Why is it that dating seems so complicated these days? For some people, the word alone brings a sense of anxiety.
While I’ll be the first to admit we live in a culture that has blurred the lines of what dating actually looks like, the truth is that even though the definition of dating may have changed over the years, deep down, dating is what it is:
An opportunity to get to know the opposite sex, with the hopes of finding someone to marry.
When you peel back all the layers, it’s really that simple.
In my book, True Love Dates, I try to focus less on how you define “dating” and more on what you do when you date, because I believe that what we do is more powerful than any definition we could muster. With that in mind, here are a few simple rules to help you navigate the dating game:
Take time for friendship. I can’t tell you how many people skip over this very important phase. In True Love Dates, I dub the friendship stage as one of the most important preludes to a healthy dating relationship. Because it’s in that friendship stage that you can learn so much about a person without the strings of commitment or physical intimacy clouding your perspective. Get to know people of the opposite sex in this casual and important way, and if you like what you say, then by all means, take it to the next level.
Know the difference between your wants and needs. Blonde hair blue eyes may be your “type”, but is it really what makes it or breaks it when it comes to finding a life partner? We’re all going to be gray eventually, right? In all seriousness, I think a huge problem our culture is facing is that we’ve totally confused the majors and the minors when it comes to establishing a relationship. We focus in on things that don’t really matter when it comes to establishing a healthy relationship and marriage, and then settle in the areas that do matter. Know the difference between majors and minors when it comes to a dating relationship.
Keep your eyes open for red flags. In True Love Dates, I spend some time talking about Red, Green, and Yellow flags in a relationship. Red flags always mean one thing: STOP. Things like dishonesty, addictions, violence, co-dependency, abuse, and the like are things that CANNOT be ignored. So many times we go into relationships and ignore the red flags because we allow our feelings to lead the way rather than our God-given wisdom.
Make sure it’s give-and-take. I blog a lot about the dangers of a one-sided relationships, because I believe that God calls us into relationships that are give-and-take. The very definition of a “relationship” implies a mutual experience, with two people who are giving, loving, and investing in a shared experience. When it comes to dating, be on the lookout for a relationship that is reciprocal, one in which you are investing, but also getting something in return.
Take it one step at a time. In all my years as a Professional Counselor, I’ve never heard a couple tell me they wish they would have moved faster. The only regret I hear is the exact opposite, relationships that progressed too deep, too soon, without letting time take it’s course. There’s a lot of wisdom in the passage of Scripture that reminds us: “Do not arouse or awaken love until the right time…”, because at the end of the day, timing is everything. (Learn more about the four stages of dating in Chapter 6 of True Love Dates).
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
1. Are you ready for Love? Take my FREE Quiz right now to find out!
2. Want to learn how to date in a healthy way that will help you find and keep love? Check out True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life! Plus, read the Top 25 Dating Questions of All-Time answered in Section 4!!
3. The #1 Mistake singles reported making last year was not taking a risk to start a relationship! Why do Christians tend to be so passive when it comes to relationships? Check out the the top lessons I’ve learned in my career as a Relationship Counselor, and totally change your love-life in 21 Days! Learn more: 21-Day Program to Jump Start Your Love-Life!