Especially among teenagers, but also among many 20-30 somethings, dating continues to have disastrous effects. Again and again, we see boys/men and girls/women (for the most part anymore) coming together to date for what is supposed to be recreational pleasure. Some may have marriage in mind, but many do not. The goal for most is simply this - fun.
Instead of fun, what dating ends up doing is providing divorce practice. The reason for this is that most people who date for pleasure end up breaking up. This causes, at least for one party, torn feelings of sadness and despair. It also gets people used to breaking off male-female relationships.
This says nothing of the temptations that dating people face. If they are human, those who are dating will be physically attracted to each other. However, there is nothing that they can do with these feelings (that is, if they want to honor God). Paul tells us that it is better to marry than to burn, but for people who are dating for pleasure, they have nothing to do but become increasingly frustrated.
Because of these problems, I'm convinced that "recreational dating" does not, in fact, exist. A much better term that describes the reality of what we see in the dating scene is "wreckreational dating." The reason for the spelling should be clear. Modern dating usually leads not to marriage, but rather to a train wreck of destroyed emotions.
Is there a better alternative? Yes. That alternative is courtship. While the main purpose of dating is temporary pleasure, the main purpose of courtship is marriage. Courtship is a man and a woman spending time together with a specific goal: to see if marriage is appropriate between them. The key is that they are moving toward marriage. Pleasure is secondary. The specifics of different courtships may vary, but the goal is the same.
Courtship has several benefits. It saves emotional heartache, reduces sexual frustration, and does not provide any divorce practice.
I highly encourage courtship while at the same time strongly discourage wreckreational dating.
(Click here to read more that I've pondered about this topic.)