we’re three days into 2014 and i can already point out something that will be a huge trend this year: criticizing dating.

i’ve seen buzzfeed posts about how maybe dating isn’t right for you. i’ve seen people make resolutions that they weren’t going to date for x amount of months. there have been tweets saying you shouldn’t date until you find this person or until you are in this place in life.

that’s stupid.

i’m serious. i think that’s stupid.

while it’s popular to say that people should be dating less, i think it’s important for 2014 to be the year that dating makes its return.

i had a professor in seminary who told one of his classes that he encouraged his daughter to date as many guys as possible. for a conservative pastor, that seemed a little odd. when we asked him to explain what he meant, he told us that it was two fold:

the only way to really learn what you want in a spouse is to find out what don’t want.

the only way to be the spouse you want to one day become is to find out where your flaws are.

he didn’t encourage his daughter to get into serious relationships with guys, and he totally discouraged any form of physical relationship, but he did encourage her to go on as many dates as possible.

a date is simply an appointment for a particular time. it doesn’t have strings attached to it. it doesn’t come with physical expectations. it’s simply an appointment for a particular time.

dating has gotten a negative connotation. somehow going on a date with someone has turned into being in a serious relationship with them. it’s impossible for two people who are of the opposite sex to hang out without having to answer the question, “are you two dating?” two friends grabbing dinner has turned into the social equivalent of a serious relationship. we’ve entered into a world where it’s impossible to go on a casual date.

if it weren’t for the casual dates that i went on before getting married, there’s no way that nicole would’ve married me.

in my natural state, i’m a self-centered jerk who is rude, crass, and has absolutely no tact. that’s who i am. in fact, that’s who i was when nicole and i went on our first date three years before we actually started dating. in the three years between that first date and when we started dating, i went on dates where i walked away thinking, “yep, i definitely don’t want that in a girlfriend.” there were others where i thought, “there’s no way anyone would ever date me if i’m like that.”

by going to dinner with a girl, i learned how i was supposed to treat my future spouse.

by playing putt putt on a summer night, i learned what i liked and what i didn’t like in my future spouse.

by having real, one-on-one, in person conversations, i learned how to communicate with the opposite sex.

none of these dates turned into dating relationships. they were never physical and most of them helped strengthen the friendships involved. all of them, in one way or another, helped form me into the husband i am today.

don’t spend 2014 sitting around waiting for the perfect guy or perfect girl to come around. go on the offensive. date your friends. find out what you want and what you don’t want. find out what you like about yourself and what you don’t like about yourself and then work to become the spouse that you one day hope to become.

guard your heart, but let people in.

protect yourself, but find out what you like.

take chances, but learn from the mistakes.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.

-jonathan