Set aside the fact that the concept of dating is something that’s only been around for a handful of decades in Western culture. And the reality that most people don’t even start dating in-person because it’s all orchestrated online. And the predicament that everyone has a different agenda for dating. How on earth do we navigate this social paradigm in a healthy way? Especially in the Greek system?
Well let me first say that as an Arizona State undergrad, I experienced a lot of unhealthy relationships. I didn’t really understand how to go about dating because I was trying to teach myself. Lots of experimenting. Lots of mistakes. Lots of trial and error.
By the time I joined Delta Zeta, I had already dated a couple of guys. Growing up in a Christian home, I was taught to ONLY date Christians and NOT have premarital sex. Did I take their advice? Nope. On Sundays, I wore my church hat and attended services alone. During the week, I’d mack on my significant other, who had no idea about my relationship with Jesus. Maybe you can relate?
Looking back, I wish that someone had shared a healthy dating perspective with me (and taught me the ropes of how to flirt with excellence - ha!). We can’t just turn to Relationships 4:5-20 in the Bible and discover all there is to know about “Biblical Dating 101.” But we can look at the metanarrative of God’s story and see that dating is a great opportunity to:
1. Learn how to prioritize community
We were created to do life with other people. God himself exists as 3 in 1 - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As image bearers of God, we are called to invest in other relationship for encouragement, service and love. Infatuation can cause us to forget this great need, and we find ourselves losing relationships with friends and family. Discipline yourself to make time for both; use balance and boundaries.
2. Live with intention and purpose
It’s easy for us to overlook the point of dating and jump right into the excitement of love. Though DTR’s can feel awkward, it’s part of growing up. Pause to clarify expectations about the relationship with your significant other. Some people date to find a spouse; others date to have a companion; others for a free meal. It’s worth the conversation as the two of you decide how to move forward in the relationship. It might even save a couple broken hearts.
3. Put Jesus at the center of it all
The whole point of believing in something is that it should be a big deal in our lives. It impacts our morals, daily decisions and lifestyle choices. Make sure that you’re seeking out God’s will when it comes to your romantic relationships. Believe it or not, He cares about your love life and knows what’s best for you. Talk to Him about it. If you’re a Christian, it’s important to share in that journey with your significant other and be comfortable talking about Jesus.
4. Extend and receive grace
We’re imperfect people who all need a Savior. When you combine two sinners together, there’s obviously going to be messy situations. Conflict is normal and good when executed in love and truth. Lots of people have seen poor examples of conflict in their lives, so we either avoid it altogether or continue the unhealthy cycle. Jesus makes it possible for us to reconcile our differences and grow in commitment with one another. Let’s leave the “edited” version of ourselves behind and step into real relationships.
5. Balance what’s most important in life
There’s a saying that says true love makes you more of who you are, not less. Hopefully your dating relationship compliments your work, faith, hobbies and dreams. As Greeks, it’s vital to learn how to steward your time with excellence and surround yourself with people who can support your long-term goals. Romance can easily take up the majority of our resources, so make sure to proactively and intentionally plan out your days. We all need a well-rounded lifestyle in order to stay physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy.
Dating isn’t a black and white part of life, my friends. But our Lord makes it possible to not only live in these grey areas; He makes it possible to actually thrive in them! Greek InterVarsity can hopefully play a role in discovering what it looks like for you to date healthy.
Here are a few resources that I highly recommend as you learn to navigate this journey: