To Date Or Not To Date

Photo: Instant Vantage, Creative Commons

[Monthly Columnist – Rebekah Snyder] – To Date Or Not To Date – That Is The Question

“I wasn’t allowed to date until I was sixteen,” I explained.

“And how did that make you feel?”

No, this wasn’t a therapy session, though the question may have sounded that way. It was asked by the mother of one of my middle school students whom, I’m assuming, was trying to establish some boundaries for her daughter and wondered how they would play out in her daughter’s mind.

No one had ever asked me that question before.

I never asked it myself.

How did I feel about the no-dating rule.

I’m sure it helped that I was homeschooled and therefore not immersed in the dating culture, but I never struggled with that rule.

It was one my parents had mapped out early on. It was one my mother was raised with. I guess I figured that if Mom survived it and carried it into her parenting, there must have been a good reason for it.

And there was.

Because the “rule” my parents created for me turned out to be more of a gift.

When I was still a young girl who struggled with saying “no,” it relieved me of the pressure.

“No,” was a hard word to force out.

“I’m not allowed,” came so naturally.

Even the guys seemed to like it better when they could translate it as: “It’s not you; it’s my father.”

For the first sixteen years of my life, I was able to fall back on my Dad.

Even though he wasn’t physically there at the moment—even though he maybe never spoke a word to the guy in his life—it was as if every time I admitted I wasn’t allowed to date, my dad was there protecting me.

And isn’t that what every girl wants?

My dad said “no” for me until I learned to say “no” for myself. Once I turned sixteen, all bets were off.

I was free to say “yes.” To be perfectly honest, it kind of terrified me—not having Dad to fall back on.

In fact, I’m glad it was three years before anyone asked me again, and even that was painful.

And somewhere in the midst of this conversation I realized that my parents gave me the gift of formulating my thoughts about dating before I was thrust into the middle of the dating craze.

By the time I outgrew their rule, I had written a few of my own.

While there are no real “rules” to dating, as each relationship is as unique as the two people in it, there are a few guidelines that might save you some heartache. Somewhere from the time that rule kicked in until now, I decided that life would be a lot less painful in the long run if I:

+Don’t say “yes’ because I felt bad saying “no.”

+Don’t date for the sake of dating—because it’s a cultural thing, a social thing, a “normal” thing.

+Don’t date anyone I couldn’t see myself marrying one day.

+Don’t date because I’m tired of the questions, comments, matchmakers and/or slack-jawed middle schoolers who can’t believe I’ve never had a boyfriend even though I’m as old as (GASP!) twenty-one.

Regardless of what our culture implies with its casual dating scene, dating is kind of a big deal.

If you’re going to invest that much of your life in someone, you want it to be the right person.

Singleness is nothing to be ashamed of.

There’s nothing wrong with you if you choose not to date just anyone.

Set a higher standard for yourself than the world would set for you. Learn to say “no” or learn to say “yes.” But mostly, learn to be happy wherever you are in life, because your relationship status does not define you.

That’s something I learned from being single.

Rebekah Snyder is twenty-one years single and loving it. She writes by morning, herds preschoolers by day, and saves her nights for whatever other adventures catch her fancy. For a more extensive list of her dating do’s and don’ts, check out her book Beyond Waiting. You can follow Rebekah online at