What is the purpose of dating?

Surely a blook on the topic of dating would have addressed this most fundamental  question prior to the third chapter, right?

Wrong.

The reason? Because everyone already knows the answer. If there is anything that men and women who are in dating relationships everywhere agree upon it is the answer to this one question. Religious preference makes no difference. Neither does one’s previous dating experience (or lack thereof). Both genders would even agree on the answer to this question! Everyone’s answer is still the same:

“To get to the next level.”

See? You knew the answer didn’t you? Even the most pious among us seeks the same thing that the horny collegiate freshman boy does.

(Don’t look down upon the horny freshman too quickly, by the way.)

Regardless of one’s perspective, experience, or belief, men and women are seeking one another because they want to have intimacy. In fact, we all have an insatiable desire for intimacy. We simply cannot get enough of it.

It’s almost like we are all hard-wired for intimacy.

So, what happens when a man and a woman who both have an insatiable desire for intimacy have just agreed that they are both interested in taking their relationship to the next level?

Anything could happen. Anything.

Thus, this second part of the DTR is just as important as the first part of the conversation we illustrated in chapter 3.2. Instead of assuming that the man understands and agrees with the woman’s idea of what the next level of intimacy should be (and vice versa), the man ought to take the time to explain what his idea of the next healthy step towards intimacy looks like. The woman, then, will have the chance to respond with whether or not they are on the same page.

I believe there are four areas of intimacy in every relationship. The second half of the DTR (which was a next-level step of intimacy in and of itself) should cover at least these four areas. Some couples may choose to take one step forward in all four. Others may choose to take two steps forward in just one. Whatever the case, both man and woman need to be honest about what they feel comfortable with in each of the four areas. If such a conversation doesn’t happen, then Sue may agree to being Bob’s girlfriend only to find out that he’s ready to move into her apartment when she thought they were just going to go to formal together.

Physical Intimacy:  Up until this point the couple should not have really touched each other all that much. After the DTR, however, the couple is free to take some steps closer together in their physical relationship. They are also free to refrain from taking any steps at all. Since these steps are likely the most familiar to us, I will not waste time discussing them here.  (However, I do hope to address some guidelines for physical intimacy in a forthcoming appendix.)

Emotional Intimacy: This is an area of intimacy that many couples don’t realize they are engaging in. It is a tricky area of intimacy because it can happen without the physical presence of the other person. It can be kindled by the simplest of things and it works differently for each person.

Emotional intimacy typically involves not simply the knowledge we receive about our partner, but more so the knowledge we divulge about ourselves. The more private the information we disclose, the more intimate the exchange becomes. This can happen in a deep conversation, but it can also happen just as easily when one meet’s the family of the other. Any time a person takes a step closer to knowing us more deeply than most people do it is a powerful form of emotional intimacy.

A quick example: Bob may have dated several girls in his past and had no problem bringing them home to meet his family. Sue, on the other hand, has not dated much at all and has certainly never been brought home to meet the folks! What might seem like a normal thing to do for Bob could actually be a very intimate thing for Sue. It could be so intimate for her that she finds herself waiting for Bob to propose at any moment as a result. And why not? No other boy has ever done that for her. He must be the one!

Social Intimacy: Allowing a relationship to become ‘public’ is another form of intimacy. Whether the relationship becomes public by being seen “together” amongst a group of friends or via a Facebook relationship status – it’s an exchange that two people are having only with each other and now other people know about it. The same idea is true with titles. “Boyfriend” and “Girlfriend” are exclusive titles that some men and women choose to use to describe their relationship with one another. Since they do not describe their relationship with any other human being that way it creates an intimate bond between the two.

Spiritual Intimacy: This particular area doesn’t seem like one where intimacy could be created, but it can be just as powerful as the other three – especially when the couple agrees in their views about God, faith, and the ultimate answers to the questions of life. No matter what religion a man and a woman practice, praying together can be a very intimate exchange. Attending a worship service together as a couple can also be a very intimate event in the life of a relationship. Bob needs to consider that taking his ‘girlfriend’ to church with him as his ‘girlfriend’ is both a socially and spiritually intimate step. If he hasn’t discussed that step with his girlfriend prior to doing so – it may create some feelings that he never intended to kindle.

Intimacy is like fire. It is beautiful and enjoyable, but also must also be respected and handled with the utmost care. Each of these forms of intimacy are powerful forces that draw men and women closer together. Combine these forms of intimacy and they become even more potent. Intimacy has the power to beautifully bring a man and a woman together for the rest of their lives and it also has just as much power to burn and scar each person forever. How can we control it? Some say that you should never be intimate until you’re married. Others say that you’re gonna get burned anyway, so why not have a little fun? Neither are good options. The first step for a man and a woman in rightly stewarding their longings for intimacy with one another is to make sure they are on the same page in these areas each time they have a DTR.

Each time?

Yes, there should be more than one DTR. How many there should be and how often will be the subject of the next post.

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What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

Are there other forms of intimacy that you can think of?