EDITOR’S NOTE:  Each He Said-She Said column features a reader's question with responses from a male and female point of view.  If you’ve got a question about anything related to living the single life, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION:  Is casual dating okay for a single Christian?

HE SAID:  Prior to answering this, we must clarify what is meant by “casual dating.”  By definition (Merriam-Webster.com), casual means “occurring by chance … occurring without regularity … showing little concern … done without commitment.” And dating means “to go out on usually romantic dates.”  Date is not defined in the sense that we are speaking. 

This isn’t surprising to me, that date is not defined.  It is rarely “defined” and can carry a range of meanings, depending upon who you ask.  From just the definitions that we have for casual, two people can have all sorts of ideas and expectations at the outset of a relationship and come away with a variety of mixed messages.  If one enters in “by chance” (or by God’s divine intervention) and another person enters in “showing little concern or without commitment,” there will be a huge discrepancy of emotions involved.

In college, my roommates and I determined that a “date” had to consist of three elements, there had to be interest in the other person, we had to spend money, and we had to go out somewhere.  In those days, we were pretty simplistic in the way we thought, but we did highlight one element that is important to note, interest.

Before I elaborate on this element, I would like to share some thoughts on dating itself.

Clarification

Before dating, it’s important to ask yourself “Why are you dating?”  And “What is your purpose for dating?”  Whether you are trying to find Mr. or Mrs. Right or trying to avoid sitting at home another Saturday night, it is crucial to be honest with yourself and answer these two questions prior to dating at all.

If you don’t have a purpose, you will always achieve it.

Observation

My philosophy as a youth leader was to encourage the guys to spend as much time as possible with a “person of interest” in a casual friendship before actually dating.  In this way, they could observe the girl, watch her with her friends and discover things about her before actually going out together.  Many times the guys discovered that they really didn’t want to date the girl after all and it spared feelings, emotions, and group dynamics.  Observing and learning about a person before “dating” them is important, especially if you both worship or work together.

Communication

In any relationship, communication is vital to the success of the relationship.  One of the first discussions to consider having with the other person is your purpose and intention for going out.  Even though we would like to think that we all have the same intentions, many people will have different reasons and expectations.  I have been in a number of dating relationships where I later found out that she was not dating me.  It is always best to be open and honest in your communication.

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. 

—Proverbs 24:26

Admiration