Just because you want to date someone, doesn't mean you SHOULD.
I've been thinking about a few of the things I wished I had actually paid attention to when I was going through the dating process. I don't really expect anyone to care about my opinions towards dating, but it's on my mind so that is what you get!
1. Before you even enter into a serious relationship (I'm not so much talking about going on a date to get to know somebody. I mean a serious relationship.), I would suggest having your relationship with the Lord on solid ground. Be on a journey, already, of knowing who you are in Christ and living from that truth.
I have heard it a million times that being with a person will "help me in my walk with God." but quite frankly, unless you are already rockin' it out alone with God your growth WITH another person will most likely be hindered. Some people may argue that point, but I choose to disagree for the most part. When you enter into a relationship with someone your focus becomes very narrow, very fast. You see less of the real world around you, and more of that bright sparkly person in front of you. If you don't already have a solid foundation with the Lord you may very easily loose what footing you have. You also don't want someone else being the reason your relationship with Jesus is suddenly doing so well. Influence by someones example is great, but in the end your relationship with Christ is yours alone. If someone else was the only reason you spent time with the Lord you are setting yourself up for a downward spiral at the first fight or long trip apart. I am NOT saying you cannot grow spiritually with a partner. I am married, and I experience personal growth because my husband teaches me things without even meaning to. But no matter my husbands walk with God, my walk is my own. My husband is not accountable to God for me at the end of my life, it's just me and the Father.
So make time to grow in relationship first with God, and understand that all joy comes from Him. And allow the romantic relationship He gives you to be an added bonus.
2. I would say next thing... make sure you are on the same "playing field" spiritually. I could get a lot of crap for saying that, but it's true. Simply believing the same basic thing does not mean you speak the same language. For me personally, I was in a relationship where we both loved Jesus but we never quite were on the same page. I struggled with being able to have conversation about important things on my heart. Some things are easy to work through and are a simple matter of understanding another persons upbringing, and then some things are the result of the other persons personal relationship with Jesus. This one is a little hard for me to fully explain right now. I just can say that I know from experience that saying you believe the same basic truths does not mean you believe the deeper ones. Know the heart of the person you are with and pay attention to whether or not your spiritual truths line up or if you are simply ignoring the stuff that doesn't.
If the person you are interested in doesn't believe in God, don't go there. Do not assume that just because you want to be with that person your spiritual lives will not get mixed up in your relationship. Who you are with will influence your personal relationship with Jesus, one way or the other. You have to be honest with yourself and ask yourself what you want out of your relationship with Christ, and if it's to go deeper into Him you need to ask yourself if that can really happen while dating someone who doesn't even believe in Him.
3. If it's simply not working, no matter how hard you try, quit trying to make something out of nothing. Ask yourself "Self, why are you trying so hard to make such a complicated thing work?" Is it because you are convinced you love that person, and they love you? If fighting, jealousy, control, manipulation, and bitterness are all things you experience on a regular basis... you need to remind yourself of what true love looks like. If you believe 1 Cor. 13 to be correct on love than you know that love is patient, and it's kind. I don't mean to say that you don't have bumps in the road (some large and some small), but the "big kid" thing to do is ask yourself if you are making it work because you simply can't stand the thought of being alone. A bigger question yet, "Have I allowed myself to enter into a co-dependent relationship?" If you are currently in a relationship that sees more downs that it does ups, I would challenge you to ask yourself "Why am I here?" And answer honestly.
4. Is this relationship good for the other person? There are a lot of questions to ask yourself when entering into a serious relationship with a person, but one I have just recently started to ask people around me when they are facing a dating question is this: "Is this situation beneficial for your partner, as well as for you?" I think it's a really healthy thing to look outward and see if our partner is as filled as we are. I don't mean are we treating them as they should be treated, I mean do they seem as thrilled about the over all relationship as we do? In those moments of "this is really hard" ask yourself am I keeping them here out of guilt? "Are they trying to leave, but I am not letting them?" Just like we don't want to be the ones manipulated and controlled we have to check ourselves and make sure we are not doing the same to the person in relationship with us.
5. Nobody can tell you who to be with. Yep, it's that simple. No matter what age, no parent, friend, or teacher can really tell you not to feel something for someone, or not to date them. That is allllll up to you. You are 100% responsible for YOU. Every decision you make leaves YOU with the end result sitting in nobody's lap but your own. We can make excuses all day long for why it's ok to be in a relationship with someone in the moment, but can you give me a good excuse for the crop you will harvest later on? Let's get real... anyone reading this is reading it because they know me. If you know me you know I have been through a divorce. I am at least 50% responsible for my divorce. I know that I got married when people around me were unsure I was making the right choice. I got married when I had some reservation in my heart, but since I couldn't pin point it I ignored it. Two years later I was reaping what I sowed. No, maybe I didn't cause all the issues in the midst of my marriage, but I certainly had a hand in the end result. "Big kid decisions result in big kid consequences... we are not 12 anymore dealing with a simple crush."
We don't like to listen to people tell us not to have things that we want. We don't like our parents and closest friends to say that they don't think the person we brought home is right. We want everyone to see all our decisions and life choices as good. Why? Because it validates us as adults. We don't want to be wrong, and we want to prove that not only are we independent, but we are independent AND smart about it. But we aren't always, and that is OK. If you would normally trust your parents and close friends opinions about life matters then, TRUST ME, humble yourself and at least consider what they are saying. Instead of getting upset and making so much noise you can't hear what they are saying... get alone and ask yourself the tough questions. That is what really makes you an adult anyway... when you can get real with YOU and deny yourself instant gratification for something that will last much longer and be much sweeter.
I've done it the hard way, and I've done it God's way.... His way it 100% easier.