A couple of weeks ago our student ministry wrapped up a series called "With." We focused on relationships--our relationship first to God, then friendships, and then, of course, dating. Following our discussion on dating, our student minister, Joey Wilson, wisely broke the group up according to gender following a corporate gathering for singing and sermon, with set discussion questions for each group. Joey then asked for dating advice that some of the males might share with one another. Our first and only reply from a teenager was this:
Joey then asked how many of the gentlemen in the room had girlfriends. In a group of about 15 to 20 males, only one hand went up. Go figure.
It appeared to me that there was a wisdom deficit on dating. I tried to loosen the group up by saying, "Don't go to a Mexican food restaurant on the first date," a mistake I've made too many times.
So here are ten practical tips for young dudes to date right.
- Open doors. Car doors, doors to the restaurant or coffee shop, any door you can hold and let your date precede you is a simple act of politeness. Let her go first. This communicates you think your date is important.
- Ask questions. When you make conversation, try your best to keep the focus on her. You didn't take her out so that you could tell her how great you are or how stupid your friends are. You are on this date because you think this person might become a good friend or committed companion. Ask about music, movies, favorite places to hang out, favorite family vacations, favorite childhood memories, worst classes or subjects, best classes or subjects. And if you have trouble coming up with questions, WRITE A FEW OUT BEFORE YOU GO OUT ON THE DATE SO YOU WON'T FREEZE UP AND LOOK AWKWARD. Just don't bring a cheat sheet. Then you'll look awkward anyway.
- Notice something about your date you think is nice. For example, her shoes, her dress, her earings, her necklace, her eyes, her hair, the way she smells. Now is not the time to make comments about certain physical attributes you find attractive. Keep those remarks to yourself.
- Pay. Do not ask a girl out on a date and expect it to be a Dutch treat. Offer to pay. Quit playing video games, find a job, and use some of your hard earned cash to create a memorable experience for a lady who is worth it.
- Plan the evening. When you pick up your date, you shouldn't ask, "So, what do you want to do?" In a phone conversation or via text, you may want to ask, "Do you have a favorite restaurant," or "what do you like to do for fun?" This may give you some clues on how to formulate your plan, but when it is time to go out, you should have something in mind.
- Be selective. There may be a girl right now who is totally in to you. She flirts, she makes conversation with you, she finds ways to spend time with you--but you just don't feel the same way. If this is true, don't ask her out on a date because you feel pressure. Wait for the right girl to come along--someone who meets your standards. You might want to think about these ahead of time. What are you looking for in a woman?
- If this relationship becomes steady or serious, buy her a gift. That is right. Spend some cash on a necklace, a ring, a stuffed animal, a coffee tumbler with pictures of the two of you inside, tickets to a concert or special event, or something you have discovered she likes. Ask a woman you trust (maybe your mom) for some guidance, or even make a phone call to your girl's mom when you know she isn't around, and ask for some help.
- Buy flowers. Cheesy? Maybe it sounds that way. But buying flowers--even a small seasonal bouquet from a grocery store florist--can impress. This simple act means that you are thinking of your lady when she isn't around, and she'll likely keep the flowers at home, as a reminder of you.
- Write notes. Handwritten is great--even if your penmanship is horrible. But text messages, Facebook wall posts, Twitter mentions, emails, etc. can be a nice touch. Notes take time, and you can also express your feelings in writing in a way that transcends the spoken word. Consider your words carefully--remember, whatever you write is a record of that moment.
- Remember important dates. I am not a "dates" person. But I know my anniversary and my wife's birthday are important. If you keep a calendar, make a note of first dates and other "firsts" and remind your girl of those times.
Those are some simple helps. If the dudes in our youth group read these, they might be one step ahead of where they were a few weeks ago.
Or ten steps ahead.