UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating and Sex




Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Content originally appeared in Campus Life magazine. Copyright © 2001-2005 by columnist, Tim Stafford. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating & Sex

Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating & Sex

Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Lesson 3: Anxious and Confused about Dating

Anxious and Confused about Dating


Why am I Dateless?

Question: I am 19, and I've never had a date. I don't know why. I get along well with guys. I have lots of friends, love sports, love to laugh and have fun. I'm a good listener and an all-around fun person. My friends can't wait for me to have my first boyfriend. Neither can I. Do you think God is holding back a man for me until I do something? What do I have to do? I see all my friends with boyfriend after boyfriend. I've become very jealous of those in relationships.

Answer: What you're feeling is natural, but I have to say it's off the mark. A boyfriend will not make you completely happy. I've seen way too many relationships to think that!

Another way your thinking is off target is your sense that God must be holding out on you. If God is willing to freely give his own Son to you, do you think he'd hold out on boyfriends? I'm not trying to convince you not to want a boyfriend. That would be pointless. God has designed us so that as we mature we begin to long for deep, caring and sexual relations with a member of the opposite sex. The fundamental longing is to be expressed in marriage. The way it translates into life at your age is a longing for boyfriends. It's hard to long for something your friends have and you don't. Even so, I want to urge you to try to keep your thoughts straight. The less you can focus your life on the magic of boyfriends, the better off you'll be.

A boyfriend will likely come along in time. The timing can be hard to explain. Some girls attract them like magnets, others don't. And I'm not exactly sure why. But trust me, in the long run timing and "magnetism" are no big deal.

Much more significant is whether, when a boyfriend comes along, you are able to form the kind of relationship that is deep and meaningful, that someday leads you to marry with a strong sense of commitment and purity. But you don't get ready for that by pining over the boys who don't call. You get ready for such relationships by developing into the right kind of woman—spiritually, socially, physically and mentally.

As much as you can, forget about boyfriends. Concentrate more on what is happening in your life right now. Live it as fully as you can, and try to let the boyfriends take care of themselves.


Looking for Love

Question: I am 17 years old and a senior in high school. I have never dated or had a boyfriend, and up until recently I've been thankful for that. But now I really want to find a meaningful, God-centered relationship. I think I'm spiritually and emotionally ready. But I wonder if anyone will ever want me. What do I do? Why do I feel this way?

Answer: Your last question is easy to answer. You feel this way because you're normal. God made us so that male and female would need each other and would feel this need strongly. Most people, by the time they reach 17, are very aware of this, and most people suffer some doubt about whether their longings will ever be fulfilled. That's especially true for you, not having had a boyfriend yet. But many people who've had lots of dates experience the same doubts. You want something you don't have, and it's very hard to know where it will come from.

Now for the harder question. What do you do? In one sense you don't do anything. You are not in charge of finding the person who will fill your longings. That's God's department. After all, you get to marry just one person out of the roughly 3 billion members of the opposite sex. Only God can sort through those kinds of odds.

You are in charge of something, though: yourself. God wants you to be a caring person, someone who doesn't spend all her time feeling sorry for herself, someone who has an active, useful life, someone who takes care of her body and her mind, someone who prays and draws closer to God's Spirit. I could add to the list, but I'm sure you get the idea. Such a person will be attractive to others—and in particular, attractive to the person who can meet her needs.

Timing is hard to figure. I've never been able to put my finger on the reason some girls attract guys by the handfuls, and others (who are just as pretty, just as wonderful) don't. It doesn't make sense. Nevertheless, in the long run I've seen that it works out. Sooner or later the guys get smart, and they find the girls they never noticed before.

You really can't control the timing. You can only control yourself. Make the most of your life right now. Try not to think too much about what's not happening, and focus on what is. And ask God for patience. Someday you'll look back and feel glad that he guided your life as he did.


I'm Afraid She'll Reject Me

Question: Girls don't seem to like me or want to go out with me. I don't know why, because I'm really a good guy. There's a girl I like in my youth group, but I'm afraid she might reject me, too. Should I ask her out?

Answer: Even though most of us want to love someone and to be loved back, we can be pretty picky about who that someone will be. Sometimes people judge each other on the outside appearances, rejecting anyone who doesn't quite fit the image of what's considered cool or attractive. It's unfair, and often cruel, but it seems to be a fact of life.

During high school, the focus on appearance and style is at its peak. But as you get older, you'll find that other qualities—like honesty, kindness and integrity—matter as much, if not more, than the externals. Often, people who were considered unpopular in high school go on to make more of their lives than the popular kids.

In the meantime, I hope you have friends and family who recognize what you already know, that you're "really a good guy." Having at least one caring friend can take some of the sting out of the rejection you feel.

So what should you do about the girl you like? I'd emphasize building a friendship. Talk to her. Listen to her. Let her know you like her as a friend. Allow her to see the quality person you are, and get to know what she's like, too. Your friendship may lead to romance, but let that happen slowly and naturally—if at all. So make friendship your goal.


Is Dating Wrong?

Question: My youth pastor said the idea of dating doesn't come from the Bible. He said it's something that was created by man, so that makes it "of the flesh." He also said God will give us the one we should marry, so we should wait until we find that "right one" to date. He said he doesn't want to see us get hurt. I have always believed in dating as long as God is in the relationship. Now I'm confused.

Answer: Join the crowd. When I look over the "dating" scene, I see confusion everywhere. I also see a lot of heartache. Many people experience dating that is superficial and destructive. For Christians it ought to be different. So some Christians (like your pastor) have decided dating is wrong. They think you should wait until you find the partner of your dreams and then "court" with a view to marriage. While I respect this view, I'm concerned that it doesn't provide much guidance for people who are too young to think about marriage, or who just haven't found someone they're ready to treat that seriously. Nevertheless, they're still attracted to the opposite sex.

What do they do if they've sworn off dating? Sometimes they get serious way too soon. They push into courtship because they believe there's no other alternative. For instance, I heard of a guy who didn't believe in dating. So he told a girl he wouldn't go out with her until she agreed she was ready to consider marriage. But how could she think about marrying him? She didn't even know him!

More often, people who don't date "hang out." They stay "just friends" and won't allow any romance in the picture. Does this improve matters? Not necessarily. In many cases, "not dating" works out to be even more confusing than dating.

I'd much rather that somebody propose a plan. Call it a date if you want, or call it something else. The word doesn't matter. People should have a purpose when they get together. I can think of three good ones for couples who are not courting:

1) They can have fun together. You can have fun with more than two people. So a "date" can and should often involve other people. But you have to plan to have fun! You have to decide on particular activities, instead of just "hanging out" and listening to each other ask, "What do you want to do?"

2) They can get to know each other. This means talking together and asking questions so they actually learn something. Or, it can mean taking up activities that reveal more about one or both of them. (For example, if one of you is a model airplane buff, you might want to go to a club meeting together.) The key question, which everyone should ask at the end of every date (or whatever you call it), is, "What have I learned?" If you're not sure, you need to work harder at planning a worthwhile time together.

3) They can serve together. This possibility, which dating couples seldom think of, can be fun and can help couples get to know each other. If you can't imagine ways to serve other people together, ask your pastor, or go to a volunteer center. There are a million and one ways.

Now let me come back to your pastor's words. You heard him say that dating was a human, not a biblical, idea, and therefore it must be "of the flesh." I'm not sure I agree with that line of thinking. Democracy is also a human, not a biblical, idea. Yet it's a very good one. Similarly, though on a lighter note, football, baseball and basketball are human inventions, not biblical ones. Even weddings are not a biblical idea—they were invented centuries after the Bible was written. Just because something isn't in the Bible doesn't make it wrong.

You also heard your pastor say God would give you the one you are to marry, so you should wait to date until that one appears. I agree that God will lead you to the right one, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't look around or make any effort to get to know the opposite sex. Your mind is one of the tools that God uses to show you his direction.

I do, though, have to agree with your pastor on one important point. Dating, the way it's practiced in the 21st century, causes way too much heartbreak and immorality. The way many people date is a mess. Like your pastor, I want to keep you from getting hurt. But I don't feel that the best way to do that is to give up on dating. Rather, I believe guys and girls need to get together in healthy, helpful ways. And I believe they can. You put it well when you said you believe in dating as long as "God is in the relationship." I believe that's possible. In fact, I know it is, because I've seen it.


Is it OK to Date for Fun?

Question: One of my Christian friends believes people shouldn't date until they're ready to get married. She thinks you should only date "the right one." Personally, I like dating. Is it OK to date just for fun?

Answer: Before I give you my opinion, I encourage you to talk about this issue with your parents. Their feelings should play a large role in the decisions you make about dating.

In my opinion, it's OK to date for fun. Along with being fun, I think dating can be very valuable. It gives you real-life experience with the opposite sex and opportunities to build healthy relationships. Hopefully, when you are ready to marry, your dating experiences will have given you the skills to develop a marriage based on love, trust and mutual respect.

Another school of thought, which your friend seems to be following, says dating should only happen as part of courtship. Courtship is dating with the intention of marriage. Two people "court" one another until they feel they know each other well enough to marry. This means teenagers don't date at all, because they're too young to seriously consider marriage.

I respect your friend's approach, but I feel a little differently. I think finding the "right one" usually comes through a lot of trial and error. If a couple can treat each other with real respect, can date in ways that get them talking to each other (not just going to movies and making out), and keep their sexual desires under control, then I think they are doing just what it takes to find the "right one."

Dating can be a good way for you to find out what kind of person will be the "right one." It's also an important way for you to learn how to become the "right one" for somebody else.


Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Content originally appeared in Campus Life magazine. Copyright © 2001-2005 by columnist, Tim Stafford. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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