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Continued from last week

The practice of “going steady” does not develop one’s personality. When done too early, a wonderful opportunity is lost. As explained, having a steady boyfriend or girlfriend puts a person into a comfort zone that restricts the vital ongoing development of personality. Personalities should be vibrant, alive and interesting to the point of fascinating to be around. Pairing off too early is hardly conducive to such vitally important personality development.

You will find that as you date more widely, certain personalities will appeal to you—certain attributes will automatically be more or less attractive to you. You will learn how others view entertainment, clothing, world events, etc. And you will learn, period!

When you date, try to be kind, gentle and considerate. These are personality traits that can always be improved, and dating is a wonderful opportunity to develop these important characteristics.

In the end, dating is a tremendous opportunity to change—to improve—your personality! It is also, at least in part, a character-building activity. And these two aspects of every person are interwoven—your character is invariably reflected in some aspects of your personality, and vice- versa.

Determine to become a better date—the result will be both improved personality and improved character!

Social Graces

Even a cursory glance at most young people today demonstrates how most are sorely lacking in the areas of dignity, propriety, decorum and related areas of conduct. Many are rude, and even outright coarse and crude when it comes to manners and etiquette—and this is true in almost every one of the “social graces.” Everyone can continually improve in this area, and dating others is also a terrific opportunity to learn—and practice—the social graces.

The social graces represent—and reflect—a specific application of God’s law of love. They are based on giving others respect and high regard. The Bible teaches that love “does not behave itself unseemly” (I Cor. 13:5). Try to make it your goal to “esteem others better than yourself” (Phil. 2:3), giving to others, making them feel uplifted and special. In dating, little things mean a lot.

Strive to be a gentlemen or a lady. Like so many other aspects of dating—and life—this takes practice. You can study etiquette by reading books or visiting certain websites. Ignore those who feel you are “lost in the past.” You may have to learn to open doors, help others get seated, assist your date with her coat—and endless other ways to be concerned and attentive to the needs of others. While worldly women may think it chic to occasionally be the one who pays on a date (and some men may be only too happy to allow this), other than an emergency, the well-mannered and trained gentleman or lady would not do this.

Often, the best way to learn is by example—observe older husbands and wives and notice how they react to others. Also observe how they interact with other people. You will find this opens you to a gold mine of proper etiquette and good manners. You will learn how to react and how not to react to others. Go to school on the ways you can improve your social skills.

As you put your heart into dating widely, you will grow in the social graces. It will also help those you are with to be more comfortable in your presence. Work to be an example in an age when so few any longer practice even the basics of proper etiquette (Matt. 5:16).

You now understand the fundamental purposes of dating: Develop your personality, build character, learn from others, grow in the social graces, enjoy fun, experience widely, learn to communicate. As the teenage years pass, dating provides a wonderful opportunity to learn a world of information about the opposite sex. This will greatly enhance your ability to one day become properly acquainted with the person who will go on to be your lifelong partner.

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