In Practical Christianity class at Ambassador Bible Center we have had this discussion. We came to the conclusion that the terminology has changed through the years.
What used to be called "dating" is now considered a part of "hanging out." At the present time "dating" refers to what we used to term serious dating or "going steady." Whatever term is used, the Proverbs reveal that "there are three things which are too wonderful for me, yes, four which I do not understand: ...the way of a man with a virgin" (Proverbs 30:18-19). Something almost magical seems to take place when that special connection is made between a man and a woman that leads to them liking each other. They want to spend time with each other. They put on rose-colored glasses and see each other in a fantasized manner. Something actually occurs in the brain that helps them gloss over any flaws and elevates the strengths of the beloved.
To make sure you are not overwhelmed when in love, it is good to force yourself to stop and think. What is needed for a relationship to continue to develop? Here are several things to consider when going from "hanging out" to dating.
Does the person you are interested in have these characteristics:
• Adaptability—Is he or she able to accept changes in schedule and circumstances?
• Empathy—Does he or she feel for others; read your moods; relate?
• Problem-solving—Does he or she seek resolution instead of sweeping problems "under the rug"?
• Is he or she able to give and receive love?
• Emotional stability—Is he or she usually even in moods rather than having wide mood swings?
• Similarity in family background—Are your family values and family rituals similar?
• Similarity in interests—Are you able to relate in leisure time?
• Good communications—Are you able to talk to each other about any and everything?
• Spiritual soundness—Does the person maintain a deep love for God and His way?
Marriage and family counselors consider these characteristics essential for having successful relationships. So, when moving from the "hanging out" stage to serious dating, please keep your eyes open and your mind active to note if that special person has the characteristics that will contribute to a happy, successful, lasting relationship.
May God bless you in your quest to find the loving person for you (Proverbs 18:22).