1) Dating is not a realistic environment in which to get to know someone – or even necessarily to learn about the opposite sex. On a date, the stated intention is to go out and have a good time together. You’re separated from others. There are formulas and expectations for how one behaves on a date. This is not real life. The person you become acquainted with is not the real person.
You want to get to know someone? Spend time hanging out with their family – watch how they treat their parents, their siblings, their possessions. Work with them – see how they handle responsibility and challenges and difficulties. Serve with them – find out where their passions lie . . . and don’t lie. Separate the two goals of romance and entertainment. Don’t look for romance just to give you something fun to do. When you've gotten to know someone enough to know they could be "the one", then you can enjoy the romance.
2) Dating essentially trains you for divorce. At least, dating as it is typically done by young people these days. Consider: you “commit” to someone as their boyfriend or girlfriend; you have good times together; and then when it’s getting stressful . . . when it’s not fun anymore . . . when somebody better comes along . . . you break up. And for many kids, this happens over and over and over.
How in the world is this supposed to prepare you for a life-long commitment where you may be – and most likely WILL be – required to persevere through trials, hardships, and (worst of all) boredom? The simple answer is, it doesn’t. It bruises you and makes your heart tender to the touch – which only complicates later relationships. (Yeah, I expect some fallout from this one . . . )
3) Dating requires you to focus energy and attention on one person, at a time in your life when there are so many other things that need your focus. Your teen and young adult years are so important and so valuable. This is when you are truly discovering your gifts and passions for life. Honing your skills. Finding your calling. Without time-consuming relational commitments (i.e. spouse and family – and boyfriends/girlfriends), you are available to do other important things: volunteer work, career-building, education . . . the stuff that makes you you far more than a romance does.
Besides: doing these things now will make you more romance-able later. Boys, the best way you can attract a girl is to be confident in yourself and to have good reason for that confidence. Girls, when the boys grow up and get serious about their women, they’ll want someone with more going for them than good looks and a lot of experience with other boys. Your dating relationship should NOT define you; you are something else beyond that. Lay the foundational work of becoming who you were created to be before adding the hard work of growing and maintaining a romantic relationship.
Don’t read this as a call to strict, all-out “courtship”, as so many homeschoolers do. I respect kids who choose that path (although I question the wisdom of parents who force it on their kids). But no, this is a call to living life intentionally – not falling into default mode because you’re following the crowd – thinking about what you want to accomplish with the behavior you are indulging in. That’s a radical move for a teenager. Be the best kind of radical.