By Bethany Jett, Crosswalk.com
Dating was hard enough before the launch of every swipe right, swipe left, easy hook-up app.
And even if you can find a solid Christian single dating site or app, how likely is it that you’ll find your soulmate? And when you do, what are the necessary steps to take the connection from “you’re cute” to “I’d like to see where this relationship can go”?
We crave the intimacy of being part of a couple, but when your standards are high, it can take a while to find that special person.
Despite our internal struggle, a hard part of being single is the external pressure to be in a relationship.
How many times have you heard, “When are you going to settle down?” or “I can’t wait for grandkids.” How about, “What’s a gorgeous/smart/handsome guy/girl like you still doing on the market?” And heaven forbid, ladies, that someone mentions that the biological clock is ticking.
With all this pressure, it’s no wonder dating feels difficult. Each person has the potential to be “the one.
Necessary Christian Dating Advice before You Begin Dating
We’ve heard it all—the good, the bad, the annoying.
“Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.”
Otherwise known as: Don’t have sex before marriage.
“Men should pay for the date.”
Although I agree that the guy should pay for the first few dates. Once you’re a couple or heading that way, dates can be split, or the lady can pay. #OldFashionedAndNotSorry
And everyone’s favorite:
“You’ll find the right person when you stop looking.”
There’s a lot of truth to this. I think it’s more like, when you focus on yourself, your needs, your career, your relationship with God, you’re doing the things that the right person is looking for in a partner. Many times, that’s how you end up meeting.
Along with these clichés, there are some dating safety tips we’ve just got to share, particularly when you’re in the “still new” phase of the relationship:
- Drive yourself to the date. Don’t go home with the other person.
- Doesn’t make you a priority or respond to messages (here’s what to do in that situation). Have a friend on standby who knows where you are and when you should be home.
- Don’t give out too much personal information, despite how easy it is to find out stuff online.
StalkComb through their social media profiles. What types of things do they post? Who do they hang out with? What type of language do they use in the comments?
- If you’re dating online or long-distance, avoid the temptation for late-night, in-bedroom video chats. Things go south quickly.
Safety is crucial but if we set guardrails around the experience, it allows us the room and freedom to be ourselves and breathe a little.
It’s called setting standards and we never apologize for it.
What Does the Bible Say about Christian Single Dating?
The Bible doesn’t say a lot about dating because “dating” is a modern concept in terms of how long we’ve been on the planet. A courtship is more along the lines of what our beloved biblical heroes and heroines would have experienced.
For instance, girls as young as 12 were of marrying age and boys were 18 or younger (although there were rules and provisions that are quite interesting). In a nutshell, marriages were arranged and there was a betrothal process that could last up to a year.
Dating today is much different, at least in Western society. In the US, men and women today are getting married in their late 20s and an engagement period can last as long as they choose.
So instead of looking for “dating advice” in the Scripture, we need to explore what the Bible says about marriage and about a godly character so that we can be fully prepared and ready.
The Bible says to avoid people:
- with short tempers (see Proverbs 22:24), who are lazy (see Proverbs 21:25)
- who don’t take care of their family (1 Timothy 5:8), and most importantly, who is either not a believer or claims it but doesn’t live like it (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
What Are Some Red Flags to Watch Out for in the Christian Single Dating World?
You must trust your gut.
You must trust the gut of those who love you.
Lots of gut-trusting in the dating scene. How romantic.
99.9 percent of the time, there are warning signs, aka red flags, that something isn’t quite right about the relationship. And sometimes you can’t see those red flags because the thought of confrontation or the possible end of the relationship keeps you quiet.
Our feelings aren’t always the best indicator of what our behavior should be, as Kris Swiatocho and Cliff Young share in this article.
Some warning signs that a relationship isn’t healthy:
- Controlling behavior, limiting your time with friends and family, being overly jealous
- Physically abusive in any way, needs you to “check-in”, wants you to ask permission to do things
- Not respecting your opinion, bad-mouthing your family and friends, name-calling, or extreme yelling during a fight
There are more but these are some subtle (and in the case of physical abuse, not subtle), warning signs.
If you find yourself in a relationship that isn’t healthy and you’re scared to leave, there are organizations full of people that can help, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline which allows you to make a phone call (1-800-799-SAFE ) or check out their website and live chat.
Is it My Time to Date or Am I Idolizing the Need for a Relationship?
According to Census.gov, the divorce rates over the last 10 years have dropped (yay), but so have the marriage rates.
A couple of reasons for this come to mind. Living together is socially acceptable so getting married isn’t seen as a pre-requisite for joining your life with someone else. Also, a focus on starting your career is taking precedence over getting married young. There are more options available for working wherever you want, especially after this past year, so settling down isn’t seen as the main option for happiness.
So how do we separate the longing for a relationship from knowing if it’s actually the right time for us to be in a relationship?
We need to take an authentic look at our motivations and ask hard questions.
Are we ready, as in emotionally and financially stable, to be able to help support another person?
Is long-term, marriage-is-forever commitment something we’re ready to jump into?
What can we bring to the table that another person is going to see as an asset?
Is an emptiness or longing the main reason we want to be in a relationship?
I don’t think there are solid “yes” or “no” answers that can be given to each of these questions because sometimes it’s a sliding scale.
We want to be ready to support (or help support) another person and sometimes being in a relationship means a financial burden will be lessened because costs can be shared.
Ideally, marriage is forever but sometimes it doesn’t work out. Keeping our eyes out for red flags during the dating scene is imperative but we change as time goes on. Do we know what we’re willing to put up with and what our deal-breakers are?
The longing to be in a relationship isn’t wrong. We were created for it. Literally. God said it wasn’t good for us to be alone and He invented partnership when He created Eve (see Genesis 2). The caution is not allowing the desire to be with someone to become so strong that it clouds our judgment.
The commitment is real and powerful, so spend time thinking about the qualities you want in your future spouse. To give you a starting place, here are seven essential qualities to look for in a godly man and seven essential characteristics of a godly woman. We can also make sure we’re checking the list off for ourselves, too!
The decision of who you marry is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Make it wisely, not rashly. Consult with those who love you to make sure they’re not seeing red flags that you’re ignoring. And most of all, enjoy the season of life you are in.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Merlas
Bethany Jett is a multi-award-winner for her books and marketing campaigns and is a sought-after speaker for women and teens. An entrepreneur at heart, Bethany co-owns two companies within the publishing industry.
She is a military wife to her college sweetheart and a work-from-home momma-of-boys who loves planners, suspense novels, and all things girly.
Connect with Bethany on your favorite platform by checking out her site: BethanyJett.com