Not dating in high school
A specialness that implies he doesn’t do this with a lot of other girls, and she doesn’t do this with a lot of other boys. I can imagine an exceptional situation in our culture where two young people are extraordinarily mature and spiritual and marriage is planned for age eighteen — right after high school.
In other words, pretty quickly people who are doing things together because they like each other are going to feel some sense of proprietary action here, some possessiveness, a kind of desire for some special focus or qualified commitment, not marriage, not engagement, but something else. My generation said, “going steady.” Now that seems to imply something that to me is absolutely natural. Such relationships seem perfectly natural and good. The question becomes, “Is it wise for a sixteen-year-old to step into that river that flows towards marriage? That would be, it seems to me, a remarkable exception that proves the wisdom of the rule — namely, that the maturity level of teenagers is not great enough to make such massive decisions.
Second with the object(s) of your affection - about your boundaries, your goals, and your screw ups.
Obviously it's a lot more nuanced and fun than that, but this is just the basic idea.
That’s how relationships move from acquaintance to dating to engagement to marriage. Marriage at the early age of eighteen can create enormous burdens on the couple that they may not be ready for — namely, schooling, vocation, childbearing, childrearing.
The principle, it seems to me, that wisdom calls for is to postpone dating to the point where there is a significant measure of spiritual maturity and life experience and a readiness to move toward marriage.
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiring and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
Way too much credence is given to the idea that "dating" is some kind of skill only picked up in a limited window, preferably early (like a language), and can be "missed".
Sure, the longer you wait to begin, the less time you have, by definition; but, its still always based on your underlying personality and the kind of person you are when alone.
There was a time when the cultural expectations and the cultural supports were in place, partly to prepare young people to marry that early and partly to provide the structures and help after they got married.
That’s not as true today in America as it once was. The second thing I want to say about the older generation (my generation perhaps) is that many parents today who did marry quite early would still counsel young people today not to pair off in dating relationships during high school.
Once upon a time, young people married much more commonly at age seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen, or even earlier in some cultures.