Tyler Smothers

How are people going on dates, just hanging out and doing whatever “talking” really means? It’s Valentine’s Day, and these big ideas are on the minds of OBU students and more.

Does going on a date mean you’re exclusive with that person? Should you go bowling or to a movie? Who should ask out who?

It’s no secret romance and dating are complicated, but they ‘re also essential to society. If healthy family is a goal, healthy friendships and healthy dating are worthy building blocks to get there.

Two students qualified to speak on the subject have some wisdom to share on this important and elusive topic. Senior family and community service major Mackenzie Camp and senior family and community service and political science double major Avery Miller spoke their minds about the subject.

“The idea that casual dating is always stupid and that it leads to bad things, I think is not true,” Camp said. She said this is one of the biggest obstacles for Christians to date in a healthy way.

Camp said, “especially with Christians, they put so much pressure on themselves to make it be serious that it doesn’t give it enough time to organically develop.”

“We have stretched the definition of casual dating too far,” Miller said. “We made casual dating either evil or synonymous with casual [physical relations],” Camp said.

“Whenever we fail to depict what healthy casual relationships can look like, we are also giving up on the idea that men and women can like mindedly build community and advance the kingdom,” Miller said.

Their diagnoses of the major issues of dating faced by Christians was followed by some possible solutions. Their solutions focus on Christians who are dating or looking to date and more specifically on OBU’s campus.

“My improvement plan consists of education about relationships,” Camp said. She said this is very broad, but in general, OBU students would benefit from taking a dating class. “I would also want to have learning about friendship, and what’s different between friendship and a romantic relationship; like, what do you do with a friend that you don’t do with who you’re dating,” Camp said.

“Most people would just say ‘uhhhhh kiss?’” she said. This is an important point for Camp because often, the only differences people can name between friendship and romantic relationships is physical intimacy. Both Camp and Miller argue this definition can improve with a heightened clarity in dating couples.

Just hanging out, talking or “we’ve been on a couple dates, I guess” doesn’t make the cut for what Camp and Miller call clarity, and for both, this is a pillar of healthy dating.

“Decreasing ambiguity’s popularity, but also I think ambiguity within the relationship is bad,” Miller said. “Whenever you go to the Gathering Place with someone and the next day you have seven people asking you about your relationship, I don’t think that’s necessarily healthy, because it heightens the pressure you put on yourself when you’re still trying to understand what that relationship is,” she said.

An example of clarity is if someone says to the person they’re dating, “I’d like to go on a few dates with you to get to know you. Maybe we could get some coffee?” When the parameters are clearly defined at the beginning, expectations are reined in, and instead of running wild at first and then feeling like a failure when it doesn’t work with that person no one is hurt.

Too often, Christians rely on the idea of soul mates to make matches which will “work.” Camp and Miller were both clear that this idea is an unrealistic view of relationships. Miller said, “some good things are also hard,” and Camp said, “a lot of times we just don’t want to work at a relationship, and we always have to work at them.”

This Valentine’s Day is a great time to face the fear of asking someone on a date and embrace clarity, seeing that God uses friendships as well as romantic relationships to further his kingdom and that relationships take hard work, but that’s because they’re good.

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