I get this question a lot.
Sometimes I don't know exactly how to answer.
Sometimes I think of the first day I met Christian (see this post).
Sometimes I think of the first dance we went to together when I was fifteen.
Sometimes I answer by telling about when we became "official" as a couple once we both graduated from high school.
Most of all, I smile when I think of our friendship over all these years. First, before we fell in love or we dated, we were buddies. It happened like this.
When we could (finally) drive, we would
Christian likes to say that he took every opportunity to take me to dances and events through high school. He really did. Going to these special events were, well, special. It was a fun time for me to dress up and be the date of a handsome guy, but it didn't really mean anymore than that. That doesn't sound very romantic, but it took the pressure off. Christian never once made me feel like we had to define our relationship or anything. In fact, that didn't happen until years later, but that is a story for another day.
For Christmas 2009, we exchanged gifts with each other. We were still "just friends" at this point. I got permission from both sets of parents to buy Casting Crowns concert tickets to give Christian. We both enjoy Christian music and I knew it would be a great gift. Why did I have to get permission for going to a Christian concert you ask? Well, I was basically indirectly asking if we could go on a date. On our own.
Once we were in a relationship and going out on our own we appreciated it so much. It was SO different from having to be with family all the time. We actually got to talk! Today, we often remember and are thankful for that season when we were able to build our relationship in a comfortable context among family and friends with plenty of accountability. Because of all this, the transition from being just friends to a serious relationship was natural and the timing was right. Our families approved, but they began to realize that once Christian and I began to go out on our own, they hardly ever saw each other! At one point my mom asked one of Christian's brothers, "Jon, are we still dating?" It was never just Christian and I dating, it was our families too!