Post it note on a cork board with the words "I'm Single" written on it.For students (and anyone who is single for that matter), the question of dating is a common one. When can I/should I start dating? What is the purpose of dating? Is there a situation where I shouldn’t date someone? With this in mind, here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before deciding to date someone:

#1 – Am I ready?

The first question you should ask is, “Am I even ready to get married yet?” If you’re not ready for marriage, you honestly have no business dating. Here is why: dating for any other reason than finding your spouse is a foolish thing because it will only end in heartbreak. Sure, we all know of that one couple who is friends with our friend’s cousin that started dating when they were 14 and got married when they were 20. We look at them and say, “They did it. Why can’t I?” They are the exception, not the rule.

They are not the norm and you likely will not have the same experience. Additionally, I would be willing to bet that they experienced a lot of pain and hardship as a result of dating so young that they would have avoided had they waited and just been friends until they were ready to pursue marriage.

Long story short: if you aren’t ready to get married, don’t spend time focussing on a relationship because there are other things at this stage in you life that should take priority (Jesus, school, family, etc.).

#2 – How Might This Affect My Walk?

Another question you should ask is, “Will this relationship bring me closer to Jesus?” If you have a rocky relationship with Jesus in which he is not your highest priority and affection, dating someone will probably just make it worse.

Here is why: If Jesus is not my highest priority and affection, that means something else is. This means that I have a tendency to put things before God in my life (which is called idolatry). If this is the case, then you can bet that I will place the person I am dating before Jesus which will ultimately result in doing things that dishonor Jesus in order to keep the relationship with that person.

This is a tragedy beyond words so if it could have a negative affect on your walk with Jesus, you are not ready to date.

#3 – Do I have the time/energy required?

Let’s be honest: relationships are hard and they take a lot of time and energy. If you are thinking about dating, ask yourself, “Do I have the time and energy to give right now?” I know of people who’s lives are scheduled and over-booked to the point that they hardly have time to eat. There is no room in that schedule for a significant other. You will inevitably neglect either your relationship or your responsibilities; neither is okay.

Don’t give yourself to anything or anyone if you don’t have the time for it/them; it isn’t fair to them or you and it isn’t a healthy standard to set for yourself.

#4 – Is the person I am pursuing a believer?

This is just as important as any of these other questions so don’t take the fact that it is #4 to mean it isn’t as important. Paul says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) and elsewhere, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

If they are not pursuing Jesus, you shouldn’t be dating them. If they don’t share you convictions and beliefs, you will inevitably come to a crossroads where you will have to decide, “Should I do what honors God or what my boyfriend/girlfriend wants?” This will not end well as it more often then not ends in the believer compromising their beliefs for the sake of their relationship (making their relationship their god… which is idolatry).

Also, don’t missionary date (dating an unbeliever and hoping they will someday come to know Jesus). If they are not a believer, what makes you think dating them will make them one? You can take this to the bank: Missionary dating leads to miserable divorce. The answer to this question must, must, must be, “yes,” or you are in trouble.

#5 – What are my motives?

Dating should be done for the purpose of finding, getting to know, and ultimately marrying your future spouse. Therefore, you need to be sure that your motives are right before moving forward. If any of these are your reasons for wanting to date, you should not date yet:

I want a significant other because:

 

I need to feel loved – God loves you so much that he died for you (John 3:16). Therefore, you are already loved more than anyone on earth could ever love you. However, when we don’t believe this truth, we settle for cheap imitations that society calls “love” but are really the furthest thing from it. If you seek to feel loved by a person without first understanding the love that God has for you, you will be in danger of doing sinful things in the name of love. (And let me make this very, very clear, ladies: if a guy tells you that he loves you but tells you to do things with him that you know don’t honor God, he does not love you. He loves himself. Dump him).

I need to feel valuable – You need to know your own value apart from other people. Don’t ever let another person be what defines your value. You are valued by God more than any other creature on earth (Matt. 6:26). Until you can believe that and be satisfied in it, no person will ever make you feel the value that you are seeking.

I need to fit in – Doing anything because others do it is a bad idea all around. But with dating, it is even more destructive because you are ultimately using that person to gain popularity with others. When you are in a relationship with someone, you should be seeking to protect them from being hurt, not setting them up for it.

He/She is hot - Seriously…? This has disaster written all over it. Marriage is about love, not lust. If this is your reason for wanting to date, don’t… just don’t.

 

God made marriage as a wonderful thing, but as Solomon writes, “Do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Solomon 8:4). There is a time to begin to pursue a relationship with someone, but if any of these are true: you are not ready for marriage, it won’t grow you closer to Jesus, you don’t have the time/energy, they are not a believer, or your motives aren’t right… Do not awaken love yet. Wait and pursue Jesus and he will make it clear when the time is right.