I am loving the questions that are coming my way, and was recently asked “how soon is too soon to ask someone out on a date?”
I’ve noticed, particularly within the context of the Christian culture, that we have the unfortunate tendency to think in extremes. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to find “the one”, and asking someone out for coffee is sometimes seen as the equivalent of getting down on one knee. While it’s important to take dating seriously–let’s be sure not to get carried away. Asking someone out on a date should be seen as time of a focused “get-to-know-you”. A time of learning more about someone, and sharing more about yourself.
With that in mind, here are three things to consider with regard to how soon is too soon to ask someone out:
1. Define “soon”. Before we go further, let’s define “soon” so that we’re all on the same page. Soon can mean different things to different people. Are we talking first glance-soon? Or someone who has been a childhood friend-soon? I don’t think it’s fair to use the term “too soon” as a blanket statement- because soon looks different to each person depending on the context they are coming from. But one thing I will say is that while I think attraction at first sight can be an important factor in romantically noticing someone of the opposite sex, I always think it’s important to build a friendship first–which brings me to my next point.
2. Practice a season of friendship. In my book, True Love Dates – I dedicate an entire chapter to discussing the literal and figurative “four seasons of dating” that every couple passes through from the time they start dating until the time they get married. But before I discuss those seasons of dating in the book- I take some time to talk about the importance of taking a “pre-season of friendship”.
Developing a friendship is a really beneficial component to finding love. And the truth is– friendship is what the strongest relationships are built upon. While I’ll admit this looks different for each couple, I like to say 3 months (“one season”) is a great way to get to know someone within the context of a friendship.
You can learn so much about someone observing, interacting, and spending time within the atmosphere of your friendship. It’s a good litmus test to see who they are when there are no strings attached and when there’s nothing to be gained. Thinking back on our relationship, this was such a special time for John and I- and the friendship we built is one of my favorite things about the love we share today.
The things you see unfold within your friendship will likely be the best way for you to know if you should go ahead and take the next steps. Take your time and be deliberate about getting to know someone- without cuddling, making out, or getting exclusive prematurely. Because the truth is, I’ve never, ever met someone who said to me that they wished they would have gotten into a relationship sooner–but I ALWAYS meet people who wish they wouldn’t have rushed.
3. Be ready to take to take next steps: Eventually, there comes a time and place to take things to the next level- or on the other hand- to decide NOT to take things to the next level. If you feel like you have a good idea of who this person is and want to take the next steps in getting to know them on a more personal level–it’s probably time to be deliberate about asking them out on a date. Whether that means coffee, dinner, or a round of mini-golf (okay-maybe I’m the only nerd around here…) it doesn’t really matter. The idea is to be clear and honest about your desire to either get to know someone better (or your plans to keep your relationship in the “friend zone”).
We live in a society that’s made it really easy to cop out and be vague. “I’d love to take you out on a date and get to know you a little better” has been replaced with “want to hang out?” or “what are you up to this weekend?”. Shoot for the former, not the latter. When you start a relationship with clear communication- it sets the bar high for good communication the whole way through.
So, yeah, I’ll admit that the “how soon is too soon” question might look different for you than it does for someone else–but hopefully the above will give you a little direction and some added perspective.
Comment below: What are your thoughts on how soon is too soon?
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
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