Ahhh dating. Simultaneously the best and worst thing. So fun, so nerve-wracking, at times so confusing, at times so disappointing, at times so filled with hope and promise… It’s so much trial and error, but there is so much to be learned in that time looking for Mr. Right.
What dating has taught me:
1. Give EVERY relationship to God from the beginning – even before you meet up on date #1. Ask God if this is the right or wrong move. Ask God what He wants you to learn. Ask Him to make it perfectly clear whether to continue seeing the guy or not. Then… you’ve gotta OBEY. Trust God that if it’s not him, it’s somebody better. Even somebody that you think seems “perfect” for you won’t come close to the one God’s made just for you. Trust Him. He knows every guy’s heart better than we ever will, and the best part of this is they can’t fool God like they may be able to fool us (1 Samuel 16: 7). I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve met a lot of phonies, and even been blind enough to date them. For years. Madness! If we trust Him, we can avoid a lot of unnecessary heartbreak. After finding the right man to date, the battle becomes keeping God in the center of the relationship AND your life, rather than the man you’re dating. For me, this is something that I constantly have to keep in check. When things did/do get off balance, I find that Ethan and I fight more, which makes sense, since I am expecting him to fill parts of my heart that he can’t. This is a common struggle, don’t be ashamed of it, be aware of it and work to counter-act it with your man and with God!
2. Give yourself time to get to know yourself in Christ first, then worry about finding Mr. Right. I know this is not the easiest thing. I actually hadn’t spent much time single UNTIL I decided to follow Jesus. I feared being alone because I wasn’t sure who I was without a boyfriend. That goes away! That time to transform, grow in your faith, and (in my case) re-grow your spine to be firm in your expectations and morals is so crucial to finding the man God’s designed for you. My good friend enlightened me to this fact when she put it into words one night. She had recently broken up with a boyfriend that was holding her back spiritually. He was tempting her to drink and pushing for sex when she told him she didn’t want either anymore. After the breakup, she felt lonely and hated thinking about how long she may have to wait for the right man. Then she realized that she was still really struggling with serious temptations and doubts and hadn’t yet grown firm enough in her faith to meet the type of man she was looking for and be the right woman for him. The man she wants to find is strong in his faith, straight in his ways, and leading a life pleasing to God. She had to be firm in those regards herself, first. This was extremely encouraging and freeing for her.
3. When you are single and feel lonely, ask God to show you how much He loves you. We are romantic creatures. We want to be wooed, we want to be thought of, we want to be pursued and fought for, we want little gifts – whether in the form of a bouquet or a kiss on the forehead. We want to know that we are loved, desired, and cherished. GOD WILL DO THAT. He created us that way, He IS that way. We’re made in His image. God will pull your heart strings in a way that He knows you will enjoy. He wants to be delighted in just like we do, He loves doing this kind of stuff!! For me, it’s gifts in nature. A beautiful sunset. A beautiful bug. A warm breeze that smells like roses. Keep your eyes open after you ask, He will deliver.
4. Let go of obsessing over beauty. Nothing is more beautiful than a woman who shines God’s light from the inside, out. Nothing compares to a woman who is confident in the fact that she was beautifully and perfectly made. Beloved of the Creator Himself. A masterpiece in who she is. There really is a warmth and light that shines from those women. This all comes from #2 and 3 up there.
5. Dress to meet a man of good morals. Skanky clothes attract scum bags. You don’t want to be lusted after, you want to be sought after. You want to be respected, so you gotta show the world that you respect yourself and expect respect. It is hard to associate a ton of cleavage with a high level of self-respect. Flaunting our bodies means we’re okay with being ogled like a piece of meat and the source of perverted thoughts for anybody in the room. This also gives the impression of a promiscuous woman, which is not what a man of Christ is looking for. I actually wore (and still wear) a big cross necklace to ward off any scum bags or guys that are intimidated by a strong faith. Like I’ve said before, I asked Ethan what he thought of God on our first date, and he later told me that he expected to be questioned about it because of that necklace.
6. Expect to be treated like a lady. Expect he pays (at least for a while). Expect to be taken care of. Expect that he makes you a high priority. Expect loyalty, because you deserve it. Expect that he respects your boundaries. If he doesn’t, he’s a boy, not a man, and he’s not ready to treat you like a lady. I know this may upset a more feminist reader, so let me clarify – do you NEED a man to pay for your food? Probably not. Does wanting a man that wants to lavish you with love show feminine weakness, male dominance and dependence? No. You’re looking to be loved, cherished, and respected. Gifting you is a way for him to show you! This may seem old fashioned to some, but so be it! A man likes to provide for his woman, it is not a weakness to let him, or to let him feel needed and appreciated, or that his hard work is paying off because he can treat his lady to a nice meal.
7. No “project boyfriends.” I recently realized that every guy I dated until my husband, I wanted to (and thought I could) change. This does not work. You cannot change who a person is and you cannot change a boy into a man. He’s gotta do that on his own. My example for this would be boyfriend #4, my daughter’s father. When we got pregnant, I expected the smoking weed and hanging out with friends more than he was hanging out with me to stop. I expected he would step up, work more, and be the provider. He didn’t. When our daughter was born, I expected it all again. He didn’t. When I broke up with him, I expected he’d do it all then. He didn’t. It’s been years, and I see that he has made great strides, but he had to do all of that by himself and in his own time. He had to choose it. If it is forced on them, there is resentment and rebellion and fights. If you are trying to change him, and that change is essential to your happiness together (whether it’s his religious beliefs, a characteristic, or his actions), he may not be the right man. At least not at present. Only God has the power to really transform peoples’ hearts and they have to seek Him first.
8. Don’t date without keeping the future in mind. I remember the worst argument my mom and I ever had. It was over some jerk boyfriend I was dating when I was 17. He was 19, barely worked, didn’t have a car, wasn’t going to school, drank a ton, partied more, and looked like a punk hobo. He’s the one that cheated on me. My mom said something like “Are you serious? Would you really marry somebody like him someday? Just bending over backwards all the time working while he sits on his butt at home?” to which I yelled back “I’M NOT INTERESTED IN MARRIAGE AND NO, I DON’T WANT TO MARRY HIM.” I wish I could go back in time and slap some sense into myself. Think about it – to face temptation, invest time, invest emotions and open your heart… for nothing? For fun? Not much fun in the end, really… Don’t date just to date, and don’t date just so you’re not alone. It doesn’t lead to anything good.
9. Don’t give them your body until you’re married. Our bodies are a gift from our Creator, and they should be kept until a man has sworn himself in marriage to us before God and all of our family and friends. There are reasons why God made sex for marriage, read them here: Why Sex is for Marriage ONLY & 8 Benefits of Waiting. 9 ways Ethan and I beat sexual temptation here. [Now that I have been married a few months, I can finally give an update about what God has taught me about sex within marriage and why I am so thankful that we waited. Read it here: An Update on Saving Sex for Marriage: 3 Months Into Marriage.]
For more on #3, I highly recommend the book “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul” by John and Stasi Eldredge. It goes deep into the hearts of women and how we can heal and cope with the help of God. It is such a powerful book. There are some really interesting revelations in there – like how God made us after man, and therefore we are the pinnacle of His creation. Really uplifting and eye opening! Also there’s more in there for #4 – about how Satan fell because of his own obsession with his beauty. It talks about how he targets beauty and women out of jealousy in the world today. Plus John (Stasi’s husband) writes parts of it too, giving the male perspective which is also helpful and enlightening!