Dating Pointers

“Talking”, “DTR” (defining the relationship), or “Cuffing “(commitment) are some of the terms Gen Z use to describe the growth of a romantic relationship. Yet, where does dating fit into all of this? Every generation experiences different trends with dating. It seems Gen Z youth are more cautious; not wanting to send messages of being committed too soon, maybe because social media has put relationships under the microscope. No matter what the generational view of dating is, it has some real advantages.

If you’re considering dating, here are some things to keep in mind:

Starting out with a group date is a safe bet. For one, group dates allow you to get to know the person while doing something fun with others around, providing safety in numbers. Not rushing to spend a lot of time alone is a healthy way to pace a relationship as a lot of time alone can speed up intimacy. Interacting in different situations and with different groups of people opens a greater understanding of the person. In a less controlled environment, their true colors may shine through whether good or bad. Do they change their personality from one group to another, or are they consistent no matter what group they’re with? Are they easy-going, or do they get stressed out easily? Do they have a sense of humor, or are they more serious? What is their communication style?

Avoid instant messaging. Online interactions may not provide all the information about the person or a shallow depth of knowledge of who they really are. They may only show their best side and easily hide their quirks. Unfortunately, it’s clear people can exaggerate their online persona. Also, emotions can’t fully be expressed in a text and may lead to misunderstandings. So be determined to spend more time in person or talking on the phone than instant messaging. Save important conversations for in person time. Ask yourself: Are they really who they appear online? Can you really see if their actions line up with their words online? Am I missing the bigger picture of what they’re communicating?

Limit situations where you will be completely alone and could be tempted to lower your physical boundaries. Be aware of the amount of time you spend one on one until you are in a more committed relationship like marriage. Pre-think your physical boundaries, and never allow someone to pressure you to lower your boundaries. If the person doesn’t respect your line, it’s a red flag that the relationship isn’t healthy. Hold the line of respect firm, and never lower it because you are worth waiting for. Ask yourself what are the safe places we can go where there will be other people around?

Pre-think your physical boundaries (anywhere from holding hands, to cuddling, to kissing or more intimate forms of physical contact). The key to staying abstinent* is to stop physical intimacy before arousal starts, and your engine starts going too fast, because at that point it’s much more difficult to stop! It’s too easy to blur the line when you are in the situation, so draw the line now and communicate it to your partner so it’s clear. Ask yourself where in the physical progression does my engine start going to fast? Draw the line before that.

Think of fun, creative dates that don’t cost a lot of money. Make a list of fun things you can do that aren’t too expensive but also you can do in public spaces. Whatever you do, avoid the less interactive activities, and focus on ideas that will spark communication and understanding of what the other person likes, dislikes, and reveals their personality. Ask yourself, what things do I enjoy doing? What hobbies do I want to try? What are cheap things to do in my community?

Take your time getting to know someone, so you don’t let infatuation take over. Behind those strong feelings of attraction are neurotransmitters being released in your brain in greater amounts in the beginning stages of a relationship. Some of the ones scientists have studied are Dopamine, Oxytocin, PEA and Norepinephrine which can cause you to feel good, bonded and excited. Dopamine is seen as a reward for your brain and can cause you to feel like you can’t get enough of the person. Oxytocin can make you feel so bonded to that person that you may feel as if you’ve known them your whole life, even if you haven’t known them for very long. PEA and Norepinephrine can make you feel awake and alive every time you see that person. Scientists say your brain chemicals take 3-6-9 months to come back to normal levels, so don’t misinterpret the feelings of love too soon. To err on the side of caution, wait the 9 months to let your chemical levels return to normal levels before jumping into commitment or physical intimacy too soon. Ask yourself if you are letting your feelings take over your ability to see clearly?
It’s clear that dating is a necessity to get to know someone fully. Dating doesn’t have to mean full commitment, and couples should be able to spend that time together with others in person while pacing their intimacy. Take it slow, talk it out, and have fun interacting with each other!

*Abstinence is choosing to reserve sexual activity until you are in a committed, life-long relationship like marriage. It not only protects you physically from STDs and pregnancy, but also emotionally, socially, financially, intellectually, and spiritually. Your whole health is important and worth protecting!

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