Rachel asked: "How do you define dating? How can you know from first meeting someone if he is your future husband? I know I'm still in the "praying and searching" stage, and wonder how I can meet my future husband without "dating"(in the sense of hanging out with someone, trying to get to know him both individually and in groups) before that in search of him. "
I define dating as becoming emotionally involved with someone with no clear guidelines, direction or intentions with the relationship.
This can look different for different people. Dating is not just going out to dinner and a movie. Often times dating is very ambigous! No one clearly talks about the relationship and both are enjoying the self satisfying aspect of the relationship and don't want that to end...so they continue in this limbo, undefinded stage.
I've talked to young women who are heart broken over a relationship that has changed its dynamics. They'll say, "Well, we never really dated." Just because a guy doesn't say, "We're dating!" Doesn't mean those are not dating relationships. Often times it's in these relationships that one finds themselves more emotionally hurt.
Dating should have a goal and a purpose. Getting to know someone can come in all different ways. Also, that "praying and searching" stage should come when both people are ready to get married, which completly eliminates dating too young.
Rachel, does this help?