First off, dating successfully doesn’t always mean the end result is marriage. We grow and learn valuable lessons in dating. Dating is meant to learn about a person, and yourself, with the goal of marriage in mind.
You probably have heard the Bible verse that says guard your heart. This verse is used often to talk about dating, but this really relates to all areas of life. For this topic we will use Proverbs 4:23 to apply to dating, because it really is true — Everything flows from your heart. If you can guard your heart in a healthy way as you date, I think that’s a successful dating relationship.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” – Proverbs 4:23
There’s nothing like being in a dating relationship that is unhealthy. You’re family and friends may see a difference in your demeanor, how you spend your time, or a change in who you spend time with. Here are some signs you are in an unhealthy dating relationship:
- The physical intimacy doesn’t match up with the emotional commitment. Sex is for marriage.
- You both have some interpersonal work to do.
- One person isn’t into the relationship as much as the other one.
You also don’t want to be fearful of getting hurt, not seeing signs, or dating the wrong person. There can be so many fears that come with dating. I don’t want you to feel that and neither would Jesus. There’s so much freedom in dating! I want to give you these five tips to set up in your personal life. These five things will create guard rails to your dating life. It’s the google maps to your relationships. You will feel more confident in your dating decisions and determined to guard your heart. To avoid the signs of a bad relationship you need to have these four things in your personal life to date successfully and guard your heart.
1. Have a church community.
When I met John I had a great church community. I was a member of a church for the first time and I was involved in a great small group. When you are dating I wouldn’t suggest going to each other’s church. However, John and I didn’t meet at church. If you met at church don’t let that hold you back! Get to know that person. Take the dating risk. You can because you have a solid community around you both to speak into the relationship.
2. Build a solid friendship circle .
I have such an amazing group of friends. I had established this group of friends before I met John. These friendships go beyond a Bible study or a small group or a ministry. My friendship with these ladies allowed the space for hard questions, honest communication, and so much love. When I dated I asked my friends to hangout with the guys I dated. Based on my friend’s interactions, I was able to know which guys were no good and which ones were keepers. Basically only my husband was liked by everyone in my friend group. This is such a good sign! I had built such a great group of friends that choosing bridesmaids for my wedding was a no brainer. Now that we are married I still have all the support in the world.
3. Give someone older and wiser the permission to ask you the hard questions of dating.
I had asked the pastor’s wife at my church to meet with me because I had some doubts about a guy I was dating. I should have done this sooner! I broke up with that young man and started dating John shortly after. I was able to get counsel from my pastor’s wife and eventually she and her husband facilitated our marriage counseling. Building relationships with someone who is not your peer when you’re single and dating is SOOOOO IMPORTANT. We are not meant to live in isolation! We are meant to be a part of the Body of Christ. Take hold.
4. Serve, Serve, Serve.
When you are single (not married) your free time is your strength. Serve, serve, serve. Why? Because you’ll be happier. It is easy (I am speaking from experience) to focus on yourself. Your time. Your apartment. Your budget. Your life — Especially when you’re single. Serving in any capacity helps you get beyond you’re life and serve others. This is also a great place to bring the person you’re dating. Watch how you both serve together.
5. Place your identity fully in Christ.
You are an heir with Christ. Act that way. You deserve to be treated that way. With respect. This is probably the most important aspect of your personal life that needs to be in order before you date. If you truly believe that you are co-heirs with Christ and a child of God you will guard your heart with the truth that you belong with God. No one can take that away from you. That Truth doesn’t change because of how a boyfriend or girlfriend treats you in a dating relationship.
I want you to have fun, freedom and no fear when you date! I really think that if you have these fives things in your personal life you will find it easy to date successfully and not find yourself in unhealthy relationships.