A few years ago, I stumbled upon an article in Relevant Magazine titled “Why are Christians so Bad at Dating?” It caught my attention not only because of the intriguing perspective, but because I tend to agree. As Christians and more broadly as human beings, we are bad at dating.
In my experience, young Christians are usually told to wait for God to bring the right person along. However, they are not always told how they will know when Mr. or Ms. Right walks through the door. Is there something I should be looking for? Will I just know? Can God just text me their name so I can have a bit more direction?
And so, they wait. And wait. And wait.
This unsureness, mixed with impatience, produces the fertile grounds for bad dating. It piles up pressure on our life to quickly find that special someone, for fear that we miss our chance at finding them at all. In my opinion, usually an unwarranted fear that only fuels the speed at which we search for Mr. or Ms. Right. It is a speed that persuades us to answer the questions racing around our heart with an easy response; “does this feel right?”
As Debra Fileta, author of the Relevant article states, “Dating in wider society is often portrayed as a feel-good experience. If you feel “right” together, if you’re having fun, if there’s passion and pleasure, then it must be a good relationship.”
We allow are feelings to pick who we date and evaluate how the relationship is going. There are many dangers in this. One being that we define relational commitment based on chemistry rather than selfless love. This means that when certain chemical signals naturally slow down in the brain, we quickly interpret this to mean that we’re no longer “in love”.
The more important danger that we need to recognize are the consequences for how much weight we put on feelings. Don’t get me wrong, paying attention to our feelings and emotions is important. However, when it comes to dating, the more we lean on our feelings the less we tend to lean on God.
This is an unfortunate reality during what should be a pivotal time of reliance on God. And yet we often don’t include Him in the process as much as we should. We are prone to being distracted from God when we rush. I did this when I was looking to date and even while dating. I had more reliance on myself than on God. It came with its consequences, but I have learned from those experiences and can now confidently say that God comes first in my marriage.
We don’t have to be bad at dating. Something that is so special takes time and doesn’t deserve to be rushed. We can take it slow. Rushing causes us to give up our heart, our identity, and our love without taking time to think first, let alone diligently pray. God calls us to watch over our heart. Before running after the next good looking Christian guy or girl that walks through the door, pause! Just because your heart skipped a beat, doesn’t mean that its God saying ‘Go for it.’
Take time to pray and talk with God about His desires for your life. Take steps to create a foundation of friendship with the other individual so that you can get to know them. And continue to include God in the process; seeking Him through prayer and His Word that your steps may be directed in discernment.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the spring of life.” Proverbs 4:23