Often as women, we don’t have prepared plans for relationships; instead we use our experiences as guides. The dating scene is a great example of when to have a proactive plan. Dating opens garage doors to our hearts that not many of us had realistic ways to protect prior to that first date. The truth is many women began going on dates as girls who were simply following a cultural initiation without an intimate understanding of what you’re even in search of.

Let’s take a look at a few ladies rearview mirror thoughts or the things they see now looking back that they couldn’t quite realize in the moment. Maybe you can avoid the heartache faced regarding the dating standards or lack thereof in their lives. After all, when we look at life we often forget that we are jaded by our paradigm and frequently we see dating as stepping stones to relationships while men frequently see dating as a means to an end. The heartache and pain is often closer than we ever imagined looking through our rose colored glasses at who we hope is prince charming.

*Is this even a date?

Many of us can look into our rearview mirrors yet can’t distinguish men we dated because there was no defined “date”.  If you didn’t get asked to accompany someone as a respected woman, then it may not have been a date.  There are a lot of fun sitcoms that leave us curious if we were really on a date, a break or booty call but my simple rule is that if you don’t know if it was a date then it wasn’t!  Why does this matter? If someone wants to know how much money you make, the goals you have in life, or anything about the real you then they will respect you enough to be proper and ask you out respectfully.  A lot of intimate things can be outside of a “date”. Don’t let actions define the moment but rather make the moment define what actions are appropriate.

I recall thinking of the song Aretha Franklin made famous on my dates asking “Is this guy giving me my props?”  Funny, this song was originally sung by a man thus the line, “I’m about to give you all my money all I’m asking for is a little respect.” So, we have to remember to respect the guy’s purity too.

*Age matters!

Speaking to a few of my friends’ daughters this week, I found several of them in different age groups all felt the same way. They all echoed the thoughts, “I started being alone with guys too young.” (13-15 yrs old) Or even, “I didn’t know how to stop dating.”

One beautiful young lady, a dual-enrolled high school senior, admitted her thought life and romantic daydreams began before her dating. So once she opened that dating door, the thoughts flooded in uncontrollably. She regrets being opened to the battlefield of dating where she felt like she lost her innocent look at romance so young.  Her advice to the ladies is, “No matter what your age now, try to control what you daydream, fantasize about and linger on because it almost always ruins what you have in real life.” In order to try to maintain an outlook of purity during moments with guys she finds a ‘safe place’ to be alone; The type of location that freaks you out to do anything physical in, but a neutral place that honest conversation can take place.

*Discover your boundaries and make a plan to defend them.

A friend who has been married over 25 years just told me how she and her husband maintained purity standards prior to marriage even though they had both had sex before.  Neither of them have shame in their marriage bed.  Sure, they both crossed that line before, but sought the redeeming power of God’s Grace to enter their relationship and found joy in that honeymoon that still remains.

Set your own standards in prayer, create a safety plan for yourself and communicate your boundaries to that nice looking man before you are alone with him.