About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. Robin,
    As a mother of a 25 year old woman…I agree with you and my daughter would too. Looking back she sees that 16 (or really the teen years in general) is way too young to handle all the drama, emotional turmoil and sexual temptation that comes with being in a “serious” relationship. Though, as a child of God, she has moved past them, she regrets mistakes that she has made and if she had a free “do over” she probably would have chosen differently. But God, in His amazing way is using those threads to weave her story and part of her story is now working with a group of girls at church who are 14 years old. She will stay with them until they graduate. I know for a fact that her testimony is making a difference in their lives. God can truly use all things together for good for those that love Him! Meanwhile…go for the girlfriends!!
    Blessings Robin,

    • Bev ~ YES! For the Romans 8:28 of our past!! God CAN use all of it for our good, His glory and the Gospel’s sake….but sometimes it takes a while to see that or believe it. A common thread for me these days is the redemptive nature of God; He’s redeemed His people and He can redeem the pain or hardship of our past. How lovely that your daughter has a changed mind and heart and is using what she knows to bless others. 🙂

  2. As young women gather around a square table at my house on Thursday afternoons … to chat after high school … while they KICK and TWEET. I must say I agree with you Robin. These young women are already broken by choices of their Mothers. They need time to reveal & heal. My daughter and I started this work four years ago and group therapy on {Thursday nights} … two years ago. NOW, the three get to go.

  3. I have deep regrets over some of the decisions I made in High School. I think that some of those mistakes contributed to the naming (not good enough, never be good enough, unworthy, so stop trying) of myself which colored much of my adult life. I would love to go back and put my energy into building stronger friendships with my girlfriends. As a mother of 3 daughters, 2 of which are in Junior High, I pray that they will make better choices than I made!

    • The beautiful thing, Amber, is you can lead from your position of insight. Might I encourage you not to over-react or assume the worst or even be too strict, but to allow your experience to point them in a better direction. There is a ridiculous amount of pressure to date! From elementary school well-meaning people ask, “Do you have a boyfriend??” which sounds silly, but it happens! So it feels like something is “wrong” with you if you don’t! One of the guiding principals for my husband and me has been to challenge our children with the consequences of their choices; to consider the big picture and not just the moment. I think because we’ve talked about it for so long, this is their go-to response; even though they’re young, they seem to think in terms of consequences for their decisions (not to suggest they always make the best choices, but at least most of the time :).).

  4. my 12 year old daughter (who is “liked” by many boys), and i talk about how one of the rewards of holding off on dating is getting to enjoy great friendships with girls AND boys. and they are all potentially lifelong!
    dating—this “trying on” of people usually results in going your separate ways when it doesn’t “fit”. and usually requires leaving friendship on the fitting room floor as well. 🙁 ‘
    she is truly learning to enjoy the many friendships she has while putting ‘a boyfriend’ in god’s hands. p.s. boyfriendbears.org –kris

    • Kris ~ I wonder what percentage of the time “We can still be friends” works out; gosh, I remember that line from back in the day. For some reason your comment made me remember how much of a difference an involved DAD can make in his daughter’s life–to tell her she’s beautiful and special and one day a guy would be lucky to find her…if she feels lovely and valued by her first male relationship, it can have such positive affect in her life. That wasn’t the point of my post, of course, but I think it’s true :).

      (thanks for sharing)

  5. Like Robin’s daughter, I suppose you could say I made a decision not to date in high school. It wasn’t a firm “this isn’t happening” statement but I never saw the point in being with someone who didn’t really matter to me (although had my high school crush actually asked me out, I probably would have said yes). In university, I was too busy to worry about the guys. Somehow, dating never became a priority. I am now 35 and still single (happily!) but occasionally I do wonder why my path has been so different from the traditional ‘get married and have babies’ path. I don’t regret the single journey, and I’m thankful for not having embarrassing and/or life-changing mistakes with men in my past. But the boyfriend questions still come, and certainly the “world” finds this 35 year old virgin to be a strange thing.

    Thanks Robin for the encouragement. It is indeed a gift to not have had the broken hearts that some of my friends had, and to not have to live with the mistakes of losing virginity to the wrong person, or getting pregnant earlier than expected, or marrying too young because of youthful “mistakes”. I’ve seen it happen too many and I am thankful that God has chosen a different path for me!

  6. I was in and out of steady relationships even though I wasn’t “dating” all through high school. Like you, I didn’t want my daughter to waste her youth and emotions on all that drama.

    I found two different ideas helpful. Elizabeth Elliot shared that her mother taught her not to chase boys, and when boys chased her to keep them at arms length. Doug Wilson talks about teaching our girls to be “warm, friendly, and distant.” I’ve encouraged boys I’ve mentored to be the same, actually–to be intentional about building friendships and having a certain self-dignity in responding to the attentions of someone who may be infatuated with them.

    In my daughter’s case, she had quite a few friends who were boys. A few had crushes on her, and she talked frankly with them about what they could expect from her. . .friendship. And she also met her husband at that time, and clearly by the time she was 15 he was interested in her, and when she was 16 and he was 21 they officially became a couple.

    On the other hand, her friendships with girls were full. of. drama. She was popular and everyone wanted her to be their *best* friend. She tried to keep friendships centered on Christ. As time has gone on, about half those friends went their own way, and about half of them have become treasured close friends who have been that “three-fold cord not easily broken” as they have gone on through the trials and joys of life together.

  7. Oh, give those young ladies high fives.


    If I could have those years back……I would do just about everything differently. But….moving forward now and doing all I can to help my kids make sound and wise choices. Help us, Lord.

    Good word.

    Kate 🙂

  8. I had a boyfriend for two years in high school. My daughter ‘stayed single’ 🙂 I think that she was the happier of the two of us and a lot wiser. When I asked God for a daughter he blessed me with her. She has went above and beyond what I had ever dreamed of.
    Both of us still have girlfriends from high school but she stays in touch with hers more often.
    I agree with what you are saying. I think friendship in high school is best.

  9. My daughter is 15 and hasn’t a serious boyfriend for 4 years, a few short term boyfriends but not even that for almost 2 years. Some days she so desperately wants the companionship, someone to cuddle and watch movies with and then other days she realizes what she is looking for really isn’t out there for her yet. She is confidence in herself. She is very modest and she is very adamant that she will not “give herself” to any boy until she has been with them a very long time (in her mind that is about a year) and if they can’t wait for that, then she doesn’t want to do that with them anyway. She really is a beautiful girl inside and out. She could get a lot of guys, she goes to a very large high school but I am so blessed to see her not compromise her strong convictions of saving herself for someone that is “worthy”… I”m also thankful that she is so open with me about everything, especially the “relationship” stuff. Good story, I will share this with her, she will really enjoy it. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    ~ Diane

  10. I was that girl…two dates while in high school, never a serious boyfriend…I met the love of my life through a mutual friend January 31 of this year, and we married just two weeks ago…September 14! Hundreds of friends gathered with us to celebrate God’s faithfulness!! God answered decades of prayer and waiting and tears and rejoicing..last year, I had almost given up all hope that God would bring me His man for me! And then God gave me an “And suddenly” moment! At 38 years of age, I can tell you with great conviction IT IS WORTH THE WAIT!

  11. Yes, yes, and YES!! As a mom to three girls who have not yet dated that much, I know that pain and loneliness that can sometimes bring. But I also know that God is sparing them from the pain and anguish of being in a relationship that is not good for them, and for that I am thankful. It’s hard to convey this to a teenager whose friends are all going to the Homecoming dance next weekend and she isn’t, but one day she will look back and realize that most of those people won’t end up together and the dance isn’t as much fun as it seems.

    And here’s one more thing God may be sparing these girls from. Even though I didn’t date much in high school, I really, really wanted to, so I asked a boy to the Turn About dance one year. I had had a huge crush on this boy all through high school–he was a senior; I was a junior–and I finally got the courage to ask him to the dance. He said yes!!! And then, about a week or two before the dance, he sent me a note basically telling me that he had gotten a better offer and wouldn’t be going to the dance with me. Yep. I was crushed. I cried for days and felt like the biggest loser ever to walk the halls of my high school. I have looked back and realized that God was sparing me, and today I am so glad I didn’t date much before I met my husband.

  12. I had a steady boyfriend in high school, but I still retained friendships with my girlfriends. While I don’t regret dating in high school, I do regret getting as serious as I did. I think I was drawn to him because love and attention in my house were very thin. It felt amazing to have someone there for me during all the drama with my family. But that’s the wrong reason for dating and we crashed and burned once we graduated from high school. My high school friends tell me, even forty years later, I had such a phenomenal high school experience because I was dating! They missed not dating, believe it or not, and that seemed to define their opinion of high school. Years later, though, after college and into my career, I made the decision to stop dating for a while – to regroup, work on myself, strengthen my relationship with God. But God can’t be tamed and during my sabbatical from dating, I met a wonderful man. We didn’t date for two years; just were friends. By building a great friendship before we dated, we now have a lovely marriage of 24 years. As Robin so profoundly stated, I do feel building strong community with your girlfriends at any stage in life should be, must be a priority.

  13. I would have loved to hear this as a teen or 20-something, while I was busy making the same counter-cultural choice. It’s still kind of aw-shucks encouraging to hear now that I’m 33 and married (to the first man I actually dated, though not the first I fell in love with).

    But making a counter-cultural choice can bring its own baggage. The church (at least the part I grew up in) put so much emphasis on avoiding heartache and avoiding sexual sin that although I did my best to be a thoughtful celibate woman in Christ, I didn’t found community that would allow me to be honest about what that was like until after I was already married. I craved honesty about sexual desire and about emotional desire, about how to love others without cutting my soul into shreds in my efforts to serve and please them, about how to love and accept my body because Christ does.

    I don’t regret making my choices. But I do regret the amount of years I spent in fear, unsure of who I was or could be, unsure of what part of myself might make me dangerous or sinful. I would tell my counter-cultural sisters to try to choose what leads to love and connection rather than fear or disconnection, to be honest with (rather than judgmental of) each others’ particular struggles and longings, and not be afraid to prepare to embrace what they’ve set aside when the time comes for them welcome it. 🙂

    In other words, Christ can help us make wonderful counter-to-the-world’s-culture choices, but I’ve discovered that there’s a place for the world to help us make counter-to-fearful-church choices as well. Both are good, and each person may need more of one than the other.

  14. Much to the chagrin of my friends who did not understand, I raised my daughter to be abstinate until marriage and she did not date, but courted, and did not find her husband until she was 29. I remember her asking me a few months before she met him, should she lower her standards? I told her absolutely not, God would never want her to do that. I questioned my answer to her in my heart as I wondered if there were any men left out there in society who would be worthy of her love. Would she get to be 40 and still be looking? Would she hate me for telling her to wait for God to bring the love of her life? I took that chance, and relied on a prayer I heard from Josh McDowell that was pasted in my Bible that asked God to please bless my “meager efforts” and make them His. Needless to say, God still answers prayer. She met the love of her life, although she went through a very depressing time and was even looking at houses to purchase on her own if she was being called to be single, and they met and married within 5 months. She had never kissed another man or dated anyone else until she met her husband. I can say without any reservation at all, and I am a very overly watchful mom, that she met the man that God had for her all along. It was definitely worth the wait. They both put God first and have purity in their marriage. Long story short, Hurray for the God who cherishes the faithful prayers of us mommies out there and still takes excellent care of His own.

  15. Oh what a change has come about since I was in school! I had friends who were girls and friends who were boys. I dated boys, but never went steady. I has crushes, but the boys never knew. After I graduated and had a job, I dated one young man who turned out to be quite a liar and tried to take advantage of me. He came close to first base, but was called out. He was handsome and charming, but his morals were lacking. We stalked me when we broke up.
    Fast forward to some of my grandchildren: one sexually active at twelve, first baby at sixteen, has lived with the divorced father of her second child for about 2 years, and sees nothing wrong with it. Her 16 year-old brother impregnated a 15 yo girl. They have a daughter, and he is in prison for multiple felonies. He and his next girlfriend were drug users and thieves. Another granddaughter in a different family had a child out of wedlock, and married the father afterward. A grandson old enough to know better is living with a married woman who has several children, not his. One grandson put marriage and children in the proper order. Another is in the Air Force, is rising in rank steadily, and as far as I know from several states away, and is morally fine.

  16. Sweet friend… It has become by challenge (joy) to pick out your writing when I get encourage. I must say, I have gotten so good at it. I LOVE your heart, Robin. You make me laugh and sometimes cry, every good southern girls desire when reading. Mostly, you encourage me, and for that, I am so very grateful. These are wise words, girl. Xo

  17. What an awesome lesson! I definitely know that I would like to go back and change some things about high school, but not necessarily go through everything that puberty brings on. 🙂

    Since I grew up with all sisters, I never understood anything about boys and how they think. There was one boyfriend in high school (with whom I experienced the on/off again pain) and a one-time date with a Mormon. I was a good Baptist girl. The Lord protected me by making sure that I was out of the house every time the Mormon guy called back. My Mom told me years later that she never told me about his calls. Praise the Lord! While I loved the Lord with all my high school girl heart, had devotions, etc., the reason I dated the Mormon was that I felt so desperate to have a boyfriend. If I had a boyfriend, I would have been “cool.” Oh, that I had spent that time and desire focusing more on the Lord. The idea of not dating in high school and, instead, focusing on friends is a much better idea.

    After being saved at the age of 7, the Lord has kept me close to Himself, in spite of some choices that I have made. High school, even college, girls reading this comment, make it your priority pleasing the Lord, rather than focusing on getting a boyfriend or husband. He has a plan for you (Jeremiah 9:11) and if and when He has a partner for you, don’t settle for less than He has in mind for you by jumping into a relationship into which God has not clearly led you.

    God bless you, my new friends!

  18. Oh, man, if I had had the emotional maturity of your girl & her friends! I was the quintessential ugly duckling in high school. I had two very good friends, one of whom had lots of dates/boyfriends; the other one was like me.
    I met my (now) husband just before my senior H.S. year, and we dated for over 2 years, then broke up. (And God’s plan always works out – we’ve had 4 wonderful kids in 27 years of marriage) By not focusing on “boys” in H. S., I was able to focus on school – hello!
    I’m sure that you tell your daughter all the time how wise she is – I think she gets it from you!

  19. I didn’t date anyone in high school- no one ever asked me! I personalized this and thought I wasn’t pretty enough to attract a boy. However I wasn’t all that interested either. I became a Christian at 15 and that made a big impact on my teen years. I made some bad choices in my marriage that I regret today, but I try to do as the apostle Paul says, and move forward. I applaud your daughter and her friends for sticking to their convictions. I am raising two sons, 11 and 9. I pray daily that God will bless them with wives who committed themselves to purity before marriage and I pray the same for my boys. Great article!

  20. I love this so much. I never dated anyone in high school or college. I didn’t want to have the drama and heartache so many I knew had. I didn’t want to repeat the vicious cycle of divorce and dysfunction in my family.

    I prayed for God to save me for one man, no matter how long it took and no matter how often I fought him on it.

    And he did. When I was 28 years old, I met my fiance. He was my first kiss and will be my first everything.

    God came through. He not only answered my prayer about saving me for the right man; during my prolonged season of singleness, He developed ME into the right person not only for John but for myself and for Him.

    It was tough at times to wait, but it was so, so, so worth it.

  21. Robin,
    Thank you for this. I do wish I could go back and tell my silly teenage self a few wise words…oh but I cannot do that! I can however guide and direct my daughters to follow the Lord’s leading and direction. This parenting thing — this parenting two beautiful daughters thing–. IT.IS.HARD. but it is also a joy, privilege, and blessing. I bookmarked this post so that I have it close by in the near future when my oldest gets wandering eyes.

  22. Thank you for reassurance that choices made so long ago were appropriate! My high school years were hard as I struggled without close friendships of either age. As I went to college, I began to learn how to make friends and I still treasure some of those friendships in spite of the years that have gone by. At 77 some of those memories are still vivid.

  23. The Lord gave me the verse Ecclesiastes 4:12 sometime in 2010. This same verse came up again twice this month (via a sermon on the radio and through this article). Coincidence? No. God is blatantly telling/reminding me something. Robin, I love the words of wisdom in this article and I love reading the comments. I realized it is true, as I’ve read in the comments, God always “spares” us from relationships that are not His will & from a person (significant other) not ordained for us. Even at times, our choice and want (for a significant other) are nipped in the bud and causes great disappoint, some moments of depression, and desperation– God is sparing! It reminds me of Isaiah 55:8-9: “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’” says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.’ Truly, it is better to wait on the Lord.” I enjoy the friendships with the people God has encountered for me to have– with both women and men. I’m still praying for the person God has ordained for me: The true man of God and the one places Matthew 6:33 in his heart.

  24. I absolutely love this letter. Such a refreshing and encouraging thing to read.

    I’m 24 and have never dated. Believe me when I say that some days I absolutely love this and other days I completely despise it. But, for all the reasons you listed, I’m glad that I didn’t. I have no idea how to date, so if that does ever become are part of my life, it’s going to be real funny to watch. ha

    I now have some high school girls in my life that are so important to me. And they are experiencing dating and all that comes with it. Even though I have no experience when it comes to dating, I’ve had some good (and not so good) friendships with guys that help guide me along. I can only use that when it comes to giving advice. And the only thing I want to give them is useful and Godly advice that will help guide them along through high school.

    And whenever I teach them, they teach me something that continues to help me. Even in my mid-20s.

    Great post! Thank you for it!

    • Jess,

      I didn’t really start dating till around 36 or so and then only occasionally. I prayed for a Godly mate and 3 years later God sent me the most wonderful loving hubby a gal could want.

      We hit it off, because we started out and still are best friends. Don’t worry about dating. Let God handle that and when time is right God will send someone your way.

      In the mean time–as a single person you have ample time to do local missions and help others.

  25. I had a boyfriend, friend ever since I can remember when I was a child. Then I had one at eleven years old. I think he was fourteen. He left for Canada very soon after. When we happened to meet in my thirties it was nice. In Secondary School, I had boyfriend friends. It was nice. The boys were …. always wanting me to be their girlfriend.

    We were in big groups though. Mixed groups. So many of us.

    School was like Summer Camp.

    Once when I was fifteen this one guy really liked me. But my friend Carol really liked him. And he just came for me like ……. but I just did not go out with him cos my friend Carol had this big crush on him. So, finally he relented and went out with Carol. So, my friendship with Carol, remained.

    I do not know a no boyfriend feeling. I married young and had two kids young. My kids looked like my brothers really cos I looked very young for my age. 🙂

    Three Times A Lady. I suppose I was married then. It was a nice song. Love love songs.

    Killing Me Softly With His Song – was our 1973 song 🙂

  26. I was so blessed to have 3 close friends all through school. We dated boys only a little, like homecoming and prom. Our friendship has endured, though many miles separate us. Our friendship was strong and lasting because of our faith in Christ, and we have been there for each other through the years, 43 since high school, encouraging each other through trying times, and sharing in each other’s joys. I have been blessed with great friends in other locations as I’ve moved, and the most enduring ones are those where Jesus is in our midst. I am blessed!

  27. Great great post Robin. You nailed it!! There is too much emphases on dating and being in a relationship these days. The teen years are for forming good long- lasting friendships.

    The Junior, High school and college years could be spent forming super bonded friends and making an impact on the lives of others.

    I was super shy in high school and through out my 20s and 30s. Didn’t date at all till I was 36 or so and then just occasionally. I used the time in between to do local missions.

  28. this is so timely for me…
    i met you years ago at the incourage party at blissdom. {oh. and i stalk you on instagram :)} i’ve started a project w women in my community to empower girls, and it includes a blog. i’ve just pinned this article to our boards, which we refer to for references for our readers. excellent post. in fact. i’m going to have my daughter read it.

  29. As an adult who is one of the “never has …” girls, thank you for the affirmation. This is just what I needed.

  30. Ah…If we could go back and know then what we know now would had spared me a few difficult moments. However I believe that God gives us these hard times so that we may learn to become the person we were meant to be.

    I totally understand this..Wished I too would had invested in true friendship instead. Thanks so much for this…..