After some serious thought, I have updated this article a bit. I think you will like some of the changes, and all of the important things are still here.
Today I read an article that I really liked. Teenage Dating for Girls Part I
“Teen Dating for Girls- Part II.
” Having girls that are not yet teens I was interested, and I wanted to see what the author had to say. One of my favorite things was that she openly said, These are our rules, they might be different for other families, but these are some basics. I really liked that. Too many people kind of say, hey these are our rules and should be everyone else’s as well. I am going to say right up front that I am following the same line. These are our rules. They might work for you, they might not, but they are our rules, you don’t have to like them. (See the warning message on the side —–> )
However, it struck me as I was reading this, that while this was a list of the rules for girls it should also be at least a starting point for a list for boys. After all, the boys that are taking our daughters out are just as much in need of guidance as our daughters. More importantly, our sons need guidance on what is expected of them if they want to date.
The great thing about a list like this is that many of the rules apply in both directions:
You need to
be at least 18 display a certain level of maturity before you can start dating.
While this is not a hard and fast rule, it should be a good rule of thumb. But, why wait so long? Well the answer is simple. Dating (courting) is really about trying to find a mate. Since this is a list for boys, they are looking for someone to be their wife. If you are not serious about being ready to get married you should not really be dating.
I have had some time to think about this rule. While is still mostly stand behind it, I think putting an arbitrary age on it is a bit problematic. My wife and I started dating early and at that point in time I really was looking for someone to marry. I think the age limit really needs to be more of a maturity limit. So I have reworded the title.
Let me clarify here, dating is not the same as going out with a mixed group of boys and girls, even if there is some obvious pairing. The more obvious the pairing the more likely it is that a chaperon is necessary, but this is not the same thing as dating. This is the time when young men and women should learn to be around each other. See how the other reacts without all the other social pressures of actually dating and the need for “romantic interests.”
Getting to know the Family; being friends first
Just like the list for girls the list for boys should include that if a boy wants to date a girl, he should be willing to spend time meeting her family and spend some time with them. This is also true of the girl. She should have a good idea of what kind of family he comes from. Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters might also be able to see things that our starry eyed young man can’t.
To that end, being friends first is a huge deal. It is not always true that you will build a friendship before a romantic interest begins because some times they happen at the same time. Again remembering that dating is about finding the right person to spend the rest of your life with, and that while you are young it is very easy to be blinded by those romantic feelings. If you have time to get to know the person first it makes that “happily ever after” that much easier. Besides it is a lot easier to get to know someone’s family when you aren’t under the pressure of trying to impress them because you are romantically interested in one of them. If you have spent time hanging out working in their garden, playing with their brothers and sisters, talking with their parents you will have a much better idea of who it is you are getting involved with.
Girls who want to date my sons, if you come to my house it is not a test. It is not a trial, you are not there to be judged. You are there to make friends, to learn and understand, to see the young man that you are interested in, in situations that you might not have seen him in before.
Being a Gentleman Is a Must.
Dear my sons.
I really hope that I don’t have to tell you this. I really hope that you have seen me treat your mother and your sisters with a level of respect that helps you to understand what it means to be a gentleman. I don’t always pull your mom’s chair out, and I joke about opening doors and letting them go in first (dragons) but it is incredibly important stuff. If you are not a gentleman around your date and I see it, I will say something about it.
When the tools are put away and it is time to go out on a date there are some things that you leave behind, on the farm as it were. This is just a short list but it should give you a good starting point:
- Swearing (you should not be doing this anyway.)
- Passing gas and burping.
- Talking about your bodily functions or those of the farm animals, (Unless that is a serious part of your conversation.)
- Chewing gum or your food like a cow (sheep.)
- Watching the TV and not your date. (I know every place you go has one up on the wall, remember that what is on TV is never as interesting as the person sitting across from you or maybe next to you. NEVER!)
- Discussing where the food you are eating comes from (again if this is not a serious part of your conversation and even then, once it is on the plate this is generally considered bad form.)
There is a flip side to this of course. The woman who you are dating should know how to act like a lady. I won’t say that…
Ok guys, let’s make this simple. we live on a hobby farm. We have animals, and we go and plant and pull weeds and generally get messy and gross at times. Your sisters are not excluded from this work. In the same way that you are not excluded from doing dishes, laundry, and general house work. We are equal opportunity mess makers. Your date should understand that. See the section above about being friends first.
What am I driving at here? Think about your sisters. When it is time to put the tools away and head off to church or nice dinner think of the way they act and dress and are treated. That should be a good measuring tape for your date. If the young woman you are dating does not think enough of herself to dress appropriately for a date, what is she going to think of you? Again, understanding what you want for each other is very important and why getting to know someone well before you start dating is important. Some young women dress, well um let’s just say immodestly, because that is what everyone else is doing. But some young women do so because they feel that is the only way they can get and hold your attention. Here is a hint: If that is the only thing keeping your attention on her, your relationship is in serious trouble. Let her know that you have more respect for her than that. If she feels that way, it is likely that what she needs is a friend and not a date. I am not saying that you can solve her problems. I am not saying you should even try. I am not saying that she even has a problem. But I think that there needs to be a level of understanding between you before you start dating.
Asking Permission Or Maybe Not
While I still stand behind this idea, I also think that it is, well, let’s just say that there are some difficulties here.
First, thinking that asking a persons parents means that they are then going to say yes to you is a mistake. A person, even a child does not belong to their parents. This is particularly true in the case of romantic relationships.
Second, we are talking about a commitment for the rest of your life. If we are talking about “The Question” this is not something that should be sprung on any one ever. You should have some long and serious discussions about this way in advance. Keep in mind that a person is never truly free to say yes, if they are not also truly free to say no. Yes, a strong enough willed person will be able to make the right decisions no matter the circumstances, but very often we feel outside pressure. If you already have the approval of their parents are they going to be worried about disappointing their parents if they say no?
When it come to “The Question” I am a big proponent of popping the question part really being a show and tell for family and friends. You should have already talked about this in depth, and maybe even asked the person in private, so that when they are standing there in front of their family, friends, a crowded restaurant, Yankee Stadium and you ask “The Question” you really should already know the answer. (Hint: it helps the world at large around you if you are good actor and can act surprised, but if not, remember this is not really for them.)
In short asking permission can be a very slippery slope.
There is also the reality that not all families are traditional. Many parents, fathers especially, don’t respect the rights and boundaries of their daughters. This can complicate things when or if you ask permission. Again, these are discussion that you should have with your potential date / spouse before hand. See my section on being friends first. If you are already friends having this discussion with them, while it might be a little awkward won’t be totally out of left field.
This can be a pretty scary thing to do. But remember that it is a sign of respect for both the woman you are dating and the family she is coming from. I did not ask your Grandfather’s permission to date your mother. I didn’t ask his permission to marry his daughter, and I am sure that to this day, that colors our relationship. I am sure I will never measure up to what he believes his daughter deserves, but I also suspect that I would be a great deal closer to that measure if I had, had the courage to ask. Have courage. Be strong. And know that once you have asked the hardest part left will be asking her.
Again I am going to point to the section on being friends first. Getting to know her family. This becomes important when it comes time to ask. It is much easier to ask someone a difficult question when you have mucked out stalls with him, or whatever it is that you might do together.
So let’s sum it up here guys. You should not start dating until you are serious about being ready to spend the rest of your life with someone. You likely should not take someone you can’t see yourself spending the rest of your life with out on a date. You should be a gentleman, your date should be a lady. Remember that you want to live happily ever after. You might date someone who you can’t live happily ever after with, and that is ok. That is part of the dating process, but you should not go into a date, or start dating someone with the intent of not following through.
I know that some people are going to disagree with me, please feel free to let me know in the comments, but I will warn you that if you are not respectful I will not post your comment.