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Am I Old Enough To Start A Relationship?

By Daily Graphic
Dear Nana Ama, I am 22 and currently in one of the universities. I come from a Christian family and my parents have influenced me so much that I have, since childhood, had a very strong reservation about amorous relationships.
 
I have realised that I have been lonely for quite a while and I am the type who is scared of ladies. There is a prayer mate friend of mine on campus who is asking whether I have plans of starting a relationship.

My friend asked me to reconsider my decision about that subject. I don't have plans of engaging in pre-marital sex and l believe I can control myself with the opposite sex in the area of my emotions.

Is it all right to enter a relationship devoid of sex? Please advise me on what to do. Is it okay to enter a relationship at the age of 22 and as a student?

Seth, Kumasi.

Dear Seth, I'm afraid there is no "right age" per se for courtship; it all depends on your maturity.

Currently, in our society many young people are dating at increasingly younger ages as a result of peer pressure, coupled with the stirring of manhood and womanhood through adolescence.
 
Thus, hormones, emotional needs and a desire to be adult-like work together to shape how a young man and a woman will view relationships in their lives. 

I believe it's important, especially if you are a Christian and are determined to uphold the teachings of the Bible, to step back from the pressures around you and take a good look at the whole issue of dating. 

There are several factors to consider and the most important is the purpose of dating. The ultimate reason for dating is to find a spouse. 

Although it may be unpopular to say so, I really believe that a person should begin dating only when he or she is at an age and stage in life when marriage is a realistic possibility.

It is again important for you to understand a few things about dating. When dating, what young men and women look for are typically different things. 

When a young woman decides to date, she is often craving the attention of one special man in her life who will provide security and emotional support, whereas young men, although they too can crave attention from a woman to fill a gap in their emotional life, are most often looking for an outlet for their growing physical desires and sexual urges.
 
These underlying motivations can either be obvious or subconscious. Either way, they still exist.
   
When it comes to “Christian dating”, as you are considering, the above underlying motivations will still exist. 

Even when the young couple involved desire to be pure and chaste, they will still be subject to the struggle of keeping growing desires under control. This naturally will create a great deal of tension within them.
 
The girl naturally would like to be at the centre of her boyfriend's world and to achieve that she would struggle against giving in to whatever she perceives he wants from her.

As a Christian, she knows that she is supposed to practise chastity, but she also does not want to lose his affection and attention.
 
On the other hand, the guy may fight back the urge to fulfil his sexual desires. As a Christian, he knows he is supposed to practise chastity, but he too begins looking for how far he can go to get some degree of satisfaction.

He soon discovers that by playing on the girl's emotional needs for commitment and security in the relationship, he can manipulate her to meet his needs.
 
The above can all be very confusing for young people committed to the Christian virtue of chastity. In spite of their “best intentions”, they can find themselves sliding down a slippery slope towards pre-marital sex. 

The question, therefore, is, Is it possible for a Christian to date “purely”?  Absolutely!  But it requires a great deal of self-discipline and maturity, which incidentally most teenagers lack! 

But even when a young person (who may have about eight or 10 years ahead of him before settling down) possesses great self-discipline and maturity, the question still remains: What can he or she achieve through a dating relationship which he could not achieve through friendship?

So, Seth, consider critically all the above and make a sound judgement.