I dusted off one of my old journals the other day.

I’ll be honest – not such a good idea. I half-laughed/half-cringed while reading through the pages, “listening” to my 20-year-old self talk about life and dream about the future. I had a pretty good head on my shoulders (if I do say so myself), but even so, looking back I realize I had so many things wrong in my mentality as a single young woman looking for love.

As I look at my life and progression through it, there are so many things I know now about dating and relationships that I wish I knew then. So many pieces of relationship advice that would have spared me heartache, grief, and straight-up saved me time! I spent so much time dreaming, worrying, and thinking about things that would never actually happen.

I invested my energy in the wrong places, and my emotions in the wrong people.

I get that some life-lessons have to be experienced in order to be learned, but I don’t always think that’s the case. Sometimes, I think that all it takes is someone who’s “been there, done that” to give us some perspective and steer us in the right direction (which is why I wrote THIS book about Christian dating).

As I reflect on my time as a single, here is some dating advice I wish someone would have told me before I started dating.

Christian Dating Advice 101

1. The most important person you could ever get to know is yourself.

Does this Christian dating advice sound obvious to you? Than you’re better off than I was. Back then, I probably would have told you that I “knew who I was,” but I really didn’t. The truth is, I didn’t take the time to get to know myself until far too late in my life as a single. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.

So many times, our years of singleness are spent focusing on who we’re going to be with in our future relationships, rather than who we are here and now. Countless hours and limitless energy are poured into getting to know the person standing before us, many times, at the neglect of ourselves.

We can spend so much time trying to find the right person, that we actually lose ourselves in the process.

I wish someone would have clued me in on the fact that getting my stuff together was a huge piece to the puzzle of a nourished relationship. Instead of fixating on relationships- I wish I would have invested more time in developing interests, working through my past, and wrapping my brain around my identity in Christ. Because at the end of the day, you can’t really know what you want in a relationship- until you know who you are.

2. You will always attract the kind of person you believe you deserve.

The truth is that we all come with some sort of a price tag. We rely on so many superficial things to measure our value and our worth by: appearance, intelligence, success. But no matter how you choose calculate it, your price tag is determined by one thing and one thing alone: Yourself.

I wish someone could have told me that you get to determine the price that you will place upon yourself. But more so, I wish I would have known the reality that the price I choose – is also the price I’ll be purchased at. I spent so much of my life undervaluing my worth, thinking I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or cute enough. I made decisions based on what I believed I deserved, and my inability to see my true worth took me down some roads with some people I wish I never would have traveled.

It’s important to get real with the price we place on ourselves, and realize how valuable we are, because we have been made by a God who said so. A God who saw we were worth so much, and paid a high cost just to prove it.

One bit of relationship advice I desperately wish someone would have told me, is that if you want to attract someone who values you, you’ve first got to value yourself. That’s why I’m so adamant, now, about spreading that message myself. 

3. Your story has far more to do with who you are, than who you’re with.

It’s hard not to be “single-minded” when you’re on the search for love (no pun intended). It’s easy to focus in on your desires in the here and now. But the truth is, finding a relationship is just part of God’s bigger story for your life.

I think the most foundational truth that I’ve learned now that I’m a married woman, is that my life has far more to do with finding my purpose than it ever did with finding someone to marry.

I love my husband, and I’m blessed by the relationship we have but I realize that this relationship is just part of the bigger picture God has for my life.

My purpose, my security, and my value weren’t resolved in the arms of my spouse. There is so much more that God has made me to do and to be, and so much more that I want to become. Finding true love is just part of the equation of my story — and it’s only part of yours as well. Seek to find your purpose and pursue your God-given passions while standing alone. Because one thing I wish I would have known is that you’ll never regret investing in God’s bigger picture. It’s never in vain.

No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, my prayer is that you learn from my mistakes, and take some of this Christian dating advice to heart, because a simple perspective change can make all the difference in your life–and in your relationships.

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Looking for more Christian dating advice from an expert? Check out Debra’s book – written by a licensed professional counselor, but rooted in faith. If you’re dating, or thinking about dating, you need to get your hands on a copy of this life-changing message. True Love Dates is the one and only book you need to read about dating. Check out what the reviews are saying, and start reading to change your love life today!

This post originally appeared on TrueLoveDates.com. Used with permission.

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