So as I mentioned in my previous post Dating, Marriage, and Sex: Part One- What to look for when looking for marriage, I’m currently working on a series inspired from Ben Stuart’s Sex and Dating series. I previously wrote on a general guideline of what to look for when dating. I am not a fan of checklists by any means; I have actually found that the more I date, the more I realize I have no clue what I want or need in a relationship. I’m thankful God knows me better than I know myself and that I don’t have the burden of that decision. But those guidelines serve as a reminder of foundational things that will remind you of what matters when our emotions may try to get the best of us.
For this post, I want to focus on general principles to consider when you actually begin dating someone you are interested in. I think sometimes we might get excited about someone or jump right in that we forget our whole purpose and intent behind our dating in the first place. Once again, I won’t say these must be followed to a tee or else you are doomed for failure but I do think that by keeping these ideas in mind, you can save yourself a lot of heartache, use your time more wisely, and prevent yourself from getting hurt and hurting others.
1) Date with clarity. Be intentional. Be purposeful. COMMUNICATE. I cannot stress this one enough. We often hear that communication is one of the top attributes to look for in the opposite sex. But what does that even mean? I think we use the word so often that we forget its value. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is not all about these games that we either intentionally or unintentionally play- you’re in control if you care less, it’s their turn to text, I want him to know I like him but I don’t want to appear desperate and the list goes on and on. STOP IT. It’s not healthy and it’s not right.
I see so many relationships that are gray and leave people guessing. How better would we all be if we could just be honest about our feelings with each other? We need to stop leading people on and we need to stop playing with people’s hearts. They are valuable and they are sacred. Be clear with how you feel. If you are only looking for a friendship, say that. If you don’t know what you want, you may need to figure that out on your own rather than at the expense of other people’s hearts.
I’m as independent as they come, but I am a firm believer in the guy being very clear with their actions and intentions. If the guy will be leading our family and home one day, he needs to be able to lead in our relationship. When things are left to chance and guessing, it’s a breeding ground for insecurities.
Guys: If you are interested in a girl, tell her. If you don’t see her that way, tell her. If you are spending a lot of time talking to her, especially about spiritual stuff, she is going to think you are interested in her. She shouldn’t have to guess what your guys’ relationship is.
Girls: Be patient. We also tend to jump the gun and try to initiate things but it’s important that we encourage men to be men. But don’t play hard to get either; you can let them know you are interested but don’t rush things. Patience is a virtue;-)
Oh and this whole asking each other’s friends what’s up thing has got to stop. Talk to each other about your honest feelings. If this is done appropriately with open communication from the beginning, a lot of pain and wasted time can be avoided. We have to remember that we will meet lots of awesome people but we will only marry one. Keep it in perspective. Just because someone is wrong for you, doesn’t mean they are a bad person. Be open to healthy friendships with brothers and sisters in Christ.
2) Date with autonomy. Leading off of the whole brothers and sisters in Christ thing, we must remember that is what we are with each other until we are married. We need to respect one another and love one another with Christ’s love. While dating, both people need to have the freedom to make their own choices- YOU ARE NOT MARRIED YET SO STOP ACTING LIKE IT. Sorry, this one really gets me. Dating is a time to see if you are right for each other so you need to be free to go where God is calling you. It is a very scary thing if you start ignoring God for the sake of who you are dating.
Now, I am not saying be selfish here by any means but you need to have the freedom to make your own decisions. You are not married to the person yet. You cannot force the other person to do anything. If you are already finding yourself changing (and not for the better) because of the relationship, you need to seriously evaluate if this is what you want for the rest of your life. Too many people act like they are already bonded to the person before marriage but you aren’t. Side note, another reason to leave sex out of it. Remember- married people will do married people things- you aren’t there yet.
3) Date with purity. Nothing clouds your vision quite like your hormones do. I cannot tell you how many relationships I’ve seen that only lasted as long as they did because of sex or physical intimacy. This is no joke and it disgusts me how our culture today is doing everything it can to make us believe that you can separate sex and it just be physical. It’s never just physical. I promise you that. Unless you have no heart and are a robot, physical intimacy creates an indescribable bond between two people. If this wasn’t the case, sexual molestation and rape would be things we can just get over as we would if someone punched us in the face but it’s not the same. It has an effect on us in more ways than we know. The point is, it is there and we can’t just lie to ourselves and pretend it isn’t for temporary feelings of satisfaction.
The more your relationship grows in Christ, the more you realize why God tells us to save that special kind of intimacy with our spouse. Putting off the physical aspects in a relationship is beneficial in so many ways. This is potentially someone else’s spouse and you must remember that. If you leave the physical aspects out, I would say you have a greater chance of being friends in the event it doesn’t work out. One of the best reasons I appreciate and value about leaving the physical stuff out is the fact that it allows me to see if I really like the person for who they are. And ultimately, that is what matters most.
You hear so many people say they want a best friend, yet their actions show otherwise. In order to make sure the friendship is there, you have to leave the physical stuff out of it for awhile otherwise it may just be physical attraction binding the two of you. And as I already mentioned, that physical bond is tight and strong but it’s not healthy if that’s all there is. It’s dangerous and damaging. I have many friends that are having issues getting over their exes and I firmly believe the physical relationship is what is hindering the healing process the most.
Save your body for your spouse. It’s such a precious and priceless gift. I can’t wait to give that gift to my husband someday. He is so worth the wait.
4) Date with wisdom. In some ways this ties to dating with purity. God gave us the desire to want to have sex so I’m not going to pretend it’s not there. However, he did intend for it to be shared between a husband and wife. Therefore, I believe it’s our job to be wise and not put ourselves in situations that would be too tempting. This will look different for each of us. You may need to find ways to be private in public. If you are going to date alone, do it in public. This is especially true for younger people who are dating, in my opinion. Don’t expedite the romance and put yourself in a situation that may be too big for you to handle.
Be wise. We all know where our weakness is. For me, it’s the unknown and going along with however the guy is leading and I know this. Therefore, I tend to be upfront in where I stand in the beginning in regards to the physical aspects of a relationship to avoid any confusion, hurt, or misplaced rejection. I don’t believe in kissing early on in the relationship. For me, it would be easy for that to lead to other things, as well as already makes me emotionally attached so I typically am upfront about my thoughts on that and explain why. There are no expectations and it allows us to have a great time and really get to know each other.
5) Date with community. Have others watch the relationship. Make sure you have an accountability partner so you can stay on track. Dating can be hard and tough and confusing. You need someone objective watching. When we are attracted to someone, it is easy for us to go down the path of making excuses for them.
6) Date with patience. I cannot stress this enough. It’s okay to look toward the future and start seeing whether or not you could spend the rest of your life with someone based on your relationship. We all do it. But why do we live in such an instant gratification society? Don’t rush forever. Don’t rush each other. And don’t place too much pressure on each other either. I’m not saying allow yourself to be used but it takes a long time to really get to know someone. Be patient. Enjoy each other. Laugh. Have deep talks. Socialize in groups. Work on projects together. Time always tells. You’ll either grow closer together or further apart.
7) Date with perspective. While who you marry is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your life, it’s not the most important. God has a plan for your life. Pray and trust Him. We were created for something bigger than our marriage. Each one of us has a unique purpose. Focus on God and your passions, He’ll take care of the rest if you let Him. God has a perfect plan for your life- do you trust Him?
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” –Psalm 37:4
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” –Matthew 6:33
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11