What would you change if you could go back in time?
I’m sure we’ve all thought through that question at some point or another. For me in particular, the whole area of love and relationships is one that I wish I could go back and “tweak”. There is much I wish I would have known, much I wish I could have done differently, so many lies I wish I wouldn’t have believed. But I can’t go back- and you know what, that’s okay.
Because through the process of finding love I’ve learned a lot. My eyes have been opened to a lot of the beliefs that hindered me through my dating years and through that process have been able to encourage others. The following myths have done a lot of harm in the lives of many young adults: mine included.
1. If you’re too picky you’ll never get married: A while back (and I’m talking…a long while back), I had a dozen roses shipped to my house by a guy who had taken an interest in me. Not sure if it was my frizzy hair or bad make-up that attracted him (you ever look back at those pictures and wonder how you ever walked out of the house looking like that?) Anyway, it was a sweet gesture from a decent young man, but to be frank, I wasn’t interested. Thankfully, I was at a healthy place in life and it didn’t take long for me to know that he wasn’t the right fit for me. So, rather than prolong the whole thing, I told him where I was at.
I’ll never forget that day, because at the end of the conversation he made sure to tell me that I would be an “old maid” some day with how picky I was about dating. Now granted, he may have spoken out of his disappointment, but the truth is, he isn’t the first person who said that to me during my dating years. I can count numerous men and women who have uttered those words in my presence, whether geared toward me or someone I know. People I love and trusted, who really believed that you could miss out on marriage by being too choosy. Seriously? Since when is taking the time to make the biggest decision you will ever make in your life considered picky?
Looking back, they were ALL wrong- and I’m thankful I stuck to what I believed in my heart. I am so glad I didn’t settle and waited for God to send me the man- who is not perfect, but perfect for me. He’s the right fit, and I knew it in my heart more and more each day as we dated. It was natural, it was easy, it was for real. Don’t let yourself believe this lie, and trust your heart (and spirit!). Because marriage is a decision you live with for the rest of your life.
2. You should always, ever, only date to marry: I used to be a firm believer of this. You know, the days of reading books about “courtship” and “kissing dating goodbye” and not interacting with someone until you absolutely know that they’re the one. But, eventually, my misinterpretation of these concepts got me in a lot trouble.
There was a season in my life that I really looked down on the concept of “dating around” as they called it- and thought that if I was going to date someone, I better be pretty darn sure I was going to marry them in the end. Because ultimately, that’s the goal, right? But here’s the thing- life isn’t always so cut and dry. Sometimes, things just don’t work out and have to come to and end. And sometimes, ending those things is the best decision a person could have ever made.
While I would have (and still do) agree that dating is a stepping stone to marriage, deep down, the fear of failing in a relationship was actually what was driving me in how I interacted with the opposite sex. I didn’t want to fail God, to fail others, or to fail in my Christian walk. And the fear of failure can be a very paralyzing thing. For me, it paralyzed me into staying in a relationship that I knew wasn’t right for me for far too long. Just because I was afraid to fail. Just because I was afraid of playing the “dating game”.
Looking back now, I see failure after failure in my relationship history. But I still see God’s hand all over my past. He comforted me, guided me, stretched me, and taught me more than I realized then. So even when relationships don’t work out in the end, it’s not simply failure or wasted time. Sometimes, it’s freedom into a future that’s far beyond your scope in the here and now.
Because nothing – absolutely nothing- is ever wasted in the hands of the Creator.
3. All the “good ones” are already taken: Some people fall on the totally opposite end of being “too picky”. I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to interact with men and women dating some pretty unqualified (that’s a gracious understatement) individuals…all because they think it’s the best they can get.
People tend to end up with someone who they believe they deserve-and sadly, for some people, their view of themselves causes them to think they deserve very little.
I look back at some of the people I invested in, and see a sad reflection of the view I had of myself. I’m thankful that God slowly transformed that view, allowing me to believe I deserve- not just good, but God’s best.
Change your beliefs about yourself–and then wait for the best.
4. Getting into a dating relationship will “ruin” your friendship: This phrase is used to often in the dating world, but now that I’m married, I don’t even really know what that means or how this myth has stuck around for so long. Here are some thoughts I have about this phrase:
You’re supposed to marry your best friend. Someone you connect with deeply on an emotional, spiritual, social and physical level. A friend who you can laugh with, talk to til 4am, and cry with, but also have the freedom to do absolutely nothing with. If you have that with someone of the opposite sex, maybe the friendship is the first step of something bigger. That’s the best case scenario.
Worst case scenario, a friendship doesn’t ever blossom into the stage of romantic feelings and the friendship changes. In my opinion, that’s still a okay!
When I got married, the friendships I had with the opposite sex changed drastically anyway. When John became my priority, I had to guard my marriage by setting up boundaries with guys and distancing myself in different ways. They were no longer carrying the role they used to carry, because they were not my husband. He was the only man that was to carry certain roles in my life. So like it or not, your friendships with the opposite sex will always change, either now, or later when you meet your mate.
The deep friendship you have with your spouse should never be shared with someone else. If your friendship changes now…it’s less you have to deal with later.
5. Marriage will solve your dating problems: I meet people all the time who think the issues and arguments that keep tripping them up in dating will magically disappear when they are married.
But for some reason this rule is never applied to other things in life. Things are what they are, and we expect them to stay that way. “It is what it is” has never been more accurate than it is in the world of dating.
When I meet with couples in marriage counseling, so much of the time the things that they are dealing with, the traits are driving them crazy, and the habits that they can’t seem to get control of – are things that began to take root in their dating years, but they chose to ignore. Fast forward 5, 10, 15 years and these things are magnified more than ever. Marriage is the pressure cooker that brings them to the surface.
Don’t rush marriage as the resolution, but seek to find the solutions in your dating relationship- if a solution is to be found, it will be there. Because at the end of the day, “it is what it is”. So make sure it’s really, really good.
Dating is an incredible stage to get to know yourself better and to experience relationships with others in hopes of finding true love. Don’t let these crazy myths hold you back, but strive to achieve a healthy perspective. Trust God first and then trust what He’s placed in your heart. The truth will be right around the corner.
1. Do you want to get healthy? Do you need help is achieving that healthy perspective! Whether you are single, engaged or married you can book an online session today through the Debra Fileta Counselors Network! https://debrafileta.com/counseling/
2. Want the nitty-gritty details of Debra’s love story? Curious as to how you’ll recognize a healthy relationship in your own life? Check out her book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life! Plus, get the Top 25 Dating Questions of All-Time answered in Section 4!!
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Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in dating, marriage, and relationship issues, along with a spectrum of mental health disorders and issues. She’s the author of True Love Dates, Choosing Marriage, Love in Every Season, Are You Really Ok?, and Married Sex. She’s also the host of the Love + Relationships Podcast, a hotline-style show where people call in to get their relationship questions answered!