With V-Day coming up I thought it was time for a dating post. These posts usually come from people who are awesome at dating. Or at least were, because now they’re super married. I’m writing this post because I suck at dating. I choose the wrong people, I say mean things, I think too much, I think too little, I call current boyfriends by old boyfriends’ names and I can’t commit. By now, I’ve made enough mistakes that I have a fairly good idea of what not to do.
If you want to ask someone out, ask them out. Don’t pretend you have an ulterior motive to get them to a café with you, and then go home and change your relationship status. Set a foundation of honesty. Say it with me ‘I think you’re Godly and awesome and I’d like to go out with you’. Use words. Speak your intentions. Say something nice. Make sure you’re both on the same page. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a hangout with someone and realising you’re on a date. To be honest, you can’t go too wrong anyway. Sure, they might say no, but if you’ve been straight up and showed some courage and integrity, then you are still going to come out looking pretty good. I’ve always been left with a lot of respect for guys who’ve asked me out, even if I’ve said no – because they were brave enough to ask me. Plus, it’s a great compliment. No one’s going to hate being asked out.
On the other side of this, if someone asks you out and you don’t want to go out with them – don’t. Too often I see people who feel so terrible about rejecting someone that they date them and then only have to break up with them later. It will hurt a lot less if you’re are honest from the beginning.
Look For a Person, Not a Relationship Status:
Sometimes I worry that when people desperately want to be married, they are misdirecting themselves. They don’t want a specific person, they want a relationship. This can lead to people finding a semi-suitable person to date just so that they won’t be single. We have to be realistic though. Marriage is not the end of all your problems. It’s the beginning of new problems. Dating, singleness and marriage are three very good things. All three come with hardships. Don’t wish away the season of your singleness. If you can find contentment with singleness you can be sure that you are dating someone because you want to date them. Not because you need something from them.
You Haven’t Been Left Behind:
At 25, I’m already running out of similarly aged single friends. The other day I was at a birthday party and realised half way through the night that I was the only single person there. By the time my mum was my age she was married and about to be blessed with my presence.
We set goals like ‘I’ll be married at 22 and have a baby at 24’. The problem with this is that those ages seem so old when you haven’t reached them yet. A 22 year old to a 16 year old is a shrivelled old woman. But at 25, 22 year olds seem like new-borns. Fortunately I can’t remember what my goal ages were, but if you do, don’t let it get you down. You didn’t have enough information to go on when you made those goals and you were operating under misleading information about age.
Just because Christians start getting married from child bearing age doesn’t mean you have to. Cameron Diaz got married at 42, fabulous Amal got married at 36. The average age that people get married in Australia is 28.1 for women and 29.8 for men. We keep talking about how the average marrying age is getting older and older as though it’s this bizarre phenomenon. It is not a bad thing! In 1980 the average age was 22. I was an idiot when I was 22. If I’d gotten married then it would have been because of social pressure and would have been a terrible mistake. If I was to get married at my current age, I would still be getting married young by the world’s standards. You are not a wrinkled old hag with a dusty uterus, you haven’t been left behind. You are at a perfectly reasonable age to be unmarried. Please don’t marry the first person to ask so that you don’t feel left behind. An unhappy relationship can lead to greater loneliness than singleness can.
I’ll Have a Latte and a Marriage Certificate Please:
Christians need to calm down about going on dates. It’s like we think we need to be prepared to marry someone before we’ll even hang out with them. Then we spend so much time talking about where we see this going that we forget to have fun. The dating process is supposed to be about getting to know someone; not pledging heart and soul to them. If you treat a casual date as a proposal, you won’t get any. Sometimes Christians, because they’ve thought so much about it, assume that this one date is the end of their singleness, they’ll be happy forever, this is from God. This person is the double rainbow of their heart. Then they don’t call, or you go on a few dates and it doesn’t go anywhere. This is what happens. It’s heart breaking, and disappointing and confusing and completely normal. Making your intentions clear is fine. Assuming you will marry this person because you’re on a date is not. It causes undue stress because from the first moment you’re assessing them for marriage compatibility rather than actually getting to know them.
Delight in the Lord and He Will Give You the Desires of Your Heart.
Please don’t read that as ‘if I delight in God he’ll send me a husband or wife’. This is not the prosperity gospel for singleness. I think it’s more an example of our priorities. God wants to give you the desires of your heart because he loves you and wants good things for you, but he is also jealous for you. He wants us for him. If we get the desires of our heart before we delight in him then chances are we will walk into the sunset with our granted desires and not pursue God anymore. God is not a wish granting factory, he is your father and he will give you what’s best for you. What’s best for you is him. The desire of our heart should be him first and foremost so that he can trust you with your other desires. Delighting in him directs what the things we desire are, and the reasons we desire those things.
Church is not a Hunting Ground
Don’t abandon your church is there’s no one there for you to marry. Church is a place to worship God, it’s not a singles mixer. Being on welcoming is not a chance to get first dibs. Granted, it’s also a good place to meet people, but that should be secondary. You are there to love God and love his people. Potential relationships should be incidental. A possibility, not an expectation
For those of you who are already married, don’t make awkward jokes, don’t hijack people’s friendships by acting like they’re already dating. Relationships and friendships are delicate things and smug married couples come barrelling through with the subtlety of an elephant, sometimes crushing the delicate flower that potentially be something. If you need help with not being a matchmaker, read Tara’s post here
Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you – Hebrews 13:5