Listen: Dr Gary Chapman answers the big questions of dating.
When it comes to dating, it seems everyone’s got a different view on how to go about it.
There are those who approach it as “just a bit of fun” and focus on fun experiences, avoiding serious conversations. While at the other end of the dating scale, there are people who treat it as a job-interview for marriage.
To clear up some of the confusion, Hope 103.2’s Laura and Duncan chatted to relationships writer Dr Gary Chapman, who shared his view on the purpose of dating.
The Purpose of Dating
Before sharing his view on dating, Dr Chapman acknowledged that it’s not a universal kind of relationship.
“We know there are cultures where the parents choose the person you’re going to marry,” he said, “although most of them do give you a veto power on that.”
But given that dating is so common in Western society, it helps to understand its purpose and direction.
“Dating is important” said Dr Chapman. “It’s common our culture. The purpose of dating, as I see it, is to get to know each other.”
Ultimately, he sees it as a relationship in which we can find our partner for life.
Finding Out if We’re Right for Each Other
If you’re currently in the dating season of life, you may be wondering how, then, to go about the relationship.
Dr Chapman, the author of the Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, puts a big emphasis on the importance of communication.
“Conversation is so important,” he said.
His word of advice is to have conversations “where you are challenged to discuss certain aspects of life”.
“It’s in the process of communication that you ultimately make a decision to marry or not to marry.”
Do you both want to have children? If so, when? What are your attitudes to money? Do you both have the same kind of faith or spirituality? If so, what kind of church do you hope to be part of?
Questions about work, career, financial goals and lifestyle are also vital, along with many others.
According to Dr Chapman, “as you discuss these things, you determine whether or not you are on the same page, or how far apart you are in your ideas about certain things”.
“It’s in the process of that kind of communication that you ultimately make a decision to marry or not to marry.”
What if We Break Up?
It’s inevitable that for some, dating will lead to broken hearts, as they discover that they’re not on the same page in their life’s directions and dreams.
But that’s ok, says Dr Chapman.
“We know many dating relationships end up with one [person] breaking up the relationship, and that’s not bad. It just means they have discovered over a period of time that you’re not the person they want to invest their life with.“
While breakups “can hurt and be painful,” says Dr Chapman, “it’s a part of the process of determining the person that God has for you.”