When I was in my late teens, there was a very popular Christian courtship book titled I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. This book espoused the values of forgoing traditional dating methods and opting instead for a life devoted to Christ and Christian living. I Kissed Dating Goodbye talked about the dangers of focusing too much energy into dating and ultimately devoting significant amounts of time to potential boyfriends or girlfriends without the hope or promise of courtship, engagement, or marriage. The book advocated for young Christians to instead focus their lives on being active members of their church or community. If and when a worthy candidate appeared on the scene, the book gave a very detailed plan for how to engage in the act of courting. I Kissed Dating Goodbye defined courting as non-sexual Christian dating that was focused on one goal—marriage. If your courting efforts are not leading towards marriage, then you should end the relationship immediately.
I treated I Kissed Dating Goodbye as a second Bible. I threw myself headfirst into being an upstanding young Christian woman who was always very active at my church and in numerous community service projects. I was going to “do the right thing” and focus solely on men who also wanted to be married and begin families. As you can imagine, creating a dating life with marriage as the goal line is probably the most stressful and anxiety-ridden thing I could have done to myself. And I had no idea that I was STILL conducting my dating life from this vantage point until the end of my last relationship.
Indeed, I was attracting men into m world who wanted to be married to me and have families, but we never dated or got to know each other well enough for that be an AUTHENTIC conversation for creating the rest of our lives together. I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ EVERY DAY that there are angels that protect babies and open-hearted fools named Leah Lynette Lakins. Had I married any of the men who wanted to me to be their wives, my life would have been disastrous. I have NO DOUBT about that.
By having such a laser focus on marriage, I was missing out on HUGE, BASIC details in the dating arena. And not only was I skipping over basic details, but I never established firm requirements for what these men needed to do to make me happy. I never required any of these men to indulge in my love of Broadway, live jazz, book signings, good food, and walking around New York.
As I’ve embarked on a healing journey since the completion of my last relationship, I realized that I kissed dating goodbye before I ever had a chance to say “Hello!” to it! I never indulged in just dating for dating sake. I recognized that I was putting men into a husband-and-family express lane without first testing them out to see if I enjoyed their company or if we even shared common interests.
So, I’ve now resolved to say “Hello, Dating! Welcome to my world!” I’m now committing to simply enjoying men of my choosing without the expectation of wedding bells and babies. I can have a quality date without the pressure of a man having to be “The One.” I’m now giving myself permission to have grown-up, responsible, and authentic fun.
Yes, I still do want to be married and become a mother—but I’m OK with that not being such an urgent, overarching desire in my life for now. I truly believe that relaxing and giving my heart the space to just BE with men WITHOUT AN AGENDA will eventually get me closer to the kind of relationships that I truly desire.
I look forward to what a pressure-free, open, and lighter dating approach will bring into my world. It’s a new journey that I’m excited, somewhat un-nerved, and eager to embark upon. Keeping my heart open to the adventure of dating has been exhilarating, scary, and, at times, heartbreaking. But I know that learning my lessons in love and becoming stronger with each experience will ultimately allow me to attract just the right man for a future happy ever after.