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The Art of Dating #5

The Lost Art of Dating

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DATING

The Lost Art of Dating

For most people, there is very little "art" to dating. As our
series of articles continues, we focus on the practical, how-to
aspects of dating.

By Richard Rice


     Has dating become a lost art? From all appearances it would
certainly seem so! The vast majority of people are confused about
the purpose of dating. Many do not even know exactly what a date
is!
     To some, dating is merely a means of finding a mate. Dating
does indeed lay an important foundation toward marriage, but that
is not its sole purpose.
     To others, a date is merely a "one-night stand." Movies and
television shows would have you believe the glitter and glamour
of dating lies in what you can get from the other person. Scenes
of pickups in bars or illicit sex in a motel room give a
distorted and corrupted view of something that should be
wonderful and beautiful.
     What Hollywood does not normally show you, however, are the
adverse consequences of this life-style: Unhappy, unfulfilled
people. Broken hearts and shattered lives. Sexually transmissible
diseases and unwanted pregnancies. All of these are the legacy of
the "swinging singles" scene. 

     But what, then, is proper dating? Although, tragically,
dating has become a lost art, the purposes and benefits of dating
can be regained through the knowledge and understanding of God's
way of life.

Give vs.get

     The Bible simplifies life into two contrasting overall
philosophies: the way of give vs the way of get.
     The way of get is totally self-oriented. In the end, this
way of life is unfulfilling. People caught in the get way always
need more and more to satisfy their wants.
     By contrast, the way of give is the only true path to
happiness and fulfilment. Giving is an outgoing concern that
seeks to serve others rather than the self. Instead of being
caught in the syndrome of "the more you get, the more you want,"
you find fulfilment in giving.
     But what does this have to do with dating? Everything, as a
matter of fact! Dating to give to the other person is truly the
lost art we have been discussing. If both parties do their utmost
to give to the other in the ways we shall now explore, a date
cannot fail to be enriching and successful. "Still," you may ask,
"just exactly how do I go about dating in this manner? What can
we do? What should a date entail?" Before we discuss the
specifics, let's consider some broad, general principles that
apply to dating.

Date to build friendships

     True, meaningful friendships contribute to a happy, abundant
life. One purpose of dating is to help build long-lasting
relationships.
     Friendship grows when we show concern for the feelings and
interests of others. The Bible tells us, "A man who has friends
must himself be friendly" (Proverbs 18:24). So, in your dating,
concentrate on building friendships.
     Listen to what the other person has to say, rather than
consistently dominating the conversation. Go to places the other
person would like to go, rather than always insisting on doing
what you want. Take time to find out the interests, dreams and
goals of the individual you are dating.
     Don't limit yourself. Date a wide variety of people. This
gives you broader experience in dealing with others. Soon you'll
find yourself able to converse with just about anyone. As the
apostle Paul said, we must become "all things to all men" 
(I Corinthians 9:22).
     By all means, avoid becoming too emotionally involved too
soon. Many single people today face loneliness and frustration.
It is all too easy to find false comfort and security in a
premature romance. But getting carried away and letting emotions
run rampant only leads to pain and disappointment in the long
run.
     If you concentrate on dating to build friendships, not
romances, you will build strong bonds of brotherly and sisterly
love that will endure. With a foundation such as this, if a
romance blossoms in its proper time, it will be built on true
love and respect and friendship - not on temporary infatuation.

Understanding the opposite sex

     What makes men "tick"? Why do women act the way they do? Men
and women have unique differences. The way they view life - their
feelings, reactions, altitudes and ways of doing things - are in
some instances almost opposite.
     Some like to see these differences as a "battle between the
sexes." But the plain truth is that men and women continually
misread each other.
     Dating is a means of clearing up these misunderstandings. A
date is the perfect opportunity to discover how the opposite sex
thinks, what makes him or her unique.
     Men often accuse women of being over-emotional and
irrational. Women frequently complain that men are demanding and
insensitive. When we begin to recognize the differences in
emotional makeup, these problems can be defused and overcome.
A true gentleman will respect a woman's feelings. He will seek to
understand her point of view, and he will be sensitive to her
moods and emotions. He will support her in both her ups and her
downs. He will do everything within his power to put her at ease.
He will realize the value of a sincere compliment at the right
time to encourage her.
     Likewise, women should recognize how fragile the male ego
sometimes is. When a gentleman asks a lady out, he is putting
himself on the line - risking rejection and hurt feelings. By
using charm and grace, a lady can promote a man's self-esteem in
a right way, even if she has to turn a date down.
     There is nothing more gracious or endearing than a truly
feminine lady. Likewise, nothing is more inspiring or noble than
a man who has learned how to take the lead as a real gentleman.
Believe it or not, chivalry is really not dead. Although many
current ideologies would have us believe that even courtesy and
good manners are old fashioned, nothing could be further from the
truth.
     Women appreciate men who take the lead in the proper manner.
Not on some macho kick, but truly showing thoughtfulness and
consideration. Pulling out a chair, helping with her coat,
opening the car door - these are but a few of the characteristics
that make a man stand tall in a woman's eyes.
     In the same way, men genuinely admire and appreciate a true
lady - one who will respond and do her best to make the occasion
he has planned for her successful.

     Confidence in relating to others, along with friendliness
and outgoing concern, are vital ingredients in a balanced
personality. Confidence involves poise, self-assurance, ease in
dealing with people and skill in handling different situations.
Dating is one of the most effective means of developing these
positive attributes.
     If you feel ill at ease on a date, don't let this stop you
from trying! The more you date, the more relaxed you will become
in interacting with others. With surprising swiftness,
nervousness will subside and confidence will grow. 
     At times, try dating in groups. People often feel more at
ease in a group than in a one-on-one situation. Conversation is
easier with more people to participate, and much of the anxiety
and tension will disappear.   
     As you have more and more successful dates your confidence
will increase, and you will find yourself becoming a
well-balanced, sociable person.

Two central aspects

     Where you go and what you do on a date will vary depending
on many factors. Weather conditions, activities available and how
much money you have budgeted to spend are some of the
considerations that will dictate what you can do.

     There are two aspects, however, that should be part of every
date you go on. Without these fundamental requirements, it is
impossible to have a successful date.

The art of communication

     Communication is another lost art of this day and age.
People have simply forgotten how to openly converse with each
other.
     Having been hurt by those who are out to get, many have
built protective walls around themselves. These barriers often
become prisons. Some do not allow others to get in. Neither do
they reach out and try to make friends.
     Consequently, even though there are more people alive on
earth today than ever before, psychological defenses have made
many people very lonely and insecure.
     Dating is one of the most effective tools in breaking
through these barriers. This necessitates communication on both
sides. Without meaningful conversation, a date cannot be
successful.
     Communication is not just talking at or to someone. It's
sharing thoughts and ideas. Try to see the other person's point
of view. Don't just voice your own opinions. Some may find it
hard to get a conversation started. There are steps you can take
to overcome this obstacle.

     Before asking for a date, do your homework. Take the time
and effort to find out what the other person's interests are.
Don't be nosy or rude. Simply ask the person a few casual
questions when you talk over the phone, at the office, school,
church or wherever. This will give you ample information to use
with your date.
     Always be broadening your store of knowledge so that you can
converse on a myriad of subjects. Strive to become a good
listener. Draw people out and give them the opportunity and
encouragement to express themselves. To become a good
conversationalist takes time and work, but it is well worth the
effort.
     There is nothing more disarming than a congenial, friendly
person who is not afraid to let others know what he or she is
really like. People can spot insincerity. Therefore, be open
about yourself, and others will be comfortable in opening up to
you.
     One word of caution: Use discretion and tact in your efforts
at communication. To ask probing and personal questions can be
embarrassing and make your date feel uncomfortable, thus ruining
the date. By the same token, divulging your innermost faults or
secret sins is unwise.

In addition to communication, there is another major aspect of
dating. This involves what one can do and places where one can go
on a date. The point is that you should...

Have fun

     The possibilities for having good, clean fun on a date are
endless. The only limitation is your own imagination. Be
creative! Explore the possibilities in your area. Take advantage
of opportunities.
     The responsibility for selecting and planning activities
normally rests on the man. He should not view it as a burden,
however, but as a unique and profitable opportunity to develop
leadership, and have fun at the same time.
     A thoughtful leader will try to plan dates around what the
woman would like to do. On occasion, have two or three ideas in
mind, and ask her which one she would prefer. This allows the man
to do the planning and preparation while giving the woman input.
     It is important to plan well in advance. Spontaneous dates
can be enjoyable, but for many types of dates, it is only common
courtesy to ask a woman several days ahead of time so she can
prepare. Let your date know exactly what you will be doing and
where you will be going so she can plan and dress appropriately.
     As far as what to do, that may vary depending on your
budget, location or other considerations. Following is a list of
some of the many activities you can choose:

     Take advantage of natural beauty in your area. Plan a hike
in the mountains, swimming, sailing, snow or water skiing,
horseback riding or a pleasant walk through a national or city
park. All of these activities are not only fun and uplifting, but
they also provide a scenic backdrop for conversation and getting
to know each other.
     Museums, libraries or recreational facilities are available
almost everywhere. They are often inexpensive and can be
educationally profitable.
     When you can afford it, a dinner at a nice restaurant is
always pleasurable and provides the perfect atmosphere for easy
discussion.
     On occasion, a movie, play or symphony can be delightful. Be
careful not to overdo dates like this, as they tend to leave
little time for conversation. You might wish to go for a walk or
drive afterward so you can talk.
     Sports activities such as volleyball and tennis help keep
you physically fit while enabling you to become acquainted with a
variety of people.
     Inviting a friend to visit the elderly can encourage and
inspire those who are lonely and shut in.  
     Outdoor barbecues, sing-alongs, house-painting parties and
bike rides offer inexpensive social opportunities. The list is
virtually endless.

     Getting to know the opposite sex and enjoying wholesome fun
- that's what dating is all about! Master the art of dating, and
you will also find one of the secrets to a happy, well-adjusted
and meaningful life. 

                             .................

Entered in this Website September 2007


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