One of the biggest issues in the Christian community is the idea of "dating." Is it right? Is it wrong? Is there a specific age when people should start dating?
Regardless on whether or not you believe that dating is a constructive form of finding a spouse, I believe that you must be ready for a relationships before you rush into one. Here are a few "musts" that singles need to look out for in their lives and the lives of the ones they are interested in dating.
1. You've taken responsibility for your life
You aren't blaming anyone else for your problems and you aren't relying on anyone else for your successes. You have accepted responsibility for the direction of your life and the rate of your personal growth. You're not a child anymore. You have grown up and are ready to be your own person.
2. You know who you are
Everyone has insecurities, but you have given yourself enough time to work through your identity issues with the Lord and are confident in who He says you are. This probably looked like a substantial season of singleness that allowed you to discover yourself and your identity as a son or daughter of God. You are not going into a relationship with a 50-50 mindset... you are ready to offer yourself as a whole person, 100%.
3. You've fully committed to God and His plan for you
You've made up your mind and there's no turning back. Your number one priority is your relationship with the Lord and the consistent development of that relationship. You aren't living life on the fence - one foot in the world and the other foot in the Kingdom. You are solid and sure in your commitment to Christ and are dedicated to following His plans, purposes and commands for your life.
4. You have a job OR you are pursuing an education FOR a job
You're not a moocher or a slacker. You don't rely on mommy and daddy to pay your bills. You have some sort of income or you are pursuing an education so that you can have a job that will provide for you and someone else. You don't expect someone else to take care of you. You see relationships as a partnership and are ready to come offering something, not just looking to receive something. You have taken responsibility for your financial future and make wise choices on how to spend your money.
5. You have learned to manage your sexuality
You have decided that God's Word is the ultimate authority for your life and His design for sex is the ultimate pleasure. It's not about perfection, it is about transparency and obedience. You have managed your sex drive and have surrounded yourself with peers and leaders who know what's going on in your life and relationships. You will not allow your sex drive to drive your relationship into guilt and shame, you have a plan for purity and passion.
6. You have healthy friendships
You are not a lone-ranger. You know that it is unhealthy to live life by yourself. You have a community of people around you that you do life with. These people are not fathers or mothers, daughters or sons - they are peers with whom you can relate to and enjoy time with. You have allowed these friends to speak into your life and you can do the same for them. You are not just looking for a relationship to fill the void of community in your life because you don't have friends.
7. You have standards
Not just any person can walk into your life and claim that special spot. You have standards. Not unrealistic ones... not just physical standards, but emotional and spiritual standards. You realize that you are worth a great deal and need not to settle for someone just because they want to have a place in your heart. You know what you are looking for and what are non-negotiables, yet you are open to what God allows to be placed in your path.
8. You are submitted to some form of covering
You realize that to have authority you must be under authority. You offer a relational partner covering and leadership because you have people in your life that you are submitted to. You know that it is important to be covered and protected so you submit your life to those you can trust to lead you and your future relationship well. This is how you practice transparency.
9. You have a plan for your future
You know that no one wants to date a bum. You have a plan for your life and refuse to just sit around and wait for someone to complete that plan. You're not a half waiting for your other half - as long as you are single, you are exactly where God wants you to be and His plans and purposes for you are great. You have goals and dreams that are personal and are yours... but you are also willing to be flexible as God brings people into your life.
10. You are ready to sacrifice
You are convinced that relationships are not just about you getting something, but about you giving as well. You love as you would want to be loved. You are not looking for someone to serve you and give you all that you want and need, you are looking to partner with someone in laying down your lives for one another. You know that ultimate pleasure is sacrificing for someone as they are willing to do the same for you.
11. You are prepared for the outcome
You don't have unrealistic expectations for dating relationships. You are ready for the consequences. You are prepared for it to fail and have guarded your heart so that it will not be broken beyond repair. You are also prepared for it to succeed and you have a plan to follow through with it if things go well. Either way, you have thought about the future and are ready for whatever God allows to happen.