The Process of Dating

Okay, so this time I’m going to attempt to combine two articles in one discussion because they are so similar.  The first one is about navigating the early stages of a relationship. The second is about growing more intimate.

So let’s begin.  As usual, Croft insists that the man be the one to initiate due to his complimentarian views.  The intention of the stage is to figure out whether or not you should get to know each other in order to determine whether or not you should get married.  The idea of the second stage is to figure out whether or not you should get married, which is pretty much determining if there are any obstacles to marriage.

In both pieces, Croft discusses both how couples should spend time together and what they should talk about as well as what kind of emotional intimacy should be involved.  In the early stages, he suggests mostly spending time in groups, spending time alone only in public spaces, and absolutely no spending time alone in each other’s places of residence.  He also suggests not seeing each other four or five times a week and not spending all the time not seeing each other talking on the phone or e-mailing each other.  Normally, at this point I would be jumping down his throat and shouting “You’re crazy, Croft!” but, when one looks at the types of things he limits couples in an early relationship to talk about, it begins to make sense.

Croft believes that at the early stages, talks should be more general and less intimate.  The person should not be made your confidante in personal and emotional matters.  Again, normally I’d be all over that sort of thing, saying that it is very important for couples to talk about their thoughts and feelings.  However all of my reasoning on that sort of thing would be built around disagreements I’ve already had with him earlier and I don’t feel like rehashing things too much.  Remember, he thinks that couples should start going out without too much of a prior relationship, if any.  So in that case, it makes some sense that you wouldn’t want to immediately tell someone you barely know, for example, how emotionally secure/insecure you are around situation X.

All of this leads to his belief that there should not be much emotional intimacy at the early stages of a relationship.  Given his previous premises in past articles for this series (and you may read all about how I felt about them) this makes sense.  So I don’t have much new to fight (lucky you!).

The second article is basically the same.  At the deeper stages, the couple is allowed to spend more time alone, but still not in one another’s apartments because there is too great a temptation to become “impure” (see What, No Kissing? for more information about how I feel about that argument).  It is also okay to talk about more personal emotional stuff, although Croft urges caution here.  Once again, he urges people not to become too emotionally intimate.

There are two things I want to point out and both are in the second article.  The first is that the woman is the one who is supposed to have her goals be flexible so that she can submit to her future husband.  Once again, we see patriarchy in Evangelicalism.  The woman is expected to submit her life goals to her husband and not the other way around.  This has been part of my problem with Croft’s entire series.  Now there are some more overt forms of patriarchy in other organizations, but I think that we need to look out for the more subtle forms.

The second, I’m not necessarily angry enough but it I find it very…er…interesting.  I’ll just quote it here:

Also, do clearly discuss limits on your physical involvement (in other words, reiterate that there will not be one), and put methods of adhering to those limits in place. That said, don’t make physical involvement — even a lack thereof — a frequent topic of conversation. That in and of itself can become a temptation — and the more you go over it and over it in your mind, the stronger the desire becomes and the less egregious the sin becomes (in your own mind, that is).

Kind of ironic that Evangelicals tend to make sexual ethics an important topic of social and political discussion with this in mind isn’t it?

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.