Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Boiling Waters PH.

As I reflect on the question of when young people should start dating, my thoughts are deeply intertwined with the reasons behind why we date in the first place. It’s evident to me now that the costs of dating can be high—experiencing crushing breakups, falling into sexual sin, enduring shocking betrayal, facing sudden rejection, and the devastating heartbreak of love that never culminates in marriage. So, why did I, like so many others, dive into dating so quickly?

I’ve come to understand that part of the reason lies in Satan’s deception. He skillfully masks the risks associated with dating, portraying romance as essential for a fulfilling life and casting any alternative as lonely and meaningless. He preys on our desires, convincing us that true living requires “love,” and that the highest pleasures are found within romantic relationships.

Looking back on my own life, I see how I fell into this trap early on. I had my first “girlfriend” in highschool, shared my first kiss with someone else, and then found myself in a new relationship nearly every year through college. From a young age, I sought affection, safety, and intimacy from girls instead of turning to God. My early dating life was marked by relationships that were too serious for our age, lasted too long, and therefore ended in significant pain. I often declared “I love you” prematurely and to too many, playing right into the devil’s hands.

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Why did I, and why do any of us, date? I once believed that dating was about finding happiness, belonging, and being valued. I thought that my deepest needs would be met in the intimacy of a relationship. We all yearn to be part of something, to belong to someone else’s story while inviting them into ours. We desire to make a difference, not to waste our lives. For many, dating is an attempt to fill these voids with love, mistaking the pursuit of happiness and significance for the pursuit of marriage.

If I could turn back time, I would have waited to date until marriage was a realistic next step. This realization came from understanding the clear differences between dating and marriage. A dating couple is never a married couple, and recognizing this can protect us from a lot of pain and failure in dating.

I’ve learned that life isn’t primarily about love and marriage. The greatest prize is to know Christ and be known by him. The true treasure in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy, which is safest within the context of marriage. For those of us who seek this kind of intimacy, marriage is the goal, and clarity about whom to marry is crucial.

In terms of when to start dating, it’s wise to wait until marriage is a realistic possibility, considering factors like age, maturity, financial stability, and spiritual readiness. Some might disagree with this perspective, but it’s important to recognize that we can date long before we’re ready to marry, and that doesn’t mean we should.

While waiting to date, there’s plenty to do. Life is about serving Jesus, whether we’re single or married. We can set an example for others, serve our communities, prepare ourselves to be good spouses, and find joy in God. This approach to life and dating isn’t about passivity; it’s about actively pursuing God’s plan for our lives, serving others, and growing in readiness for future relationships.

In summary, my advice to my younger self and to others is to wait to date until you’re ready to seriously consider marriage. Use this time to grow, to serve, and to find your identity in Christ, not in a romantic relationship. This isn’t just about biding time; it’s about preparing for a future that glorifies God, whether in marriage or in singleness.

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