I overheard a lady in our church once ask a hapless single caught in her headlights “if you’re not going to get married why bother dating?” I know where this is coming from, one of the questions that I get quite often is, believe it or not, is when will I know that I’m ready to date? The answer to that question almost has to begin with the answer to a different question: are you ready to get married?

I know, it sounds like I’m going to advocate the “date to mate” school of thought when it comes to dating. I do and I don’t. I fully believe that dating relationships ought to have at least an eye on the potential of that partner as a mate (and as the relationship continues, more than an eye). I also know full well that people can recreationally date. That’s part of what singles groups (and part of what often makes them go bad) are all about.

Sheesh, do you need someone to give you permission to just go out, have fun, killing time with someone of the opposite sex? Go. Do. Keep in mind, however, that, especially as people get older, they don’t have time to waste with the dating game and it becomes unfair to raise someone’s emotional expectations. So I will leave the sport dating to the teens and twenty-something crowd, with the caveat that even they, should they find the relationship going on for awhile, should have a distant eye on the idea of “is this someone I would be willing to commit to and spend the rest of my life with?”

Many of us like to plan, have a direction for everything. It’s our inner control freak nature. Going with that mentality, it’s good to have to have a goal, knowing its accompanying motives and attitudes, and openly communicate as you go along. The goal could be relatively simple like nothing more than just killing time with someone. This can be as simple as two (strictly) friends hanging out. Of course, this is rife with the danger of the unspoken interest. Even if you both start from a platonic place, there is always the possibility of something kindling for at least one of you.

Some folks date to have fun. Let me call this what this is: friends with benefits. Your snuggle buddy. Your strictly casual, no strings attached, kiss without commitment partner. Um, ditto on the dangers of kindling.

Sport dating may go against a goal-oriented mindset because it goes against our nature to just enjoy a moment. A person’s company. Have a spot of fun. Without direction or moving toward a specific destination. As long as both parties are on the same page about it and keep in constant communication about it, the situation should be fine. I’d caution you to be fair to the person you are going out with, and figure out what you want to do before you start and let them know. You’d be surprised how much less complicated life gets with effective communication.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.