By Allison Antram
You “hang out” every day. You text constantly. You hold hands at the movie and maybe more. It looks a whole lot like dating, but in fact, you’re “just friends” or “talking.” If I’m being honest, I’m still not too sure I know what that means. This has become a widespread epidemic that I have come to refer to as “fake dating.”
I have noticed this happening more and more – couples (or not so much) acting like they’re dating, but without the label. Let me be clear, going on one date does not commit you to marriage. And dating, even dating with a foundation in Christ, doesn’t guarantee “happily ever after” either. Though Asbury has such a reputation for dating – with “ring by spring” and a reference to it in almost every chapel – we have a definite problem with intentionality and commitment. While we aren’t very willing to talk about it, I believe this is a real problem that should be addressed.
“Date” seems to be a four-letter word now. If you want to spend time with someone you’re interested in, you don’t go on a date; you “hang out.” Hanging out has a friendly implication; date has an interest implication – act accordingly. If you aren’t willing to discuss what is happening you will soon have a guessing game of “what is this relationship?” without knowing how to feel or what to call yourselves. And then there’s “talking,” which I’m pretty sure is just a clever word for flirting. I recognize the need to get to know someone; that’s the purpose of a date.
No one is to blame – this isn’t a gender-specific problem. We have a tendency to get whatever we can but give as little as we have to. So in our relationships, we seek emotional or physical fulfillment but do it with as little commitment as necessary. Guys flirt but don’t pursue. Girls flirt back and let it happen. Godly relationships aren’t built on flirting, they are built on commitment. If you don’t start your relationship with a clear goal in mind, you won’t go far.
To be honest, I’ve never dated. However, I do a lot of watching and a lot of listening, and I know what I would want that to look like. I want a real date instead of just hanging out. I want conversations, not text messages. I want intentionality, not confusion.
Have realistic expectations for yourself and set your standards without compromising them. What kind of story do you want to tell your kids someday? I know I don’t want mine to start with “we were just hanging out.”