Thanks for your email and your insights! You obviously are a very mature fourteen-year-old, with deep thoughts! I'm impressed. I'm sure you will get the most out of life possible for you if you continue to prayerfully discern and weigh out the best path for yourself -- not just going along with the flow of society!
With regards to your question about non-freaking-out ways to communicate courtship to someone ... hmmmm ... good and tough question! I guess the answers to that can be as unique as every situation -- and so it becomes hard to address or give one pat answer for all.
I'll try to offer you some thoughts/guidelines and you see how they fit into your life and circumstances as they arise in the future.
When I suggest "going out on a few dates", I'm referring to getting together to enjoy each other's company for some event or purpose: a dance, a movie, event, etc ... and in the process getting to know each other better. If a guy asks you out to a movie, and you are interested in him and want to go (and it's all appropriate -- you're at an age and stage for beginning a relationship in your life), you certainly don't need to freak him out by talking about discerning marriage! After all, it's just a date. But how you respond to the situation will give off many signals to him ... and you can control the situation from getting out of hand, more than you realize.
2. If he initiates holding hands and romantic gestures, you can say that you'd rather just keep it at a friendship level. It's alright for you to indicate that you consider those things special and that you want to wait for the right relationship before you allow some guy those privileges. I know one girl who did that with a guy whom she really liked who had been sending her mixed messages with his attentiveness to her and certain gestures. As it turned out he was not interested in pursuing her at all, he was just being extra friendly and comfortable with her, not thinking anything of it at all! She was glad to have nipped it in the bud, as her heart had been getting swept away with a guy who was just being nice! And once she cleared the air on that, they were able to have better boundaries in their relationship and continue as friends ... and he really respected her for it! Just as it was important for her to tell him that those things were special to her -- and she didn't just want to share those "little things" with every and any guy -- so too can you tell that to a guy whom you have not yet committed yourself to in a courtship relationship!
3. Also, you can enjoy those "dates", "outings", "events" with him while keeping an open mind, eye and heart! Pay attention and spend that time while you're out with him personally and honestly discerning: "Is this guy someone I'd really consider spending the rest of my life with?"
1. If not ... get out before it goes too far! Hold onto your heart and don't let it get swept away easily by the attention and flattery of having been asked out by a nice/good looking/sweet/popular guy -- whatever the case may be that attracts you to him.
2. If you don't have a good feeling or a clear picture about it after a date or two -- then when and if he asks again, just let him know that you're not really interested in pursuing a steady relationship with him, and that in fairness to him you don't think you should continue doing things alone together since you don't want to lead him on. That can be hard to do, especially since it is nice and fun to enjoy that kind of attention from a guy -- but in the long run, you will save yourself a lot of heartache if you have realized this is NOT the guy for you!
3. If you're interested but still not sure after a couple of dates about him, still choose to back off so that you can pray and discern about him in your life. Don't keep the relationship going indefinitely without direction and leading him on. This is not fair to either of you.
4. Stay focused on what you really want out of life for yourself and what you are looking for in a relationship that will potentially become part of your Love Story!
4. If you ARE interested ... and he "makes the cut" at that point in time -- you can indicate to him that you would not want to continue on in a relationship with no direction. You personally have a standard that if you are ever to get romantically involved with someone you would want it to be a courtship -- where you would discern marriage together. You can explain to him what courtship means to you. And then let him know where you stand:
1. Perhaps you don't know what his personal standards are for relationships, but courtship is your standard and you'd rather not pursue a relationship with him at this time if there's no clear direction in it. Let him decide and let you know where he stands personally on the issue.
2. Perhaps at this point in time you're not really quite ready for entering into a courtship with him (even though you're interested or think there's a potential for the future) and therefore you think you that should back off before the relationship gets too serious without clear direction. It's alright for you to take some time on your own to really pray about it and consider it before you leap forward. But if you are interested in him, why not let him know what your standards are? It also gives him time to consider it and get on the same page as you, or not.
5. Bear in mind that if this guy really has, in your estimation, "made the cut" by this point in time, then he should very likely be the kind of guy who understands the concept of God and discernment and prayer and such ... otherwise, why would he have "made the cut"?!?!? You need to decide for yourself YOUR own personal desires for what you seek in a husband.
1. Are you looking for a godly man who is active in his faith or not?
2. How much do you value a man of God who is open to prayer and discernment and leading a faith-filled, Christ-centered life?
3. Remember that if he is all these things, you wouldn't likely be freaking him out by this point in time! He would understand, even if courtship is a new concept to him.
6. Also, remember, that by the time this might happen in your life, the guy in question could very well be someone whom you've gotten to know well as a friend. There are many opportunities in the course of friendship for you to share your personal standards on relationships: courtship versus dating. And these are great opportunities to help other people look beyond the "flawed and shallow" dating standards of society ... whether or not any of those friends will become "potential" relationships in your life. So be sure to talk with friends and encourage them to think "outside the boxes" of our society's low/non-existent standards for morality and relationships!
7. And finally, trust that when the TIME is right, and the GUY is right, that God will give you the right words to say!
1. Honestly, if you totally freak some guy out -- maybe he's just NOT the right one for you! You've just spared yourself a lot of heartache! There are worse things than freaking out a guy -- especially if he's not the rigth one! Just remember, it's better to have one awkward moment with a guy than to spend your life stuck with a "dud" because you were too shy or afraid to state what you were really looking for in a relationship!
2. Or conversely, if he IS the right one for you -- freaking him out a bit won't scare him off completely ... maybe it'll just wake him up to really think about what he really wants in life and to value you and your relationship all the more!
To seek permission or not to seek permission?
And one extra thought for you, with regards to guys asking permission from a girl's parents. I know one young couple where the guy says it was the hardest thing he ever had to do, but it was still the best thing for him. It made him really decide what he wanted for himself before fully pursuing that relationship. It also made him really evaluate and appreciate just how much that girl meant to him, and what he was willing to go through for her.
To put it plainly -- the guy asking the girl's parents permission is more about the guy than it is about the girl! It is important for guys to meet challenges that make them really consider their manhood ... it's almost like a right of passage to manhood!
1. He realizes he is now behaving as a man -- not just a guy who's "got it bad" for some girl.
2. He has to ask himself honestly, where is this relationship going and am I really ready for that level of commitment?
3. It forces him to be honest with himself, evaluate his own intentions honestly, and to be prepared to act responsibly -- not just use a girl for his selfish pleasures or emotional needines!
4. When a guy asks a girl's parents (father &/or mother, such as the case may be), he realizes that the girl has other people in her life who love her and want to protect her -- and that by asking permission he is valuing her as a person who needs to be respected and protected -- not just an object for his pleasure to be used.
For the girl in that particular relationship I referred to above, she shares how, though she kind of felt bad for the guy (because she knew how nervous he was going to speak with her father) it really made her feel valued highly by him and helped her to see her own worth: that he would go through that for her, really made her feel special and cherished -- like a princess!
You don't HAVE to include "a guy seeking permission to court you" as part of what your Love Story will involve someday ... but don't throw out the whole idea until you've really considered it's value.
A Word About Feminism:
Sometimes people (both men and women) can get all caught up in the lingo and ideals of "feminism" -- without really thinking about what they are throwing away in traditional values.
True, there are many antiquated ideas of how women were under-valued and under-esteemed and poorly treaty, even abused by men, from the past. These ideas are all based on lies and absolutely have to be discarded by Christian men and women and our society as a whole. But not all traditional values should be thrown aside. The answers lie in understanding:
1. the true dignity of women as God created them in the fullness of their potential and femininity -- uniquely different from men, but equal in dignity, value and worth.
2. the unique role a woman plays in her family and in the world.
3. the amazing and miraculous potential a woman possesses to bring new life into the world and to care for her children.
4. the specific ability a woman has to influence and better our society through the expression of her true femininity in all that she is and does.
Consider for yourself someday within the vocation of marriage, with you as a wife and mother. Ask yourself:
1. What do you really want out of life and that relationship?
2. How do you want to be valued by your husband?
3. How will you value him?
4. What role do you wish to play in raising your children ... and what role do you see your husband having with his involvement in raising the kids?
5. Do you want to be a modern hands-off mother who hands her children over to daycares to raise?
6. Or would you like to have the opportunity as a mother to raise your own children and be the one to guide and direct their childhood?
7. If you value this (being able to raise your kids at home) then will you not also value a man who can provide for you to be able to be at home, at least part time, if not full time?
The "Three P's":
I encourage young women to look for the "Three P's" in a man: that is, a man who can take up the responsibility of being a Protector, Provider and Prayer warrior in her life. This is a man who:
1. can treat her with dignity and respect, love and affection, while protecting her and their children from the many things that threaten to destroy families physically and spiritually.
2. can take leadership, without becoming a dictator in the home. This is a man who can provide for physical needs and well-being of his family.
3. who -- as a man of God -- can prayerfully discern God's will for your life, along with you, his wife! It is a man who will take spiritual leadership in the family and be fully involved in the spiritual upbringing of the children.
Again, this is all food for thought for you -- but you are young (fourteen years old) and have lots of time to contemplate it all and to see how it fits for you!
It's Your Love Story:
Remember, you are the one who will determine the Love Story of your life!!! Have fun writing that love story ... choose it for yourself: the characters and the themes! And of course be sure to pray, discern and seek God's will in it all! For if you are living according to His Will, that's when you'll find the deepest joys in life!!! He has a perfect plan for you ... one that will be beyond your wildest dreams!
Blessings on you and please keep me, my family and our ministry in your prayers ... we pray for our readers each day!