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Though dating may mean different things to different people today, in its original state and considering the practice of it in the culture that precipitated the concept, it refers to a period where two people of the opposite sex explore whether they are romantically or sexually compatible.

It is after romantic and sexual compatibility is established that the parties begin to consider committing to marrying each other.

In some dating relationships, marriage is not in view at all. The relationship is simply utilitarian. Help me scratch my “bum bum” and I help you do yours. Supply me emotional support and I give you back. It’s totally a market system controlled by the forces of demand and supply. It’s everything marriage ought to supply minus the commitment.

In a nutshell, dating approaches a relationship from a non-commitment angle. It promotes intimacy, physical and or emotional without prior assurance of lifelong commitment.

Regarding the choice of a life partner, the traditional practice of dating approaches the issue a lot in a trial and error format- it’s a lot guesswork. Like multiple-choice questions. You like a girl you ask her out, you explore yourself and then something happens, you suddenly realize it can’t work but of course after a whole year stamping your hands indelibly on each other’s soul, so you move to someone else and continue the trial and error until maybe you get someone or maybe not. You just married the person you dated closest to when you thought you were old enough to marry.

This is unlike the traditional Christian approach that encourages some level of conviction before approaching a partner for a relationship. I think this is the reason why a lot of denominations that are more spartan completely avoid the use of the word “dating”. To them, it suggests unseriousness. It’s the reason they prefer to use “fiancee” other than a girlfriend and vice versa.

It is the culture of dating that precipitated the desire to be in a relationship even though one wasn’t ready for marriage. I remember that even as very young teenagers back then, you wanted to be with someone. Everyone around you is. I started my first boyfriend/girlfriend relationship in SS1.

What business did we have entering a relationship at such a time? There’s a funny story of a particular time I wrote a “letter of application” to arguably the most classy girl in my class then. In the letter, though I was asking her out, I didn’t want to use the word boyfriend/girlfriend because they had preached sufficiently against it at home and in the church that associating with it will break my conscience. So I was perambulating in my letter. The girl, more exposed than I am responded through a letter too saying, “what you’re saying is that we should be boyfriend and girlfriend and in the future become husband and wife. I agree” and then went on praying about how God will keep us. Abeg, park well. Which God asked us to go and be entering a romantic relationship in SS1? By the way, I still have the letter. Here am I around 15 years after just being ready.

When we got into the university in those days, we heaved a sigh of relief. We thought finally we are free from all those teenage disciples who will keep preaching against boyfriend and girlfriend and making us feel bad.

At least now at the university, we can now start calling ourselves fiance and fiancee. So though most of us were between sixteen and eighteen years in our 100 level, there was a rush. Everyone was hooking up with someone. It was as though the girls will finish.

Come and see Anglomoz every night. It was like a market every night only that in this market, they don’t sell Ankara or provisions, what is transacted is raw lustful passions. (Anglomoz is the frontage of the first-year male and female hostel of Obafemi Awolowo University. The two hostels, by the way, are side by side). It’s surprising however that maybe around 85% of those relationships that I know started on campus have collapsed today. We were clearly not ready for marriage, yet we didn’t want to miss out on the benefits that intimacy brings. Whereas certain platonic friendships with the opposite sex could afford some healthy intimacy which was good enough for the stage we were in, we loathed that; we wanted something deeper. Someone to call our own exclusively. Now since commitment isn’t yet in view for such relationships, something else must keep the relationship busy. Sensualities. Inanities.

I know some of our Christian brothers will think they are not on this table I’m shaking but sorry, you are. Even though you may not be necessarily sexing in those noncommitment relationships, you’re “emotioning.” You’re getting emotional dividends without any intention to commit. You are not planning to go into a relationship with someone, yet if she fails to call you in a day you’ll pick a quarrel with her. You demand exclusive attention. She even has no space to accommodate other friends. At the end of each call, you both end the conversation with, “I love you”. You call her endearing names like “sweetheart”, “Honey.” So she construes the existence of a relationship only for you to tell her one day about a lady you’re trying to ask out and then hell breaks loose. You have just used somebody. It’s the same matter – intimacy without commitment. It’s a selfish perspective. It’s antithetical to true love which puts the interests of others first.

So maybe we should kiss dating goodbye and think of a new way. Should we? In the coming weeks, we will dig deep into these issues and pick them one by one in detail. But maybe someone is already repenting about leading sisters on without any commitment intent. Please go ahead. I had to also do this at some point in my life. You don’t want to keep hurting people all around. And maybe someone is about to force a discussion. Something like, Ade, “what are we?” Where is this relationship leading to? Would that make you feel cheap? No. It would only show you are not a frivolous person. How can someone be hanging around you without commitment at 27? He won’t eat and will not allow others who want to eat to eat. Are we Ok?

If you don’t mind, let’s hook up again next week. And for those of you calling me love doctor, please warn yourselves. I’m a lawyer o. Wait first, if you guys even have a case, will I come to your mind first? Let’s know what we are doing o. Smiles.

As I leave, I want your feedback. What’s your thought? Should we bid dating goodbye?

Your Brother,
Peniela Akintujoye

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