“He wants to live together first,” she said to me with hopeful optimism for the future. My young 20 something co-worker beamed as she talked about her then boyfriend. ”Noooo, don’t do it!” I was thinking, but didn’t say.
I had good reason to keep silent: I was at work, no one in the room seemed to share my concerns, and I had interrupted a conversation already in progress.
I chose rather, to sit and listen to my goo-goo-eyed colleague talk about the man in her life (who was currently living with his mama). From my vantage point, the expectations she had for her relationship were low. I knew this because in the past I too have cozied up with compromise for the sake of not being alone.
But desperation, should not be the reason a woman enters a relationship. She should not be driven by the culture, an amped up biological clock or nosy family members who never tire of asking, “When are you going to get married?” The decision to engage in a relationship should begin with God.
Which may sound a bit ambiguous and be more like looking for a penny in dense swamp water. I get it. Discerning the will of God is difficult, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. For this reason I’m offering 7 signs to help you identify whether or not you are settling in a relationship.
1. He is an unbeliever.
He meets all of your unspoken criteria: smart, funny, good looking, and a host of other qualities. There is just that one area of concern: his faith. The man you are falling for is not a believer.
And whereas it is tempting to rank Christianity on the lowest rung of the qualification ladder, it should actually be number one. This single area will eventually impact every other part of your relationship.
That is because once we invite Christ into our hearts God changes the lens through which we view life. This is illustrated in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When we become a Christian, we develop new perspectives on respect, sex, morality, and every aspect of life.
If you are not on the same page spiritually with a man, building a life with him will be problematic. This is why the the apostle Paul admonishes us, “. . . Not (to) be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Paul was aware that an unequally yoked union would place two diametrically opposed people in a relationship together. He was attempting to save us from what will eventually self destruct.
2. He doesn’t pursue you.
Although a woman leads in other areas of her life, when it comes to romantic relationships she wants to be led. Which explains why even the strongest of women melt in the presence of a man who holds nothing back in communicating his intentions towards her. Women are wired to be pursued by men.
The Bible offers several examples of this pursuit. We see it when Jacob worked 14 years for his bride Rachel (Genesis 29:18-30); King Xerxes’ chose Esther to be the next queen (Esther 2:17); and when David sent his servants to request Abigail become his wife (1 Samuel 25:40).
When a woman finds herself pursuing a man, it could be an indication that the object of her pursuit is not that into her. It may be that she is trying to make a relationship happen that was never meant to be. This behavior carried out over a long period of time is not sustainable.
When it comes to relationships it is far better to follow Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) rather than finagle a man by our own efforts. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Trust God and wait on Him to bring the man that will pursue you.
#3 He does not respect your sexual boundaries.
I recognize many single people are having premarital sex. And at the risk of sounding like a delusional prude super glued to the stone ages, I will say sex is best saved for marriage. This perspective is not popular, but it is God’s way.
No woman should have to compromise on her desire to remain abstinent in order to keep a man. Any man who pressures a woman for sex in order to remain in the relationship is refusing to follow the boundaries God established in his Word. If you have chosen to remain in a relationship like this, it is an indication that your are settling for less than God’s best.
4. He doesn’t know his purpose.
Does the man in your life have a purpose? If you fast forward 10 years down the road will he be someone you want to follow? Reflecting on these questions will help you evaluate your relationship.
Purpose may seem like something you both can figure out along the way, but the optimum scenario is when two people have a clear sense of vision for their lives. Knowing what you are put on this earth to do will help you be intentional about who you do life with. Proverbs 20:5 (NIV) says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.“ If you are dating a man who lacks vision for his life it could be an indication that this is not the right time or he is not the right one.
5. He is financially unstable.
It may be a bit impractical to expect the man you marry to be make 6 figures, drive a luxury car, and be completely out of debt, but it is not unrealistic to expect him to have a financial plan. If he is irresponsible with money as a single man, he will bring that bad habit into the marriage. This trait doesn’t just change overnight.
You don’t want to be married with three kids under five before you figure that out. If this is a character trait you have noticed, don’t compromise in this area. Make your financial future a priority by dealing with this issue prior to saying “I do.” Proverbs 10:4 (NIV) says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”
#6 He is physically or verbally abusive.
When it comes to abuse there are several questions an abused woman must ask herself. How did she get here? What does she believe about herself and her worth? When did she first notice the abusive behavior? What would it take to pursue something more or greater for her life?
Though difficult, we as women have to be willing to evaluate how and why we ended up in certain relationships. We must examine why we stayed and have the courage to make life-altering choices towards health. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, be willing to admit it, seek assistance, and recognize that God desires so much more for you.
7. You are dismissing red flags.
It could be that God orchestrated the circumstances of your life so that your eyes to meet these words at just the right time. This may be one of His many attempts at getting your attention. He loves you and will go through great lengths to communicate his heart to you. No matter what your current relationship status is, single, dating, or waiting, choose not to settle. Instead, make the difficult decision to trust God for His absolute best.
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21
Kia Stephens is a wife and homeschooling mama of two who is passionate about helping women know God as Father. For this reason, she created The Father Swap Blog to be a source of encouragement, healing, and practical wisdom for women dealing with the effects of a physically or emotionally absent father. Each week through practical and biblically sound teaching she encourages women to exchange father wounds for the love of God the Father. You can connect with Kia on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Images from Thinkstock.com and Unsplash.com
Originally published Monday, 25 September 2017.