Christian Dating In the Evangelical Culture: 10 Weird and Confusing Stages of the Modern Relationship.
A friend sent me this article: Dating in the Hook-Up Culture: 10 Weird and Confusing Stages of the Modern Relationship, recently published on elitedaily.com. While not completely accurate of my dating misadventures, it’s pretty close. In fact it describes to a T the shape of the dating scene for many of my friends. Well, many of my more “worldly” friends. I have dear friends from Texas and Wheaton that are quite conservative and firmly believe in a Christian outlook on dating. For them, I have written this short post about the weird and confusing stages in modern Christian relationships.
1. Praying for Future Spouse
We’ve all heard these prayers. Equal parts “fleshly” desperation and authentic spiritual earnestness, they usually go something like this, “Dear God, I just pray right now for my future spouse. God, I don’t know what he looks like, but probably like Hugh Jackman. Just keep him safe and healthy and herpes-free. And just, God, keep his soul pure, and his hands, God, off that slut’s boobs. Amen”
2. The Testimony Sharing
It always starts innocently enough. Or at least it has to seem that way. Your close friends have known you’ve had a crush on that someone for a while now, and you finally have the guts to do something about it. So you ask them nonchalantly to share their testimony or their story. You don’t really care about their story, and will probably not remember most of it as you’ll sit there leaning forward nodding intently and trying not to be distracted by the dreamy eyes or low cut shirt. While walking out the door, the interested party suggests, “Hey it was great to hear your story. Do you want to get coffee sometime? I’d love to hear more about what God’s doing in your life.” This is a lie. You want to put your tongue in their mouth. But you will listen to what they say about what they perceive to be God’s work in their life to get there.
3. The Coffee Date
The coffee date is arguably the most important stage in this awkward and confusing, fledgling not-yet-relationship. This is where you have to pull out the conversational skills and show that you can talk about something other than yourself, which is what the testimony time was all about. Sometimes this stage can last three to four “chats.” We’ll call them chats because no one is certain whether or not it’s a date even though he pays, and one or both is telling all their friends they think it’s a date.
4. Shameful Confession Time
This stage might involve alcohol, but most of the time, (weirdly) it doesn’t. This is the stage where one somehow, following some unspoken rule, gets super emotional and shares insecurities, fears, and perhaps past sins (like eating disorders, pornography addictions, not being rooted daily in the Word, etc.) or what Evangelical Christians like to call “struggles.” If the relationship is to move forward, this confession time results in some crying and hug time accompanied by some light petting and maybe a cheek kiss.
5. Outsourcing Prayer to your Small Group
But after the confessional time, one starts to get second thoughts. One thinks to oneself, “Can I really date a non-Virgin? Can I see myself dating someone who wears jorts?” So one decides to give it over to Jesus. And one’s small group. Here, the small group/cell group/prayer group is asked to pray for the budding relationship. “God, we just ask that you just give Niki discernment, and forgiveness, God, for the things that Taylor has done, and we just ask, God, that you bless them and help them, God, just follow you.”
6. The Makeout (and Subsequent Shame)
Feeling more confident and Spirit-filled after the prayer session, one realizes that they want to put the other’s tongue in their mouth more than they care what the other person did in the past. So they makeout. And then feel bad about it. The thought process goes something like, “We’re not boyfriend/girlfriend yet…we haven’t really committed to each other yet…oh God-I-mean-gosh, what if we don’t get together? Did I just commit adultery?” This sexual guilt leads into stage seven.
7. The RDT
The famed RDT: the relationship defining talk. If one can struggle through the blundering awkwardness of the RDT, then one is ready to be in a relationship. Key words and phrases include: take things slow, glorify God, facebook official, and lots of use of the word Love but never in an “I love you” way.
8. The GF/BF label
Now the couple lives into their BF/GF status. Going on dates, not dating other people, or even looking at other people, really. Gotta bounce those eyes to stay pure.
9. Feeling guilty after getting past first base
Almost inevitably, despite the best intentions, a make out session will get hot and steamy, things will get out of control, and the “flesh” will get the better of a couple. Whether this manifests itself in some under-the-shirt groping or below-the-belt ministrations, the couple crosses a spoken (or unspoken) line. And then they feel guilty about it. Here they either break up, or decide to move on to the next level.
After tears and praying for God to restore one’s “spiritual virginity” by reversing the effects of that late night boob grab, the man buys the ring, gets down on one knee, and the rest is documented by a photographer who is not that great but goes to one of their churches and spot colors the bridesmaids’ dresses in post processing.