Originally published Wednesday, 30 October 2013.
Hey peeps! I’m excited to introduce you to Debra Fileta, fellow Relevant writer, fellow counselor, and author of True Love Dates. (do you sense why we could be friends?) Debra’s sharing some of her own experiences with us today when it comes to handling this whole dating-as-a-Christian thing. Check out her 7 tips…and then add your own tip or question. Leave your own comment by Friday and we’ll pick one reader to win her book!
7 TIPS FOR CHRISTIAN DATING
First of all, the fact that the title of this post starts with the number seven (which symbolizes perfection or completion in Scripture) is a coincidence.
The words below didn’t fall from heaven. Seriously.
With that said, I have found the following tips helpful when it comes to thinking about and approaching dating as a Christian.
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” label. The word “Christian” is not meant to be used as an adjective to describe media or clothing or music. Rather, 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. Just like anything else we do in this life, dating is a way that we can reflect Christ to the people we come in contact with. Let’s take the pressure off and see it as just that.
2. DON’T TAKE DATING 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. If we only go on dates with people who, based on our initial perception, seem to have the potential to be our lifelong partner, we’ll go on very few actual dates.
There’s very little that can be learned about someone outside a significant interaction of some sort. Some people can learn a lot about each other through the development of a friendship, but even that eventually requires the next step of going on a real date. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to know if they’re “the one” (which is a myth anyway!) before committing to dinner and a movie. Let’s not take this so seriously, K?
3. DON’T TAKE DATING 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 one. But I also believe you should always hold to a set of personal values and beliefs that you are unwilling to compromise on when it comes to getting to know someone. Instead of just treating dates with the randomness of the lottery, know what you’re looking for and what you want to avoid.
Your time and emotional energy are valuable, so decrease your risks by investing in relationships that will build you up and challenge you no matter what the outcome. If you know something is a dead end from the start, don’t bother going down that path.
4. BE YOURSELF.
This one is a no-brainer. But really, it has to be said. There are far too many people out there trying to be someone they’re 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 then give others the respect they deserve by displaying authenticity in your interactions.
5. HAVE FUN GETTING TO KNOW OTHERS.
How easy is it to get so hung up on this dating stuff that it becomes more stressful than enjoyable? Dating 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, and there’s something really beautiful about that! Look for him at work in your interactions with others, and have a good time.
6. DON’T HAVE 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 focusing 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 be intentional about what comes next. That may mean planning another date, or making the deliberate decision not to. Either way, be clear about 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.
CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT . . .
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.
Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She, her husband, and their two children live in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates, which challenges young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy, and spiritually grounded. Visit truelovedates.com and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more!