Recently I was contacted by a 17 year old girl I got to know during my youth min years in Michigan. She is leading a small group of 7th grade girls (so cool!) and wanted some wise, "veteran" advice on the subject of boys and dating. Of course I have my opinions and convictions on this subject, but it was harder than I anticipated to put my thoughts on paper. After writing back to her, I decided to share my mind with all of you. (I'd love to hear your reflections.)
I don't believe there is a specific "right" or "wrong" answer to boys and dating, but what follows are my best words of wisdom on the subject of What to do if you like a boy or a boy likes you.
I chose to not date until after high school for a few reasons.
1. It gave me an "out" for those guys I really didn't want hurt, but didn't want to date either. (That was just plain convenient.)
2. It saved my heart. I knew I would connect to a guy too hard and too fast and a break-up would likely rip me apart. That was unnecessary pain in my mind. And I didn't want the rest of my young life to be hanging on the emotional stability (or lack thereof) of my current dating relationship. Friends, activities, and homework were WAY more important.
3. There were 2 or 3 boys I did seriously like and kind of wanted to date while I was in high school, but when I started contemplating dating them I couldn't bear the thought of losing their friendship should our dating go wrong. I valued their friendship too much to ruin it or even make it awkward.
4. I believe the point of dating to be finding a suitable husband. I knew I wouldn't be ready to marry as a teenager or even right after high school, so I didn't think there was any reason to date.
Those were my reasons for my decision back then, and I still believe that they were the right ones. In addition to that, I now understand that guys are just not mature enough as teenagers to provide the love and respect a girl needs and deserves.
A girl might even be interested in the "right" guy--a good kid, solid faith, kind and fun and considerate--but he's only a teenager and his emotions and thought processes are just not matured yet. Hold off for a few years--at least till late high school or college--before considering a relationship with him. If he's the right guy for you, he'll stick around. (You might even want to have that conversation with him--being honest with him about wanting to date, but needing to wait a few years for the purpose of growing and maturing. And if you can't have that conversation with him--if he'd be weird about it or make fun of you for it--then he's really not worth you time.)
And more than anything, if you can't talk openly and honestly about your faith in Jesus then he's not worth it (as a boyfriend, that is.) And DO NOT go into a relationship hoping he'll become a Christian by your example. "Missionary dating" will go wrong, every time.