Several months ago I was invited by the Sichuan University of Finance and Economics and the Sichuan University of Nationalities to conduct a seminar on “Setting Boundaries in Dating.” The purpose of the seminar was to provide an opportunity for dialog and reflection with the participants, who are expected to get married within the next decade, and to help ensure that when that time comes they would use their utmost wisdom in making the most important decision of their lives.

During the two seminar sessions, several hundred lively and interested young people raised a number of questions. Among the questions, the most important one was “how to date.”

Legitimate reasons for dating

From the mail I receive and the questions from young people, it is clear that dating nowadays has strayed from its legitimate purpose. What concerns people about dating now is sensual gratification and sex. No wonder there are so many people who are hurt by their dating experiences. Dating should be something that is full of joy and happiness. When you know the legitimate purpose of dating, you can enjoy your dating experience.

One of the basic reasons for dating is social interaction. Wholesome dating experiences can prepare you for a happy, mature, and long lasting marriage. Unwholesome dating, on the other hand, is fraught with the tragedy of a frail and shortened married life. We see this happen far too often.

Another reason for dating is, of course, to choose a spouse. Dating provides you with the opportunity to refine your power of observation. It enables you to make certain what type of personality and disposition is best suited for you. Dating provides the best opportunity for you to find your ideal spouse, and to decide whether the person is the one you would want to spend your life with.

The purpose of dating is not sexual adventure or sexual conquest. Nothing is more of a hindrance to the development of a friendship than immature sex. When premarital sex is the primary aim of dating, it usually blocks the kind of communication dating is designed for.

What is the first point in dating?

Josh McDowell, world renowned lecturer and author of 77 books, including Givers, Takers & Other Kinds of Lovers, says that what is so attractive about dating is the fact that it creates an atmosphere in which the two people could become friends. Therefore, going to a movie on the first date is an unwise idea. Imagine spending two hours sitting shoulder to shoulder in a pitch dark theater with eyes fixed on the screen. What one gets is entertainment, not communication. So, do your best to save the movie date for a later time.

Going to a movie on the first date is an unwise idea.

If you are not quite ready to begin a relationship, or if you are seldom asked for a date but are inclined to have a friendship with a friend of the opposite sex, you may then plan a picnic or a dinner with several friends from either sex. Note should be taken that it is better if the number of men and women in such situations is not equal, to decrease the pressure of matching . After all, the primary purpose of such gatherings is to get to know each other and have a good time.

Young people today are no longer that sensitive to the roles once played by men and women during dating. Instead what they look for — and what they want to become — are understanding and caring people.

Cultivate wholesome dating

In order to have wholesome dating, think carefully through the entire process from beginning to end. When you treat your date with sincerity and respect from the beginning, your future dating should be filled with joy and happiness. This is the approach you should have towards someone who might become your spouse in the future. You will discover that you are also a beneficiary in the process. Josh McDowell’s book makes a number of suggestions about how to date that are listed below. You might want to try them. It’s likely they will bring you much happiness during your dating years!

Which of these activities do you want to invite people to do with you? Why not pick one today to try out with others, or with that special someone you are interested in.

This article was written by: Serena Wang

Photo Credit: Dave See