Category: Dating

What is the Best Age to Start Dating?

birthdaycupI dare you to ask this at a sweet sixteen party just to see what happens.

I once saw a Youtube video where a couple of guys talked about their experience dating in middle school, and just how pointless it was to do so. They explained that they barely knew what a relationship was, let alone how to have a solid one.

So the question is, when is a good age to start dating?

Whenever you start dating, you have to look at the intention of your relationship. At fourteen or sixteen you may be completely smitten with a member of the opposite sex, but are you heading towards marriage or heartbreak?

Granted, the age you marry is dependent on who you are, where you live, and what your culture is like. Being a California native, I’m used to seeing people get married between 25-35. Marrying later in life is normal there. But here in Tennessee, everyone is married between 18 and 21. The age people start dating is dependent on what age is normal for marriage in your culture.

The bottom line is despite your age you should be intentional about where your relationship is going, and decide to be responsible in that relationship. The pain of a premature relationship saps the joy out of a young heart. Don’t begin dating out of rebellion or discontentment- date with the intention of a fruitful life.

Hooked on a Feeling

hook3Have you ever woken up in a bad mood for no apparent reason? Have you ever became angry and frustrated when only minutes beforehand you were enjoying everything about life?

Feelings are strange creatures. At times they are appropriate and sensible, at other times they are irrational and ill-founded. They can come in with the wind and then leave with it, or they can hover in the heart beyond their welcome. They can lead us into dark places just as easily as they lead us into good ones.

Don’t get me wrong – feelings are good things. They are an essential part of enjoying life. The problem is that we let them control us. Our feelings dictate our actions. We make bad decisions because our feelings blind us from good ones.

The largest feeling we allow to blind us is love. This can be seen in the man or woman who leaves their spouse saying, “We don’t love each other anymore.” It is seen in the man or woman who stays in an unhealthy dating relationship because they “love them.” Love has been watered down to a good excuse; a reason for executing any action we please whether it is right or wrong, loyal or disloyal, healthy or addicting. We let this “love” control us. We let it dictate us. And sometimes, we even let it destroy us.

The Problem With “Love”

“Love” is a word we don’t define correctly. When we think of the word “love” we think of that feeling we get when we see a member of the opposite sex holding a cute baby, or when we have a fond memory of our parents, or when we see a picture of a pile of grammatically incorrect kittens. But none of these feelings are love. They’re good feelings, but they’re not love.

The root of the problem is limited vocabulary. Although there are many words for adoring something or someone, the default word we go to in the English language is “love.” Because it’s our default word, its definition becomes vague. If you say you love football and then you turn to me and tell me you love me, how do I translate it? Do you love football and me with the same intensity? Do you have one type of love for football and another type of love for me? And most importantly, does your idea of “love” match up with mine?

We say “I love you” when we feel affectionate towards something or someone. And since that seems universally acceptable, we decide that love is a feeling. Then we decide that our romantic relationships are supposed to be built on this feeling. So in our logic we decide that if the feeling doesn’t exist then the relationship doesn’t need to either. The result? Incredibly messy, painful, and complicated relationships.

Built on Love

So should relationships really be based on love? Not this kind of love. Not the kind of love that feels strong one day and disappears with the next. That sort of love is a fickle beast. There is nothing constant or solid about it.

So what, then, is the real definition of love? What love is solid and created to be built upon?

Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Here we find what love really looks like

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NKJV)

As you can see by this passage, love is not intended to be rooted in feelings. Love is action taken despite feelings. We should base all relationships on love, but not on the type of “love” rooted in feelings; relationships should be built on the kind of love that exists when feelings don’t.

Real love involves commitment, loyalty, and hard work. Love goes beyond happy feelings, and pours into serving someone else even when affectionate feelings are absent. Love is what remains when infatuation has ebbed.

Does this mean that all dating relationships are healthy, solid relationships if they are built on the foundation of proper love? No. Just as there are those who leave a relationship wrongly because of feelings, there are those who stay in a relationship wrongly because of feelings.

The foundation for all relationships should be the type of love shown in 1 Corinthians 13, but a dating relationship needs a few extra considerations.

Good Foundations

Romantic relationships heading towards marriage need to mix more elements into their foundation to make them sturdy enough for marriage. Dating relationships should be founded on:

Mutual beliefs – Your beliefs are the foundation of who you are and how you live your life. You can get along well with people of opposite religions and beliefs, and you can even have good chemistry with them, but that doesn’t mean you will do well as life partners. The idea of marriage is to become one unit; that is an incredibly challenging task if you oppose one another spiritually. Don’t enter into a relationship thinking that maybe later they will have a change in heart. No relationship should be based on “maybe later.”

Mutual relationship views – There is bound to be heartbreak when one person is dating with the intention of marriage while the other is simply playing the field. It is tempting to think that you can change someone’s mind when it comes to how they view relationships, but don’t place your bet on it. Find someone who has the same level of commitment as you do.

Mutual direction – If your greatest desire is to settle down and have six kids in the middle of suburbia, and your sweetheart’s goal in life is to be a missionary in the most dangerous parts of Africa, one of you is going to end up being miserable. Everyone has a calling on his or her life and it’s important to consider that when dating someone. This may not be deal breaker; if your callings don’t line up completely that doesn’t mean your relationship will fail. But do consider what sacrifices have to be made if your callings are in separate directions, and what roadblocks are going to appear if your callings oppose each other. You want someone you can walk towards a common goal with.

With feelings as fickle as they are, they should not be the main determiner of whether or not to stay in a relationship. We should not let our feelings control us. Although we should not deny or undermine our feelings, we should found our relationships on something stronger: a real love that exists when feelings don’t, and wisdom to realize when our feelings are blinding us from making the right decisions.

How to Pursue a Woman – Whether Married or Single

pursuitMale pursuit is incredibly important, whether you’re a single man or a married one. The more the man pursues, the more the woman feels secure and desired, which means she will feel more comfortable in opening up and responding to the pursuit. This results in a fuller, deeper relationship.

Gentlemen, here are the ways to pursue the woman you currently have your sights on:

Find Time for Conversation
Always have an open-ended question ready when you see her. A woman connects most with conversation. In fact, when she’s daydreaming about you, she’s thinking about things that you’ve talked about, jokes you’ve told, and questions you’ve asked her. Conversation cultivates emotional intimacy. Go out of your way to start a conversation with her, whether it’s for two minutes or half hour. As her about her interests, her life, and her opinions.

If you’re married, the same advice applies. Take out time during your day to spend in conversation with your wife. Write it down in your to-do list for the day, and resolve not to go to bed until you have at least asked her how her day was.

Talk to Her Parents
Although the idea may seem out of date, you should always talk to a woman’s father about pursuing her. This gesture shows great respect to both the family and to the woman. When you talk to a woman’s father, the woman says to herself, “This man is so serious about me that he’s willing to be held accountable by my father (or another male role model). He must truly care for me more than any woman.” This shows that you are a mature man in want of commitment. And a woman is more likely to respond to commitment than flirtatious banter.

As for the man who is all ready part of the family, this may not apply; however, a good relationship with a woman’s family is important. Spend time with her father or other male role model to keep yourself accountable and respectable.

Compliment Her
Married or single, in private or in public, compliments are a huge relationship boost. Women love compliments and public adoration as much as men do. Compliments also show a woman that you pay attention to who she is as a person. Don’t only compliment her looks, but compliment her personality, her skills, and her tastes as well. Show her that you admire her completely in every aspect.

Be Chivalrous
Open doors, pull out chairs, pay for her dinner. Don’t think of these things as “old-fashioned,” but instead as things that have been tested and proved successful. Special chivalrous attention to a woman shows your interest. Chivalry is not dead – it is, in fact, a great way to pursue.

Chivalry is important in a marriage as well. Even though your wife may not expect chivalry from you, you should still be willing to give it for the sake of your relationship. A little bit of chivalry goes a long way, even if it you don’t feel appreciated. The motivation should not be how she responds to your acts – the motivation should be showing love to your spouse.

Don’t Give Up
There are many stories out there of men who pursued women who turned them down a number of times. Some of these stories end with a walk down the aisle. Rejection from a woman can happen for many reasons: she may have been recently hurt, she may be unsure of your intentions, or she may just be overwhelmed with life at the moment. If you are rejected, take a step back, give her space, but continue to pursue her if you truly are interested in a life-long commitment.

And married men should never stop pursuit. Constant pursuit is necessary for constant intimacy. If a man stops pursuing, the woman starts doubting. She will ask herself if your interest in her has ebbed, and she will clam up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. One of the best ways to keep your relationship healthy, romantic, and intimate is persistent pursuit of your wife.

What Not to Do:
DO NOT pursue more than one woman at a time. If you really care for a woman, you pursue her and only her. Any other formula will backfire on you and breaks hearts.

DO NOT stalk or harass her. Avoid looking at her Facebook page every 20 minutes, calling her twice a day, or trying to trick her into going out with you. This isn’t pursuing, this is being overbearing, possessive, and – frankly – really creepy.

DO NOT demand something in return for your pursuits. You are pursuing her in order to build a more intimate relationship, and that can take time. Pursuing isn’t always easy, but it will not go unnoticed. Just be patient.

Worthless Requirements

bluebookIn my bookshelf, I have a very beautiful edition of a classic book. It is hardback, with a blue and gold mosaic design on the front. The inside looks just as pretty – a clean font, great white space, and little blue designs on each page.

But the stories in them? They’re gross. They’re gruesome. Nothing in me really wants to read this book, but there’s something about its pretty cover and clean pages that keeps me from ridding myself of it completely.

How often do we hold onto things because they meets useless requirements? Think about my book: is it really important to have a pretty cover and a nice font when the core of it is so unappealing?

We do this with relationships too. We hold onto the person who has an awesome job, or who has a great body, or who has a great group of friends, but who doesn’t have the makings of a reliable spouse. We end up building our relationships on incredibly weak foundations, and our lives and marriages fall through the cracks.

I also believe we can be guilty of holding onto past relationships for the same reasons. We can refuse to move on because the person we remember was highly skilled, fun to be around, or overwhelmingly romantic, but the we fail to remember that they were disloyal, disrespectful, or self-serving.

Are you overlooking the core of a past or present relationship due to its fulfillment of worthless requirements?

Take a look at your relationships – past and present. List why you find (or found) yourself attracted to this person, then identify whether or not this is actually important to the foundation of a marital relationship. Here are a few quick examples of what is important and what isn’t:

Important:
A heart for Christ
A loyal personality
Respect for others
A sense of responsibility
Maturity
Emotionally intimate

Not Important:
A great job
An awesome hobby
A great group of friends
A large bank account
Impressive skills

In being honest with myself, I can say that I have no real reason to keep the pretty blue and gold book sitting in my bookshelf. And if some of us were honest with ourselves, we would admit that the romantic relationships we once had or the ones we are pursuing now are simply pretty things that really profit us nothing. They simply meet a bunch of useless requirements that cheats us out of the solid, deep relationship that belongs in a life-long commitment.

Settlers

settler2

 

“In that day so few men will be left that seven women will fight for each man, saying, “Let us all marry you! We will provide our own food and clothing. Only let us take your name so we won’t be mocked as old maids.” –Isaiah 4:1

…Desperate much?

It’s amazing what we compromise in order to not feel alone. We crave more than anything to feel wanted and love, so when it comes to dating we lower our standards, we negotiate, and we forget the foundational things that are incredibly important to a relationship. Everything becomes negotiable.

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Real Marriage Tour

realmarriageAs a single with a heart for marriage, I quickly discovered that marriage is like an exclusive club. In my attempts to gain insight on common problems in marriage, I found that singles are not exactly welcome in marital Bible studies, that single studies rarely involved real marriage issues or preparation, and that books are divided into two categories: married couples that need to love their spouses more and singles who should stop being so impatient.

I spoke to a pastor of my predicament: not being able to learn about marriage without actually being married. He was able to relate to my distress, being of the same mind when he was single himself.

“I actually used to sneak into marriage conferences before I was married,” he told me with a sheepish grin. “I wanted to know what I was getting into.”

And many singles share the same desire. We notice the 60% divorce rate, and want to know what measures to take immediately to keep from becoming part of a statistic.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s marriage conference, the Real Marriage Tour, that extends an invitation not only to married couples, but to singles as well.

The tour is based off of Driscoll’s new book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together. The book – co-written with his wife, Grace – is all ready #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. The book takes a different approach to typical relationship books, asking first and foremost, “Are you friends with your spouse?”

“The first human friendship in the history of the world was a marriage,” Pastor Mark said at his conference in Corona, California. He went on to talk about the three different types of marriages: marriages where couples oppose one another (back to back), marriages where couples work together (shoulder to shoulder), and marriages based in friendship (face to face). He discussed serving your spouse, being friends with your spouse, and making your spouse your top priority.

The singles, however, were not left out. Pastor Mark applied all his topics to singles as well, not overlooking individual character and expectations when going into marriage, and – biggest of all – sex. And this wasn’t your typical uncomfortable conversation on fornication; instead, he addressed it as God’s gift. Not a god, not gross, but an amazing part of marriage.

Pastor Mark left no stone unturned. He addressed everything from porn to premarital sex, from lust to post-marital sex. Most of his sex talk was based off of 1 Corinthians 10:23, asking the questions “Is it lawful? (Biblically and legally)”, “Is it helpful?”, and “Is it enslaving?” He even took the time to do a few Q&A sessions with the audience that asked their questions via text message.

Even though Pastor Mark made us all laugh to tears with his insights, I don’t believe anyone left without some heavy conviction. Beyond his discussions on marriage and dating, Pastor Mark got to the core of faltering relationships: selfishness, pride, and a lack of a real relationship with Jesus Christ. In our love for Christ, we submit as servants to one another, because that is the picture of Christ’s love for us.

“All Christians are called to be servants,” he said, “It is a high honor because that’s what Jesus was.”

To find out more on the Real Marriage Tour visit The Hub website, which offers tickets and resources for the tour, as well as resources for small group Bible studies written by Mark Driscoll and other pastors such as John Piper and Matt Chandler. You can also go to marshill.com to watch Pastor Mark’s sermons about Real Marriage. (And I highly recommend his Song of Solomon series, The Peasant Princess.) Driscolls’ book, Real Marriage, can be purchased at most bookstores or any of the sites mentioned above.

I thank Pastor Mark for inviting singles with a heart for marriage into the exclusive club. Perhaps if more pastors and conferences let singles have backstage passes to learn about the real hardships of marriage, we can see the divorce rate diminish considerably, and see more marriages paint the beautiful picture of Christ’s love for His church.

Why the Man Chases

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn this day and age, we have been convinced that since men and women are equal, that means that women should take on the role and responsibilities of a man in a relationship and vise versa. Wrong! Men and women each have their own responsibilities in a relationship. It is designed that way in order build the character of both parties and to help the relationship flourish to the fullest.

One particular responsibility we have become confused on is initiating a relationship. The man is made to chase, not the woman. Here’s why:

It Tests His Affections
A man goes after what he cares about. He will be the first in line at a midnight release for a video game or a movie, he’ll workout diligently each day to win a physical competition, or he’ll pick up a second job to get that motorcycle he’s been looking at. How much more valuable is a woman compared to these things! When a woman initiates the relationship, she will never truly know whether or not he responded to her advances because he was interested in her or because he felt lonely that week and thought, “Sure, why not? It beats being single.” A man who loves a woman enough will put in the effort for her. And she should let him, because she’s worth it.

It Keeps the Woman From Settling
If a man doesn’t chase a woman it is usually for one of two reasons: either he’s a coward or he isn’t interested. If he is a coward, he will struggle with being the leader of the relationship and probably will slack on his responsibilities as the man. If he isn’t interested, the relationship is doomed to fail no matter how the woman plays the game. A woman should want a man who adores and appreciates her, and who chooses her first, even 20 years later. A woman does herself no favors by being with a man who is there simply because he can be.

It’s His Job
A man has many responsibilities in a relationship, with pursuit being the first in the list. If he cannot take on the task of pursing a woman he cares for and wants to know better, how can he be expected to step up and do all the tasks that come after pursuit? Men are designed to be leaders, not only of the home but of the relationship; not because women lack leadership qualities, but because the man should guide his wife and family in a way that protects her and benefits the household. It does not benefit a man’s character for a woman to lead him; it instead promotes adolescence and laziness. So, ladies, let the man do his job. Not because you can’t do it, but because it’s his responsibility!

 

Women:
DON’T: Make excuses for his lack of courage or commitment
DON’T: Chase after guys
DO: Protect your heart
DO: Show interest in the guy you’re interested in

Men:
DON’T: Be a coward or afraid of rejection
DON’T: Be over-bearing or creepy
DO: Lead the relationship
DO: Show your affections

Should You Date?

frogsThere is no rule saying that everyone needs to be dating. There is no rule saying you should “try on” members of the opposite sex to see “who fits,” and there is no rule saying once you are old enough to get married that you have to date. In fact, many painful and complicated relationships could be avoided if people took the time out to ask, “Should I be dating now?” And there are a few situations in which the answer should be “no.”

Reason #1 – You Want a Relationship Because it Will “Fix” Your Feelings
Some people reach out for romantic relationships when the other areas in their life are falling apart. There is a huge problem with that: relationships do not take away problems, they add to them! That infatuation high that distracts you from the hardships of life is nice, but it is going to pass away sooner or later and you will just end up having a bigger mess to clean up.

The truth is, if you are unhappy outside of a relationship, you will probably be unhappy in a relationship. On top of that, you are going to end up taking that relationship down along with your feelings. A relationship will not cure depression, anxiety, or even abandonment and insecurity issues. Sure, it will distract you for a while, but those feelings will resurface themselves and your relationship will suffer for it.

If you feel like a relationship is the only way to “cure” you, you are going to be gravely disappointed. No relationship can cure your suffering, except for the relationship you have with Christ.

Reason #2 – You Are Too Young to Get Married
If you are too young to walk down the isle, you probably do not need to get into a relationship. Although you are not too young for romantic feelings, the truth is, dating at a young age causes more problems than fulfillment. Relationships are complicated, even for people at a marrying age! As a teenager, your focus should be on your friendships, schoolwork, and hobbies. These things solidify your future and need all the attention they can get.

Relationships at a young age might do more damage than good. Dating can cause a lot of anxiety, confusion, and pressure that you do not need to deal with at this time. It can turn into one big distraction. It is not that your feelings are not real or are not important, but just because you want a relationship does not mean you are actually ready for the responsibility of one, or that it is profitable to have one.

This is probably the only real time in your life where you will be able to focus on what you want to do and where you want to go. Take it. You have a better chance of meeting your future spouse while pursuing your interests than you would making googly eyes at someone in a classroom. Remember: if God wants you to be married to that person someday, He can bring him or her back to you easily in the future.

Reason #3 – You Are Not Really Ready for the Full Commitment
Just because you are old enough to date, does not mean you have to. Dating can be seen as a recreational sport, and people will tell you to “go have fun,” but it is really not “fun” for the person sitting across the table from you who actually is interested in the full commitment. Dating someone without intending to commit is leading them on. No one deserves that. If you still want to date without intending to commit, at least be honest about it. State your intentions at the very beginning to avoid any unnecessary damage.

From another angle, if life it too hectic or your focus needs to be elsewhere, you are probably at a point where you are not ready to commit the way you need to. So don’t. No one told you that you have to. And if someone did, they are wrong. Pursue a relationship when you are ready to, not when other people tell you to. You will only cause a bigger mess by acting prematurely.

Reason #4 – You – or the Person You Are Interested in – are Married to Someone Else
It seems like so obvious a reason that it needn’t be mentioned, but some people need a gentle reminder. If you have made a lifelong commitment to someone, that is the only person you are allowed to date. It does not matter if you are on the rocks or even separated, your commitment was made to God and in front of a bunch of witnesses. (Remember that line, “For better or for worse?” This just happens to be the “worse” season.) It is not acceptable to break it your vows because you do not “feel” like keeping them. Your feelings are not in charge of controlling your actions. Dating someone else is only going to hurt them, make your life more of a mess, and ruin your marriage even more. Dating around will not make you feel better about your suffering marriage.

On the flip side, if you are interested in someone who is married and is pursuing a dating relationship with you, think about this: all the promises and commitments they make to you, they made to someone else first on a much larger scale. Hardships come in every marriage; long periods of marital storms are inevitable. If they bail out when times get hard now, they more than likely will do so again later.

Just because you want to date does not mean it is profitable to. Look at your life and decide if it is something you should be doing. Even if you are ready for marriage, but do not think the time is right, it is better to wait.

There is no rule that says dating is a requirement! Do not feel pressured to. You will not miss out on anything if you choose to wait.. Your future spouse might thank you for it later!