a cup of coffee?” If your anything like me while the physical act may take a week or so , mentally you were already thinking of conversation starters and jokes for the upcoming coffee “date”
Did you notice that there was no real evaluation stage where I focused on learning what kind of person she was before entering the coffee stage?
“Oh come on!” You might say, “the coffee is all about learning what kind of person she is!” That’s true, but in all of my first coffee stage dates I didn’t really learn too much about the person
- Because I was too busy trying to get through the awkward silence
- Thinking about what I should (or shouldn’t) be saying
- Trying to make myself look awesome (I am awesome, but it’s hard to be that way in a stressful situation)
- And attempting to find the deeper meaning in everything she said
After the first or second coffee date one of two things happens…either you become comfortable with each other and move into a dating relationship, or drown your sorrows in pepsi and baked goods. Either way the result of a coffee stage proves there needs to be a relationship stage before it.
For those who don’t move on a pre-coffee stage would save heartache and empty calories
And those who move into the dating relationship still don’t truly know the other person….they are in a position to get to know the person better, but following the coffee stage have just become comfortable with one another.
Think about all the pain, sorrow, and empty calories that could be avoided if there was a stage before coffee.
What if we knew that guy was an egotistical jerk, or that girl was incredibly controlling BEFORE the pre-dating stage.
What if it was possible for us to honor God by only taking that first step with those who we feel may be God’s will for marriage instead of going from interest to coffee in seconds?