You’ve asked such a good question! Thank you for raising the issue of how the world defines dating versus the principles the Bible upholds with regard to dating.
Firstly, I think it is important to understand that as a Christian, dating is never the end goal in itself. The purpose of dating is to find out if this person you are getting to know is someone you can see yourself being with for life.
It isn’t a fling; it isn’t something just to occupy your time or have someone to make you happy; it isn’t something to be taken lightly. It is purposeful and above all, it should give glory to God (1 Cor 10:31). Therefore, if there is anything done in the stage of dating which does not align with God’s ways, for example, pre-marital sex (1 Thess 4:3–4; the Greek word for “sexual immorality” refers to sex outside of the context of marriage), making the other person an idol you put above God (Exod 34:14), using the relationship solely to serve yourself (Mark 12:31) — these are things to call into question.
In fact, the Bible does not explicitly talk about dating as a concept. In biblical times, people usually had their marriages arranged by their family members. What the Bible does have are clear principles about how we are to live out our lives unto God (e.g., Exod 20; Lev 19:2; Matt 22:37–40).
As a Christian, the journey of dating should include looking out for the best interests of the other person (Phil 2:3–4). This is because he is treasured by God. Dating isn’t about what makes you feel good. As fellow Christians, the journey of dating should draw both of you closer to God as the other person also considers your interests above his own. Therefore, even if the dating journey does not eventually end in marriage, both parties would have grown from this time of dating to be more like Christ.
As you consider these things, continue keeping your eyes fixed on Christ!