In the wake of the flash-flood of attention that Will Bennett’s “Dating Is Stupid” article received yesterday (8.14.13), Luke Keck has swiftly raised a levee of rebuttal. I’ve known Luke for about 5 years and have had the privilege to see him come into his own as a sharp young thinker. He and I have spent time discussing some of the world’s most debated subjects, so, no matter your position on dating, I know you’ll appreciate Luke’s craftiness with his thoughts. When he’s not reading the dictionary for fun, you can find him cracking up his friends with his quick wit or generally being geeked out on Harry Potter. Luke will be attending the University of Nevada, Reno in the Fall. Comments, questions, and other feedback are all welcome!
Dating Isn’t Dangerous: A View on Relationships from the Non-Christian’s Perspective
*DISCLAIMER* I do not write this out of snark, pride, or contempt. While I am writing this in response to Will Bennett’s “Dating is Stupid”, I am not writing this in order to defame Will’s writing, rather, I am writing to refute some of the flaws I see in his argument. Will is not my opponent, enemy, or rival; however he is, and always will be, one of my best friends, one of my closest confidants, and one of the few people with a brain as horribly abstract and demented as mine.
As I’m sure you saw in the subtitle, I am not a Christian. *Cue gasps, sighs, brow-wrinkling, crinkling, ruffling, and any other brow related activities.* Yes, you read that right, I’m not a Christian. Unfortunately, it seems to have become a cultural norm, especially in the Christian culture of 2013, to ignore the opinion of anyone who doesn’t follow the same belief system as you do. Please, for the love of all that is intelligent, abstain from that mindset. Now I understand that this is mainly a believer read blog, so I won’t be offended if readers of this site react to my writing with disbelief; all I can ask, however, is that you would keep an open mind and listen.
To be perfectly frank, anybody who claims that dating is a non-necessity is spouting nonsense.
For those of you who don’t know me, here’s a bit of background information: I grew up in the church; I was a regular attendee for 16 years; and I had one hell of a passion for God (Ironnnyyyyyy!). Now to bring you up to speed: I no longer attend church; I am not a “believer”; and I’m currently in a relationship. Shameful, I know. Although I’m not a “Christian” anymore, the unfortunate reality is that I still know and study theology more than many churchgoers (especially those of my age group), thus I present to you my qualifications for writing on a blog such as SAINTK.COM.
First of all, let’s define “dating” really quickly. Dating is not “talking”. Talking, which generally includes simple dates and flirtation, generally serves as the precursor to a relationship; there is not true commitment involved. Dating is a whole different animal. And, to be perfectly frank, anybody who claims that dating is a non-necessity is spouting nonsense.
Aside from the obvious points that (healthy) relationships are fun and filled with excitement and provide one with a partner with which to share memories and experiences with, relationships are advantageous in other ways. I’ll try to keep my point short and blunt; dating is of nonpareil importance. Although it might be wonderful to claim “I’m not going to date!” the bottom line is that, in doing so, you will ultimately be unprepared for the time in your life when you are prepared to get married. I stayed single for 17 years; I had never even kissed a girl until my 17th birthday came on the horizon, much less had a girlfriend. I don’t plan on getting married until I’m in my mid 20s, that being said, dating has been the most rewarding, enriching experience of my life.
My first relationship was a disaster, and one of the main reasons for its crash-and-burn ending was the simple fact that I was selfish.
“If there is no point to being in an exclusive relationship with someone of the opposite gender, is it not selfishness then?” (Bennett, Will. ‘Dating is Stupid’). I disagree in the highest capacity; relationships, healthy ones, that is, are give and take situations. Dating gives one the opportunity to learn the ever important qualities of selflessness and sacrifice; unfortunately, most people, outside of dating, fail to learn these qualities. The Christian Church tells believers to live selflessly and follow in Christ’s footsteps; they are encouraged to sacrifice their own personal wants through processes such as Lent and in their general lifestyle, however, the majority of the churched population live just as selfishly as any who follow non-religious world views. Similarly, religions such as Islam and Buddhism mandate their followers to act charitably and kindly, care for widows and the poor (Islam), and live in an enlightened, selfless lifestyle (Buddhism), yet without proper experience, they fail. Those who choose not to follow a particular religious paradigm, myself included, often fall into selfish lifestyles. The reason is simply this: with an intangible god or an unseeable reason for selflessness, one has no guide and, in reality, no true cause to live selflessly past what religion and culture dictate. Despite the guidelines in religious texts, human instinct and the survival-of-the-fittest mentality leads one to act in ways that most benefit him or herself, yet in relationships, if one constantly acts selfishly, his/her relationship will crumble. If one fails to learn the importance of putting an other first, his/her relationship will undoubtedly fail. Thus, through dating and relationships, people (especially teenagers) learn to sacrifice their own needs and wants for the good of an other.
Without dating, I never would have realized the unhealthy qualities in my last relationship, and how to avoid that unhealthiness with my current girlfriend.
I apologize if my statement here seems offensive or far too blunt, but to say that young men and women should refrain from dating until all of one’s affairs are in order (having a steady income, being completely out of debt, being completely prepared for marriage), is foolishness. My first relationship was a disaster, and one of the main reasons for its crash-and-burn ending was the simple fact that I was selfish; I had no idea how to be a boyfriend. While always having the desire to gain maximum personal happiness for myself, I rarely acted in her best interest. Currently, I try to be more caring, sensitive, and selfless in my relationships not only with my girlfriend, but with my friends, family, and co-workers. To use a bit of a cliché, there is no substitute teacher for experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with people dating under the premise of “I feel sad, I need a relationship to fix me up”, because then, when, or, if the relationship ends, the subject in question will find him- or herself in the same spot of mental anguish previous to the relationship. Dating is not a “game”, however, if you treat dating like a game, your relationship will mutate into exactly that. To say that “dating is stupid” is incredibly offensive; it belittles those in relationships and alienates readers who fail to share the same views. Nobody enters a relationship knowing “this is the girl/guy I’m going to marry,” life simply doesn’t work like that. This jaded view of dating as simple “pseudo-relationships” is dangerous. Without any experience as a boyfriend, how can a man know how to be a selfless husband? Without any experience as a wife, how can a woman know how to be a loving wife? Without dating, people lack the ability to realize the difference between healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships, healthy habits and unhealthy habits, foolish ways to act towards your significant other and wise ways to act towards your significant other.
Dating is not “stupid”; it’s one of the smartest things you’ll ever do.
A final note: Relationships are two-way streets. To say that dating is selfish “because you’re asking for their time, their heart, when they could be spending their time with other people, getting to know a variety of people” etc., is a flawed argument. If one asks for another’s “time” and “heart” yet offers nothing in return, that’s not a relationship, that’s selfishness. A relationship is a commitment between two people, give and take. Without dating, I never would have realized the unhealthy qualities in my last relationship, and how to avoid that unhealthiness with my current girlfriend. As humans, people tend to ignore problems and flaws in relationships while they’re ongoing, however, to use yet another cliché, hindsight is 20/20. Dating is not “stupid”; it’s one of the smartest things you’ll ever do.