The USA’s political dominance means she engulfs all western countries, including Australia, with her cultural flotsam, jetsam and effluvium. And as I kissed dating goodbye has had an effect on North American youth, so it has also affected people here in Australia.

The foundational assertion of the book, and to a lesser extent of other movements such as ‘True Love Waits’, is that when we’re single, romantic relationships with the opposite sex are opprobrium. Sex is to be saved for marriage, so it’s emotionally healthier for us to not become emotionally involved with anyone except the person we intend to marry. The basis for a successful relationship is friendship, trust and respect. It’s better to get to know someone first before snogging them.

This was my philosophy of dating long before I kissed dating goodbye was published. It’s common sense, or sensible at least, to know a person before we start emotionally bonding with them. Otherwise, it’s like reheating leftovers day after day: wasteful, unhealthful and you get sick of the taste. To avoid wasting emotional energy, I consider the final goal – in this case, marriage – and think about how I want it to be. What do I want in a lifetime partner? Apart from being single, unrelated, and Christian, she should be a woman I trust, respect and admire. I want to like her and to enjoy being with her.

There’s a saying: we’re attracted by looks, we fall in love with personality, but we have to live with character. It is sensible to get to know someone on the basis of ‘friendship first’. And group social events are helpful because they let us see how the object of our tentative affections relates to other people in different situations.

For example, there was a person I knew years ago – physically an attractive girl. She knew how to get a male’s interest. But as I got to know her, I saw several unattractive traits to her character: incorrectly believing she knew what I meant, she would interrupt me to contradict a straw man. She insulted people in their absence. Despite wanting people, specifically men, to treat her with respect (which is as it should be), she went to one guy’s house dressed in a tiny two-piece bikini covered by a net shirt. Once, going to a wedding, she sat in her car and honked the horn, rather than walking to the front door to get me. This Pavlovian summons works for dogs, but it didn’t work for Julie Andrews and it doesn’t work for me.

These events (and several others) took place within two days. Obviously I was not thrilled with her attitudes or actions, so while the dreamer in me hoped that our friendship might become romantic, my rational side knew that this would not happen. (If she read this she would likely say it was sour grapes on my part.)

So far, okay. But this concept – not dating someone until you’ve developed a friendship with them – has been taken too far when people say that they won’t spend time one-on-one with a member of the opposite sex, even if that’s just getting to know them, because that’s also ‘dating’. I kissed dating goodbye is sensible not to say this (again, that’s what I understand the book says. I only really looked at the intro because it was written by Rebecca St James: c’est la grrr!) but as we tend to do, some people go too far in the opposite direction and stretch the definition of ‘dating’ to include any one-on-one time with a person of the opposite sex.

Sure, there are times when that situation definitely isn’t appropriate – late at night, at home/ a friend’s house/ the old mill/ behind the barn and so on – but there are acceptable times and places. It’s okay to spend time, in public, getting to know another person of the opposite sex, especially if your social circles are different. How would matters be different if you didn’t meet in person, but chatted over the ’phone and via email? Are you then not dating because you’re not face to face?

With the phone, email and even using an instant messenger, you can hide aspects of your character that you aren’t proud of. There’s also room for misinterpretation because it’s more difficult to nuance in written form than face-to-face – about 80% of our communication is non-verbal. For this reason, there’s a lot about us that we can hide when speaking on the ’phone.

I thought the whole point of I kissed dating goodbye was to build a relationship that is based on knowledge rather than feelings. The best way to do that is to spend time with a person. Whether the two of you are in a group or talking over the ’net or talking one-on-one, you can still have romantic thoughts and warm fluffy feelings for one another. The point is to keep them under control and get to know the other person.

In fact, one virtue of ‘falling in love’ is that it enamours us of one person for long enough to get to know them. But when we treat the feeling as an end in itself, we won’t seek anything more, like discovering the character of the person we’re in love with.

When you have gotten to know someone as part of a group and you think that you might be well as a couple, you have to spend one-on-one time with them, asking them more personal and intimate questions that you need to know the answers to before you wed. If you’re interested in someone, then spending time with them in person is the best way to know them better. In public, and with appropriate boundaries set, doesn’t contravene the foundational idea of ‘friendship before romance’.

copyright 2007 Troy Grisgonelle.

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