Dear 100 Hour Board,
Dating question alert! I have a friend of the opposite sex who lives in a different state. We met at a summer camp a few years ago, then went our separate ways and kept in touch through text and social media. At first I think we had a mutual romantic interest, but after a while I realized that a) I was too young and not mature enough to be in a relationship, and b) I also didn't want to commit to a long distance relationship. But, I know that his feelings for me have been/still are stronger than my feelings for him. I don't want to hurt him, and I really do enjoy our friendship, but I'm not looking to be in a relationship.
With this in mind, the next part probably sounds pretty bad. Last spring, I had the opportunity to see him again, and we went on a date. We both enjoyed it. But, he kissed me on the cheek, and that's the closest thing to my first kiss. Maybe I was leading him on, because at this point I had already decided that I wanted to be friends with him, but it happened. I've been on dates with other guys, and holding hands is pretty much the farthest I've gone except with him.
Anyways, he has his mission call now, and I'm planning on making a trip to see him again before he leaves next month. So, here's my question: What's appropriate before he leaves on a mission? How do I define the relationship?
First off, I have great respect that you're aware of the challenges and disadvantages of dating at an early age and being in a long-distance relationship! I know many people who wouldn't think it through like you did and get into tricky situations.
I would imagine things will be easier for you now that he's leaving on a mission. It's highly unlikely he would say, "I know we never expressed our feelings and only went on one date, but I'm going to be gone for the next two years and I want you to wait for me!" Odds are you won't even be asked to define the relationship. If he presses, just remind him that he'll be gone for two whole years and, while you want to keep in contact, you won't put your life on hold for him. When it comes to what's appropriate, I would leave it at hugging him. If he tries for more (which I doubt he would, because he sounds like a decent guy), remind him once again that he'll be gone for two years and you don't want to start anything now. Tell him when he gets back you can determine where you two stand, but for now you just want to be a supportive friend. If necessary, you can always add in the "I don't want to distract you" and "you need to be 100% committed to the Lord and the mission." Those are pretty effective when it comes to future missionaries.
Hopefully everything goes well during your visit!
-guppy of doom