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Date Night Advice (DNA) Series: Dating 101
Part 3

date to make friendsA lot of folks out there claim they’re dating “just for fun.”

But I don’t buy it.

It brings to mind this story related by Candice Watters, co-founder of Boundless. She writes…

“I flipped to the Christian station to hear the hostess introducing her guests – all single. They were talking about strategies for dating…

One guest in particular – a man – stood out [as he related a recent dating experience]…

‘I was having dinner with this woman and halfway through the meal, she started talking about marriage… I mean, all I wanted was a plate of spaghetti.'”

Is that all you want out of a date? Just a little fun and a plate of spaghetti?

If so, I have two questions for you:

  1. If you only want fun, why not just go out with friends? Why go out on a date?
  2. And if you only want spaghetti, in the words of the other Boundless co-founder, Steve Watters, “Why don’t you just take your mother to dinner?”

Might I hazard a guess? Maybe because you’re hoping for a goodnight kiss you’d never want from your buddies… or your mom.

Here’s what I’m getting at: the idea of dating just for fun feels a tad disingenuous. Please understand me. I’m not suggesting those who claim to be in it just for the fun and spaghetti are liars, but I fear they’re lying to themselves, and likely don’t realize it.

I was, and I didn’t. Fun was one of my major motivations for dating back in college, and honestly, I had a blast dating (and I hope all the girls I took out felt the same way).

However, on more than one occasion, I would find myself falling for a girl only to discover “she wasn’t that into me.” That’s when I’d realize there were hidden motives driving my dating pursuits; intentions that ran deeper than the pursuit of happiness.

But perhaps you’re nothing like me. You are simply looking for a good time; no strings attached; no commitment.

Regardless, at Future Marriage University we consider “just for fun” one of the TOP10 Dumbest Reasons to Date.

Why? Because, even if that is all you’re sincerely looking for, this motive for dating is based on the premise that ultimate fulfillment is found in experience.

But, we were not made primarily for experiences, but for relationships. Look at it this way, an experience-focused mindset ends up using people as a means to enjoy experiences.

“All I want is a plate of spaghetti… in the presence of a pretty girl… who will hopefully show more interest in me than in sharing her own personal aspirations.”

In contrast, a relationship-focused mindset uses experiences to grow relationships.

“I’d like to get to know this girl. I think I’ll take her out for spaghetti.”

And it works both ways, boys and girls!

Experience-orientation: “I want to have something to do (and eat) this Friday night, so I will accept this date invitation.”

Relationship-orientation: “I want to get to know this guy, so I will go out with him.”

If you had to choose, who would you rather date?

So, instead of dating just for fun, how about this: date to make friends! With the friendship paradigm, your date isn’t centered around what you’re doing or where you’re going, it’s centered around who you’re with. It’s not experience-oriented. It’s relationship-oriented.

How I wish I had spent my entire dating life making friends. Instead, while I purported to be asking out that next pretty girl “just for fun,” inwardly I was hoping to impress her; wow her; win her. Not as a friend, mind you, but as a girlfriend.

Let me be clear: I think the long-range goal of dating; the endgame, if you will, should be marriage. (In fact, if you’re not interested in marriage, I don’t think you should be dating.)

However, you aren’t getting married when you date. You’re dating.

Unless you’re going with arranged marriage, you have to take your relationship life one date at a time. You can’t expect to know if you’re going to marry someone after only one date… or two… or three….

But you can expect to discover if that person is someone with whom you’d like to grow a friendship.

And the cool thing about this perspective on dating? It’s fun! It’s fun to make good friends! Even better, if your ultimate goal is marriage, you’re going to want to marry a good friend; your best friend. (A good lover is good at bed time, but a good friend is good all day long.)

Do you think you’re more likely to wind up married to your best friend if you spend your dating life making out or making friends?

Finally, for those with the intense desire to be married (or just find a girl/boyfriend) this friendship perspective can keep you in the present moment, focused on getting to know the person you’re with, not the person you’re hoping they’ll be.

Wondering whether the person you’ve been dating for one month is “the one,” is a little anxiety-inducing. Using the first couple of months of dating to discern whether someone has the potential of being a good friend sounds a lot more reasonable. Actually, it sounds like fun!

So date to make friends! And have fun doing it!

[Want some guidance in doing that? Consider our vision for purpose-driven dating! You can read the entire series starting with this post, and then follow along with us over at YouTube as we walk through the series in our LoveEd video blog.]

For the next post in our Dating 101 series click here:

Date for the Adventure (Dating 101)

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better?  And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!