Book Review: I Kissed Dating Goodbye
My First Introduction to this Book
I briefly remember my introduction to the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I was in 8th or 9th grade and one of my teachers showed my classmates and I the book in class. I attended a Christian school at the time and the class was a Bible class, so I am sure the book would have crossed my path soon enough. My first thought when I was shown the title was, "Wow. That is really lame." At this point in my life, I was overly nice, so it made an impression on me to think something was ridiculous without even giving it a chance.
We Meet Again
Throughout the years, the book's title would appear in my life repeatedly and it always made me cringe. I still pre-judged it and didn't want to crack open the cover. As serendipity should have it, I found I Kissed Dating Goodbye in my hands at the Goodwill. Here I was, a well-read adult, and I said aloud, "Oh God, it's that LAME book again, ugh." This time, however, I decided to give it a fair chance.
I believe this book will bring out certain emotional reactions depending on your current love life status, age and belief system (if you are a religious or spiritual person). I read a few articles written by people describing the damage the book had done to their psyches or labeling the book as oppressive. Others claimed that this was a revolutionary approach to dating. I could relate to the passion coming from both opinions.
I am relieved that I read this as an adult because as a teenager, I was quite impressionable. I don't think I could have handled all of the book's suggestions because it would have been overwhelming. I understand the criticism from readers who attempted to implement it into their lives.
The author's alternative in simple terms is to develop friendships and to focus on your relationship with God in your season of singleness. When you are single, you have the opportunity to concentrate on your personal development since you are not dividing your attention between yourself and a partner. Though the target audience was young Christians, I believe the advice could also be used for non-Christians. I view the book as a type of bubble wrap for the reader inside and outside of the dating world. Perhaps that is why the book was so popular, in addition to the fact that it came out during the Purity movement. There are so many life-altering decisions that young people can make though they feel that they have the maturity to handle it. To me, the book seemed slightly extreme and I could see how one would gravitate toward it to protect youth from making rash decisions.
"What is so difficult about not dating? Just don't do it," some may say in regards to the book's message. It was not the message that felt like an impeding boulder, but the way the author delivered it. I gained insight on how young readers could be pressured into following the advice of the author, for the "pressure" was not coming solely from him. It could be emanating from their churches or their families. I speak from personal experience because I was in that type of environment. It is the weight of trying to be almost perfect in order to fit into a spiritual standard. But often this goodness does not stem from the joy within but from the influence without. The façade can be played so well that one does not realize the toxicity of his or her own false personality.
I also am taking the author's age into account. He was in his early twenties when this book about spirituality and dating was published. Though the book was well-written and had instances of practical advice, I still take his lack of life experience into consideration. He also points out his youth in the book. It would be interesting to see him take an evaluation of what he wrote in his youth now that he is the father of teenagers. Would he still have the same viewpoint or would it be very different?
Sometimes I felt as if the author made small things larger than they actually were. Teenage relationships causing adult trauma. Kisses leading to intercourse. Friendships destroyed by flirting. Yes, this happens sometimes, if one is not careful. But what about all of the times that it doesn't? A teenage relationship might simply be summer puppy love. A kiss might just end where it is or lead to a wedding. Flirting might just be harmless or silly. Certain parts of the book caused me to laugh, not because it was humorous but because it revealed the innocence of the writer. I enjoyed how he made an attempt to treat women with respect and platonic love. It was admirable and perhaps more boys and men should mirror that behavior.
I was disappointed, however that there was a very brief chapter for those who had already been sexually active upon reading the book. I wish that he taken them into account and was more inclusive. As I mentioned earlier, some critics of the book who had been active felt as if they were used up. Though the chapter for them was there, it did not feel like enough to me. It made me empathize with the inner turmoil a reader in that situation may feel.
If I am an Adult, Does It Still Apply?
If I am an adult, does this advice still apply? If I were to ask the author this question at that age, he would most likely tell me that God's Word always applies. As I read, I wondered how the book could be incorporated into my adult life. Our relationship goals as adults are usually different than most teenagers. Our adult lives may contrast our teenage years. We may be divorced, have our own families, be widowed, want a life partner, etc. In certain cases, the friendship phase in our season of singleness may be extremely beneficial. However, if we already know what we want, why waste time? Often, we can be more forward with people and know from the first meeting that he or she is not the one for us. Perhaps we have been there and done that and also this and would like a significant other. At this point in our lives, we often have a better handle on our emotions. We need guidance, but we are also independent.
Should We Kiss Dating Good-Bye?
To conclude, maybe I will take a note from the "lame book" and see if there are benefits from it for my own life. Maybe kissing dating good-bye for awhile would be kissing the new way of relating hello. But there are good aspects of dating too. It reveals to you what type of partner you do or do not want. It may even make you realize that you never want to have a significant other. Done properly, dating can be a new way of exploring yourself through other people in terms of mental and spiritual interaction. It can lead to life long friends or blunders to laugh about. It can create a deeper connection with others. Perhaps instead of good-bye, we can say, "See you in a little bit" as we develop and love ourselves. We are the ones we have been waiting for.