Dear Person from a Socially Conservative Upbringing: You Need to Date
“I wish I dated more.”
We were on a camping trip — me, my sister, an older female friend from church and another older male friend from the same church who was driving us all into the great Ontario wilderness (well… ok, fine. Guelph. We were driving to Guelph. But when you’ve grown up in Toronto, everything north of Steeles or east of Kipling is bush.)
At the time my male friend had been married for at least thirty-five years with two children and three grandchildren. His family was thriving and he seemed happy and fulfilled. (He still is married and still seems happy — don’t worry).
But when asked about any regrets in life on that long journey to Guelph (when you are driving in the wilderness you have time to ask questions), he said that he wished he had dated more.
I couldn’t understand it.
If you had married the woman of your dreams, why would it even matter whether or not you had dated more?
At that point, I hadn’t dated — like, at all. I must’ve been in my early twenties. I didn’t see the point in dating. People’s arguments (“dating helps you get to know yourself” *rolls eyes*) were not convincing enough. As someone who had always been described as reflective and mature, I was confident that I knew myself enough outside of dating. And as a Christian (and a Seventh-day Adventist at that) I couldn’t square “worldly” dating with the conservative way in which I was raised — one in which we abstained from sex, alcohol, dancing and the very appearance of evil.
I was also convinced that I would not have to date and that God would arrange my marriage like he helped Eleazar find Rebecca for Isaac. He would bring my Boaz to me and orchestrate my love life without me having to “kiss the bunch of frogs” that my friends said I would.
Don’t get me wrong — this may and does happen for many couples and it works out beautifully.
But having dated for several years now, I now understand the sage advice of my old gentleman friend. Much to my surprise, there is much that the conservatively raised young…