I debated for a long time whether I would share my wisdomous insight (HA) on this particular subject for a couple reasons. Mainly, I'm not exactly qualified to give advice seeing as no relationship I've ever been in has ever progressed to a permanent situation. Also, I'm weary that these things can be very abstract and dependent on specific circumstances/individuals to warrant a broad sweeping analysis. And finally, too close to home.. I finally decided that while I have no qualifying experience and my track record stands at 0 wins, by the grace of god I'm doing okay so maybe I.could.share a few reasons why.
1. Cover yourself completely in bubblewrap on your dates. You think I'm joking?? Hmm.. then you're right ;) What I mean is, hands (and everything else) off. Maybe I'm maniacally puritanistic but I believe physical relationships are so much easier to progress in compared to everything else - and if there is an imbalance in building the spiritual, emotional and physical deals, it's possible to have a false sense of intimacy that will inevitably lead to sad stuffs. If things don't pan out between the two, there's less debris to clean up, less baggage to bring into another friendlationship, and little regret.
2. Guys - don't tell the girl she's the one you want to marry soon after she accepts your interest in going out. This is just asking for super freak out and you're going to scare her away! By all means, think about and pray and stuff because its important that at least one of the two is thinking intentionally and all that. (In fact, its admirable that you do!) Just don't say it out loud just yet. Especially after date 2. Doing so could potentially up the pressure ante for the lady to respond. And if there's anything guys can learn about girls, it's that we're terribly inept at arriving at that place of surety so soon.
3. Now that I've shared how nOT to display your ardent intentions, I'll go ahead and confuse you some more by asking you to be completely focus-minded and precise about the reality of the relationship. It's my belief that if you feel, at 6 months into the relationship, that things are kind of funky, chances are things aRe funky. Take a good look at what's going down, get some trustworthy, unbiased counsel and be prepared to move forward - whatever that might look like.
Disclaimer: Im a self-proclaimed non-commital. And I might run away from things at the slightest hint of uncertainty. That's not good.. But in my defense, I really do think that when gut instincts are coupled with solid counsel and the divine kind of conversations, its okay..
4. Trust god (yadayadayada) not just in your life but in [his] life as well. This dating sort of thing is not easy and oftentimes I complain that getting treated out for dinners and schmoozy outings just isn't worth all the fuss! So when friends tell me just trust god, I roll my cynical eyes and dismiss the prospect of ever meeting Mr. Hotstuff.
But life itself has given me more than enough reason to believe that God intends everything for good, for learning, for growing, for his greatest purpose. The challenging part is believing his same love and mercy for the other person. That if things don't work out - even when I've completely botched the process, it is for God to redeem, not me. To know this is so freeing and so easy to let go of hurt, anger, disappointment, failure, doubt, etc.
At the end of the day, we're all really messed up people despite the best of intentions and more often than not, I speak more for myself here, we're going to make a hot mess out of the whole thing. It seems like everything I desire to honor and glorify god in all I do is super tested when it comes to dating - but the story is that he is still sovereign and faithful.. and gigantically forgiving. If nothing else is worth it, experiencing all of who god is through the process is worth a shot.
So happy dating!