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When are you ready to date or have a girlfriend?  Dating requires a level of maturity and sacrifice that develops over time. Just because you are attracted to someone or like their attention is not a strong foundation on which to begin a relationship.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Date for the right reasons. Don’t do it to be cool or because other people are. Don’t be pressured into dating because of expectations, including from your parents. A lot of guys don’t date much or at all in high school, and that’s fine. Often, guys who begin dating at a later age have better experiences with girls and girlfriends and healthier relationships because they have developed more maturity and self-assurance than they had at a younger age.

2. Show extra-good manners around girls.  Show signs of courtesy as a young man. Holding the door for her and walking her to her car at night are thoughtful things to do.

3. Speak respectfully of all girls.  If you develop a reputation for treating any girl poorly or saying inappropriate things about even one girl, we can almost assure you that many girls will hear about it. And this may hurt your chances of many girls wanting to be your friend or date you. The reputation you have among girls is important.

4. Keep things in perspective. Before entering a relationship, take the time to write out or think about the characteristics you’d like your wife to have. Look beyond right now; consider yourself in 10 or 15 years. What do you see your life looking like then? What will be your priorities then? This will really help you when pursuing relationships. It’s good to have friend relationships with girls outside of a dating relationship. That’s more time for you to learn about girls and what your preferences are without being in relationship.

5. Take the initiative and lead in the relationship. God charges men to take the initiative, and girls usually like that. Call them to talk or ask them out (Ask them out well in advance of the date night).  Suggest the plans for what you will do on the date.  Of course, make plans according to what you think she will like and be willing to change your plans, but take the responsibility to come up with the ideas.

6. Take the lead. Establishing boundaries, determining intensity and pace of your relationship and talking about your relationship are your responsibilities. That’s your role, and don’t neglect to do it, even if the girl is being more assertive and aggressive in pushing the relationship.

7. Plan creative dates. Girls like it when they know you spent time thinking about them, and a creative date shows a lot of care.  Girls especially like it when there are good opportunities for casual conversations on a date.

8. Go slowly with your relationship. Good relationships are marathons, not sprints, and many relationships start out too quickly and intensely to last. You can’t run a marathon at full speed. In the early stages of the relationship, resist the urge to talk every single day, to see each other at every opportunity, and to kiss and say “I love you” too soon.  Your relationships will be much more likely to thrive and survive.

9. Remember your other friends. When you’re in a relationship, it is easy to get tied up with the other person. All other relationships begin to lessen, and the one with your girlfriend becomes your priority.  However, if you and your girlfriend break up, who will be there to support you? Besides, it’s good to hang out with your friends and grow in relation with them too. After you’ve planned a date with your girlfriend, be sure to make time for your friends. Or go out as a group frequently.

10. Respect her future.  Remember that you are with someone’s future wife. You do not want to do anything that would damage her future relationships. You would not want a guy doing something inappropriate with your sister. Keep that in mind as you are dating and make sure the relationship does not turn sexual. You and she don’t want that baggage.

Used with permission from the book, Flight Plan by Braxton Brady and Lee Burns.

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