At The Porch we talk a lot about community, and we also talk a lot about dating. One big reason we talk about being in community is because it’s the best way to get wise counsel, avoid mistakes, and make smart decisions. And we talk about dating because it’s one of the biggest decisions young adults make, and it’s where a lot of unwise choices and mistakes are made.
So, obviously, it makes sense to be in community before dating someone, and lean on that community to help you make good dating decisions. It’s what we mean when we talk about “dating in community.” But what does that look like? How do you “date in community”? Does it mean you only go on group dates? That you let your community group decide who you should date? Is there some kind of interview process where your community group grills a prospective suitor to see if they are worthy of the job?
To help clarify, here are some details on what we mean by “dating in community,” and how your community group friends can be a big help to you as you navigate your way through a dating relationship.
Before You Date
Before you ask anyone out, or agree to start a dating relationship, your community group should help you decide if that’s a good idea. Here are some things you should process together:
- Are you healthy and mature enough to date? Are there hurts, habits, or hang-ups that you need to heal from first? Dating (and marriage) won’t cure your problems; it will just put a magnifying glass on them.
- What is your intention in dating? Is it to find and pursue someone towards marriage, or is it to just have a good time for the weekend? If it’s the latter, a biblically-based community should try to help you see why that might not be a good idea.
- What type of person are you looking to ask out or be asked out by? Does this line up with who God tells you to look for?
Your community should agree that you are healthy enough to date, have the right intentions in dating, and are looking for the right type of person. If not, press pause on dating until you can agree that you’re fully lining up with God’s Word on these things.
Getting (and Going on) Dates
Your community group can help you get dates, and can also help make dating more fun, safe, and successful.
- Introductions: your community knows you, and they also know other people. Chances are, some of those people might be great for you to date! Ask your community to help you meet others who they think would be a good fit for you.
- Decisions: when you’re planning to ask someone out, run it by your community group to get their counsel. Or, if you’ve been asked out and are considering taking the relationship from “just a date” to “dating,” see if your community agrees it’s a good idea. Keep getting their input as you continue progressing in the relationship.
- Learn from their mistakes and successes. What have they done in dating that you should avoid? What have they done in dating that you should try to imitate (Proverbs 22:3)?
- Dating together: don’t only go on one-on-one dates; at least part of the time, take someone from your community group along for a fun double date. Better yet, get both of your community groups together. The more eyes on the relationship, the better (Proverbs 15:22).
Growing the Relationship
As you spend time dating someone, whether it’s date #1 or date #100, your community group can provide perspective from God’s Word (most important), as well as advice from any experience they have (less important, but still helpful). Here are some things to talk about in growing your relationship:
- Set healthy boundaries for physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy. Ask your community group to keep you accountable to those standards.
- Ask for their feedback on what you are doing well, and what areas they think you could grow in. One helpful piece of framework is keep-start-stop: what should you keep doing, start doing, or stop doing? Be brave enough to ask your date’s community group what they think too.
- Talk through any expectations, fears, or insecurities that may be holding you back. Don’t let these derail what could otherwise be a great relationship.
Proverbs 11:14 says that where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory. Whether it’s ending an unhealthy relationship, maintaining a healthy one, or taking a great one to the altar, your community group can help you experience victory in dating.