I have a date. Once a month we go shopping for crayons and markers and paper bags, and we schedule it so that we can spend an hour or two afterwards sitting in Shonies. He drinks fruit punch, I drink sweet tea. Between us we’ve sampled everything on the menu by now. We talk about war and socialism, Game of Thrones and British Television, movie theaters and the hunger games. Afterwards we go to the theatre and order people to stand and sit, turn right or left, hand out scripts and schedules. I drop him off at his house (he doesn’t drive) and though we rehearse two or three times a week I won’t be eating with him again until next month.
He isn’t my boyfriend. He is twelve years my senior, and happily married. He is my mentor and a very close friend. I’ve known him three years.
The worst that’s befallen us happens when I have small children in tow who need a ride to rehearsal on that particular day, and we’re mistaken for one big happy family. We find this hilarious and laugh at it over our sandwiches and salads. But if my friend were an eligible young man my age society would assume we were romantically involved. In fact, we ourselves might consider ourselves romantically involved. Aren’t dates supposed to be romantic, after all?
Many people have recognized that modern dating has issues. But most people are not sure how to fix them. After all, you have to meet your future spouse somehow, don’t you? You want to have a good time and get to know cute girls and guys, and dating is the only way to do that! Some people have adopted systems like courtship and betrothal to solve these problems, but they’re confusing and vague at best. What is courtship, exactly? Is it really a betrothal if it didn’t happen when you were five years old?
This is your guide to solving all your dating issues in two easy steps. Pay close attention: the issue isn’t with the dating, its’ with the mindset surrounding it. After all, I go out to lunch every month and no one thinks anything amiss!
1. If you’re not old enough to marry you’re not old enough to date.
Seriously. If the whole argument is “How are we supposed to meet someone to marry?” the answer is obvious: “You’re not.” If you’re sixteen you shouldn’t be worrying about marriage, and thus you should be worrying about meeting someone to marry. I think there should be a ban on dating for anyone under eighteen.
2. It’s a social event, not a romantic one.
How are you supposed to get to know a girl if you aren’t allowed to date? That’s a question I’ve frequently heard from my brother, trying to sort out the myriad of complex systems sprouting up all over in conservative christian circles. A better question would be: How do you get to know someone by kissing and cuddling? If a “date” is a romantic event then your time would be better spent at home reading the girl’s facebook profile. If you want to know more about a girl then the entire point of dating is to get a chance to talk to her. If you want to talk to her without her suspecting you might be interested, invite her along with a group of friends. Treat her like a friend, not a prospective wife. Once you know someone and know her likes and dislikes, then you can move onto a more serious, romantic relationship; meeting her family, talking to her father, spending more personal time together, etc.
If you don’t know enough about her to ask her father’s permission to court then you should find out! And the way to do that is to invite her to a movie with your buddies and see if she likes it. Is it a “date”? Perhaps, but my friend and I are going to see Les Miserable in December and I’m not worrying about his intentions.
Tada! Now, if everyone in the world could wrap their mind around this our problems would be solved. Unfortunately, even though you might know it, no one else will and if you take a girl out people are bound to assume you’re romantically engaged. Try taking a kid though – maybe they’ll just think you’re married!