How to Choose a Cool Date:

 

LISTEN TO YOUR BRAIN

Dating is cool. It's no accident that our eyes admire slick looks and sleek figures. The scent of perfume entices our noses. Our ears welcome hypnotizing voices. But these organs may also confuse our common sense and leave us tumbling out of control like a spacewalker without a tether. There's another organ to be consulted while choosing who to date--your brain. Be smart. Use it.

We tag people "animals" when they make their dating decisions more by hormones than by their brains--going for sex like a guided missile roaring toward its target. God endowed humans with larger brains than animals of comparable weight, apparently expecting us to make intelligent choices.

If we'll listen, our brains will safely guide us when our other organs start us down a dangerous path. Beneath the intoxicating warm fuzzies, our brains remember what we've learned from our parents, at church, and from the Bible. When your hormones try to climb into your driver's seat--remember these eight "brainy" tips.

DATE ONLY POTENTIAL MATES

Bad marriages often begin with a "harmless" first date just as a drugged-up kid hanging out of a smashed car started down that road with a "harmless" first fix. When you meet new kids you soon know if their values are so different from yours that dating them makes no sense. If so, don't date. Friends, yes. Dates, no.

If the animal within you chooses to ignore messages from your friend between your ears, signals from other organs may gradually convince you that dating that person could make sense. But your first negative impression is usually right. And don't scheme to change your date to fit your style--it rarely works.

THINK OF YOUR FUTURE

Picture yourself at age 40 spending every holiday with your date's family. Fun? Or something to endure? The family is always part of the deal. Spending the rest of your life alone in blissland with your mate is fantasy.

And don't overlook that we don't all grow old gracefully; things happen--terrible things. What if you were paralyzed in a car crash and couldn't lift a spoon to your mouth! You'd need a real friend. Someone who loved you. OK so far?

PUT ICE ON YOUR HORMONES

Overdosing on perfume while cuddling in a car clouds our minds. We're mammals and despite our larger brains, we're like any other mammal and require fresh air to keep our heads clear--so come up for air and do some sharp thinking.

Holly wood gives the impression that coming on sexually is OK on dates. Natural behavior. Harmless. But that's a lie. For example, consider how a teen pregnancy affects everyone involved, including the child (who may say, "My parents were animals"). It's stupid. Since AIDS has entered the sexual scene, sex before marriage may be--literally--the kiss of death. Condom or no condom.

After the first years in the wedding nest, married life offers more bills, ear infections, and plumbing leaks than sex. So choose a mate with the common sense to perform in a crisis with a sick or injured child--not one to perform in bed.

TAKE YOUR TIME

When Randy selected his first car, he was going to spend most of his hard-earned money--no room for a mistake. He researched Consumer Reports, drove cars, gathered opinions, checked paint, and kicked tires--then told the salesman he'd think it over a few days. Most kids like to visit several campuses before choosing a college; they try on clothes endlessly. But we depend too quickly on our eyes, ears, and noses when choosing who to date. This is for real, guys--not a dress rehearsal. Use your brain.

DECIDE WHAT MATTERS MOST

Analyze your goals. What type of person do you like? Place a yardstick beside your latest companion and see if your dating math adds up to 100%. Try this simple system of weighing the main factors.

Spiritual Maturity: 35%

Does he or she possess strong personal faith in God or lean on parental faith? Does he or she depend on God's guidance for daily problems? Lifetime decisions? Solutions to difficult situations? Does he or she have personal devotions? Is he or she active in a church you would be comfortable attending?

Personality/Emotional Maturity: 30%

Is he or she emotionally stable and rock solid or given to wild mood swings? To really know the answer you must see him or her under many different circumstances. Observe your date alone (you needed FreeWay to tell you that?), with two or three couples, in large groups, at church, at ball games, when tippy-toed with ecstasy, and when devastated with stress (no, you shouldn't be the stress test). While dating, we often behave more like the person we wish we were than who we really are. And we tend to see the personality, looks, and maturity in our date that we hoped for in our dream mate. So we run the real risk of two people falling in love with each other's fantasies, rather than with the real persons our siblings and parents know.

Entering life's journey mismatched because you chose the person with the most pumped-up pump-up shoes, cutest sweaters, or slickest wheels may put you on a rough road. Rather than eternal bliss, life may resemble more the whomp, whomp, whomp of a flat tire beating the pavement.

And don't disregard your date's plans for his or her life's work. Fulltime mom, or gray business suit with briefcase jumping on planes? How does that fit your plans?

Spiritual/Emotional Maturity of His or Her Family: 20%

Your date's family's spiritual maturity and lifestyle will heavily influence you. After the dazzling altar rendezvous, after the wedding photos begin to collect dust, your new roomie will resemble his or her family far more than the person with whom you had flowery date discussions while driving under the influence of perfume.

Everything OK so far? How's your date measuring up?

Intelligence: 10%

There are two important ways you can encourage intelligent conversations over breakfast, and bear smart children: a. be born bright yourself, because you have brainy parents (too late); and/or b. wed a bright, cool mate.

Good schools and excellent teachers certainly help, but it's mostly in the genes.

Physical Appearance: 5%

Personality and spiritual maturity should be the heavyweights in your decision, not looks. Invest in things that last. (And who needs FreeWay to learn to go for good looks?)

But physical attraction shouldn't be totally ignored, especially if you're the type with great admiration for good looks. That trait isn't likely to evaporate after marriage, and a well-groomed mate will wear well. A high-fiber, low-fat diet may help, but for a glimpse of your potential mate in the future, don't choose a crystal ball--look at his or her mom and dad.

WEIGH YOUR OWN BAGGAGE

Look at your own family, then gaze into the mirror. Besides braces and zits, what have you gotten from your parents that would repel your dream mate? What can you do to improve? Change your hair? Spruce up your clothes? Better yet, sharpen your spiritual dimensions, read your Bible faithfully and get involved in a youth group.

LOOK FOR COOL DATES IN THE RIGHT PLACES

Where can you unearth someone with all the right figures (percentages)? Hang out where cool Christians hang out. The famous bank-robbing dude, Willy Sutton (of an earlier age--ask your grandparents) when interrogated as to why he robbed banks replied, "That's where the money is." Go fishing where fish live, swim, eat, and are content. Fishing in a desert will get you sand in your socks--but no fish. Kids who hang out where drugs and sex are cool are already sliding down a slippery slope and may waste the best years of their youth crashing and burning. Not a good choice.

PRAY FOR GOD TO HELP YOU MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE

Surprise! God already knows the cool future mate for you--with exact name and address. The most brainy thing you can do is become closer friends with God and eventually He'll share the secret with you. The best dating advice comes from the Bible. You could paraphrase James 1:15: If you need wisdom (about dating), ask, and God will freely provide it.

Marriage is not for everyone. But for most of us, after our choice to become a Christian, choosing a cool mate is the most important decision we'll ever make. Our hormones pump us to act like animals; our brains beg us to follow God. Listen to your brain.