Dear Christian Single,
I get it. Dating seems complicated. You flood my inbox every day with a list of your seriously legitimate (well…mostly) questions.
How do I know if this is the one?
Is there even such thing as “the one”?
Does God want me to be single?
Is (insert name of your significant other) right for me?
Should I ask him out or is that too forward?
Which is better- dating or courtship?
I read your questions, and I feel your struggle. Trust me, there was time in my life when I was just as confused as anyone else (confused…and maybe even borderline relationship-cray-cray). I had no idea what to believe or where to start. And so I empathize with you, because part of the problem has nothing to do with you- and everything to do with the culture we’ve created around dating and relationships in general.
The “Christian culture” has done quite a number on this topic, hasn’t it?
We’ve complicated it. We’ve added a ton of rules, and sprinkled them with even more rules. We’ve taken preferences, and claimed that they were “the godly way” to do things. We’ve camped out on opposite sides of the playing field: kissing dating goodbye, and then wanting it back. And we’ve taken all the fun out of it…but most of all, we’ve take God out of it, too.
As a relationship therapist, I’ve been immersed in the world of relationships over the past few years. So, I want to throw some thoughts and observations out there that I’ve found helpful in simplifying this topic and how to approach it as a Christian.
PS. And please…don’t find any assurance in the fact that this article starts with the number 7 (for you super-Christians out there, you know that the number 7 symbolizes perfection or completion in Scripture). That was pretty much a coincidence, and holds no value to the credibility of this post. Seriously. None. But it does make me smile 🙂
1. Remember that there is no such thing as “Christian dating”, only Christians who date: One of the most confusing things we can do for ourselves is to categorize things by the Christian subtitle. The word Christian is not an adjective used to describe media, or clothing, or music- it’s a group of people. People who are committed to living a life that is infused with God’s love. When it comes to dating, it would do us well to see it as an avenue toward getting to know God’s people as we pursue God’s big picture for our lives. Just like anything else we do in this life, dating is also a way that we can reflect Him to the people we come into contact with. Let’s take the pressure off and see it as just that.
2. Don’t take it too seriously: Now that we’ve put aside the concept of “Christian dating”, we should probably also put aside the notion that dating must equal marriage. Talk about some serious pressure, people!!! If we only go on dates based on our perception that a person has to have the qualities of our life-long partner, very few people would ever actually go on a date. It’s important to have an idea of what you’re looking for in a spouse, but let’s be honest- there’s very little that can be learned about someone outside a significant interaction of some sort. For some (and like I suggest in True Love Dates) that can be accomplished through the development of a friendship, but it eventually requires the next step in the form of an actual date. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to know if they’re “the one” before committing to dinner and a movie. Let’s not take this so seriously, amen?
3. Don’t take it too lightly: I know it sounds like I’m about to contradict myself, but bear with me. I hold firm to the fact that you don’t need a commitment toward marriage from date number 1, but I also believe that you should do yourself a favor by not taking dating too lightly, either. You should always hold to a set of personal values and beliefs that you are unwilling to compromise when it comes to getting to know someone. Instead of just treating dates with the randomness of the lottery, always know what you’re looking for, and what you want to avoid. If you know something is a dead end from the start, don’t bother going down that path. Your time and emotional energy is valuable, so decrease your risks by investing into relationships that will build you up and challenge you no matter what the outcome.
4. Be Yourself: No-brainer. But really, it has to be said. There are far too many people out there trying to be someone they are not- or even worse- unaware of who they actually are. In order to be yourself, you have to know yourself. Take the time to really get to the heart of who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going- and give others the respect they deserve by displaying authenticity in your interactions.
5. Enjoy your Time: How easy is it to get so hung up on this dating stuff that it becomes more stressful than enjoyable? Getting to know people should be a rewarding time of learning about others. It’s a chance to get a glimpse of God in the people that He’s made. There’s something really grand about that! Look for Him at work in your interactions with others, and have a good time.
6. Leave with No Regrets: The easiest way to live a life of little regret is to make good choices. When it comes to dating, it’s important to see it as an opportunity for good choices to be made- rather than just focus on all the potential risks. Making good choices involves setting healthy boundaries and limits in your emotional and physical exchanges with others. Don’t give too much too fast with any area of your life and learn to see trust as something that is earned, not freely given. The best way to enjoy healthy dating is to do it in a way that leaves you with no regrets.
7. Take the Next Step: No matter what comes of your dating experience, it’s always important to do what’s next. That may mean planning another date, or making the deliberate decision not to. Either way, be clear with your intentions and the direction that you’re heading with your dating relationship. Don’t let guilt or fear hold you back either way. You owe commitment to no-one, but you owe proper communication to all.
So, whether or not you decide to call it “Christian Dating” is up to you. But either way, make a deliberate choice to reflect the character of God in all your actions and interactions with the opposite sex. And remember to have a good time! Happy Dating.
*For more practicals on healthy dating, order your copy of True Love Dates today! And please….Share, Retweet, and Like if you agree!
“I tried to kiss dating goodbye- but it kissed me back.” http://shar.es/1mImtA
“Remember that there is no such thing as “Christian dating”, only Christians who date.” http://shar.es/1mImtA
“You owe commitment to no-one, but you owe proper communication to all” http://shar.es/1mImtA
“Like anything we do in life, dating is also a way that we can reflect Him to the people we come into contact with.” http://shar.es/1mImtA
“Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to know if they’re “the one” before committing to coffee.” http://shar.es/1mImtA
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 50+ articles at Relevant Magazine! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!