For far too long, the overall Christian sub-culture has been down on dating.
It’s been blamed for relationship problems, pain and even been equated to a lack of trust in “Waiting on God.” As a professional counselor and, well, a woman who dated, I see dating as an incredible opportunity to glorify God and get to know the people around you in hopes of finding true love.
But for as much as I’m a fan of dating, I can’t say that it’s always for everyone. There are definitely times and stages in a person’s life when dating may not be the right thing. Here are some examples:
1. You Hope a Relationship Will Make You Feel Better About Yourself.
I interact with some young men and women who believe that a relationship is the means to their end, as if all problems, insecurities, fears and worries will dissolve in the embrace of a lover.
If you are looking to a relationship to solve your problems and absolve your fears then hear this: You probably shouldn’t be dating.
There’s got to be an understanding that true security and value must come from within before you will be able to invest fully to another. Relying on another human being to fill those insatiable needs is a recipe for disaster—because no human being has the capacity to offer you what is needed for true value and self worth. True security must be rooted from the intimacy of your relationship with God, and founded in the value He has placed upon your life. Relationships and the joy that they bring are simply overflow.
Seek to understand your true value before trying to find it in the eyes of another.
2. You Just Got Out of a Relationship.
This is what we like to call the “rebound.” We all know that individual who is bouncing around from one relationship to the next, getting over one breakup by jumping into the arms of someone else.
The problem with this philosophy is that it never allows for healing, maturity and growth. When a relationship ends, it’s a signal that something was wrong. Rather than quickly starting over, it’s important to take the time to heal, recover and redefine yourself now that you are standing alone.
It’s important to review the former relationship and learn from your past wounds before you seek to try again. Give yourself time and a chance to heal, because that healing (or lack thereof) will follow you right into the next relationship.
3. You Haven’t Invested in Getting to Know Yourself.
For you to really have an understanding of what you need in a mate, you have to have an understanding of who you are. I would venture to say that the No. 1 determining factor of whether you are ready to date is how well you know yourself.
Of course, knowing yourself is a lifelong process, but your past, your present and your future are all important parts to you need to understand and work through as much as possible for the prospect of true love to become a reality. YOU are actually the most important person you will ever date.
4. You Don’t Believe the Timing is Right.
Sometimes it really comes down to this one thing. For some people, the adventure of dating is one that they are not quite ready to jump into. Maybe the timing is not right or maybe they are at a point in life in which their concentration needs to be invested in other things: school, career, ministry or simply getting their life more together.
No matter the reason, it’s important get a green light within your heart led by God’s Spirit in order to go ahead and step into the world of dating.
Dating can complicated—I get it. But it can also be a really special adventure. In order to pursue the rewards of dating and minimize the risks, it’s seriously important to make sure you are ready and that the timing is right for you.
Take inventory of where you are in life and then seek God as you take the first steps. Like I said, I’m an advocate of dating, but if you’re going to date, be sure to date well, because timing is everything.
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.