The title of this post may have taken you by surprise. Doesn’t everyone date in high school? It’s a given in today’s culture that the first boyfriend on a girl’s roster is obtained before age 18. Some kids start dating in middle school, some even earlier.
Since no two couples are the same, there is a lot of freedom to be had in Christian relationships. As long as a couple is seeking to honor God emotionally, spiritually and physically in their relationship, age and stage of life are secondary issues. Some couples do date in high school and eventually get married. But just as many—more, actually—do not.
As a college counselor, I watched high school couples go through a lot of heartbreak. High school is a bubble in many ways, and the transition into college and career takes an understandable toll on these relationships. As people and priorities change, relationships end. Though this is not always the case, it’s important to keep in mind the extremely transitional season that high school is before jumping into a relationship head first.
Is dating in high school the best decision for you? Before you decide, ask yourself the following questions.
1. What’s my motive?
Every decision we make as Christian women calls us to question our motives. When you’re deciding whether to put on your bikini, whether to attend a yoga class or whether to date in high school, your first question should not be “How does this make me feel?” but “Will I honor God in this decision? What does He say about this?” If you’re thinking about dating in high school—or you’ve been asked out by a guy and you’re deciding whether to say yes or no—take the time to pray about your motives.
Sometimes our motives are pure: You like the guy, he likes you and you want to see where the relationship is headed. But in some instances, our motives are based on passing desires rather than on God’s wisdom. If you’re dating because “everyone else is,” because you’re pressured by your peers or to become more popular, the relationship is already headed in the wrong direction. God looks at the motives of our hearts; that’s what He cares about. Rather than start a relationship on the wrong foot, trust God’s wisdom and wait for better.
2. What’s my plan?
Do you have a general direction for your life? Think about your dreams, goals and plans. Think about what major you’d like to study in college or what trade you want to learn after graduation. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of doing missions. Getting into a relationship before you’ve had to chance to cultivate these dreams can limit your desire to achieve them.
It’s wise to have a plan before committing to a high school relationship. If you plan to get married, take into consideration how long you will have to date before that is possible. If you both intend to go to college, that could be anywhere from seven to eight years. It could involve long distance. It will require communication and conflict resolution. You might not attend the same college or share the same dreams. You must also be highly vigilant to maintain your purity, which gets more difficult the longer you date. Have a plan before committing—and plan ahead for the temptations and difficulties that go along with dating young.
3. What’s my boundary?
If you’ve decided that dating in high school is for you, it’s time to set clear boundaries. It doesn’t matter what the guys and girls around you are doing. It doesn’t matter what your boyfriend says is “okay.” You are a woman after God’s heart, created by the very hand of Christ. You have incredible value, and that value should not be thrown away simply to feel desirable to a boy. Don’t ask, “How far is too far?” but “How holy can I be in this relationship?” Draw a line and stand behind it. God blesses those who walk in holiness—“the pure in heart will see God.” (Matthew 5:16)
Personally, I chose not to date in high school, and I’m so glad I did! I made a lot of great guy friends who are still part of my life. I was free to make plans objectively and had less pressure on my life as I pursued my college and career dreams. By the time I met my husband at 21 years old, I was confident in myself and knew exactly what I was looking for.
There are many couples who don’t have a story like mine. If you’re able to honor God in your relationship, and uphold purity as a couple, He can make something beautiful out of your love story, too. What matters most are the motives of your heart—a heart set on honoring God.