They’re hot, now what?!
They’re hot, now what?!
Meeting someone we like is great but raises all sorts of questions...
We’ve all been there: a girl or guy catches our attention and we think about what it would be like to start dating them. Meeting someone we like is great but it raises all sorts of questions: how do I approach them? Will I mess it up? How do I know if it’s God’s will? Should I just go for it? In short: what do we do next?
Some of us are tempted to hold back, worried we might start a relationship with the wrong person or anxious that if it all goes wrong we’ll have to see each other every week in church. At the other end of the scale there are those of us who jump straight in and end up having it all blow up in our face. The 21st Century wisdom that says we need to experience things before we decide if we like them is fine if you are talking about a phone, a new t-shirt, or a new car, but when we are talking about people, taking a test run seems to conflict with the call to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’. So how do we date differently? What do we do once we think we might like someone?
In the Bible, we see people being intentional and active about their intimate relationships. Take Adam and Eve for example. In Genesis 2 we don’t see God saying ‘Adam: this is your wife. Now put a ring on it!’ Instead we see Adam saying ‘this is bone of my bone’, because he was involved in the prior search. He said no to all the animals and then he said yes to Eve. In Genesis 24 we see Abraham, his servant and Rebekah all making intentional, and thoughtful decisions about the marriage that takes place later between Rebekah and Isaac.
Being more intentional as we date will help us to think through what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how it’s affecting others. Being intentional begins by thinking through compatibility - and that doesn’t just mean considering ‘what do I want in a guy/girl?’ Whilst that is important, we also need to think about what we can offer in a relationship because relationships take two people. What is needed for both people to flourish? Are you heading in the same direction? Do you have the same priorities? Are you prepared to put up with their disorganisation because you admire their passion for life? Are you prepared to accept that they sometimes don’t contact you enough because you admire their focus and drive? Being intentional is about thinking through what we can give to a relationship as well as what we can get from it, and deciding if we are prepared to put the necessary work in.
Relationships are meant to be fun but not at other people’s expense. By being intentional we can avoid hurting people and starting relationships that are ultimately damaging. It will also help reduce our fear surrounding relationships because we can have greater confidence in the decisions we’re making.
A friend at uni told me how important it is to spend time with your girlfriend. I thought that was a pretty obvious statement! But what he meant was that you need to see someone in lots of different contexts to be able to really get to know them (that’s multiplexity).
If I said to you that the only thing I do to invest in my relationship with God is read my Bible, I would like to think that you would suggest that I should also sing worship songs, pray, serve others, be accountable, and seek God alongside other Christians as well as on my own. God’s word shows us that we need to seek him in many different ways and in many different contexts. Likewise to get to know a friend or potential partner we need to see them in a number of situations. Talking to someone over the phone or by email is very different to sitting down with them over a meal. Playing sport can bring out a different side to us than serving on an outreach team. People often respond differently in big groups and more intimate settings, when they are in their comfort zone and when they are under pressure. The more situations we see someone in, the more we understand who they really are (and not just who they are for 15 minutes over coffee after church!). Seeing someone in different contexts helps us work out if we have a similar sense of humour, if we can put up with their annoying habits (and they with ours), and if we like them whether they’re in a good mood or a bad mood. Interacting with someone in different contexts is key to knowing if you truly like each other or not, and increases the depth of the relationship. If we only see someone after church we can end up building a picture of them in our mind that doesn’t necessarily reflect the full picture of who they really are.
Practicing intentionality and multiplexity obviously doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes, or that when we start dating it will all work out amazingly, but we will know that we made decisions based on real facts and authentic interactions rather than fleeting feelings and fantasy. Dating is rarely straightforward and there is no guarantee we won’t get hurt but we can do things to make the journey less confusing. So keep asking God for wisdom, for opportunities to practice multiplexity and the courage to be honest, vulnerable, gracious, and intentional.
If you would like to know more about dating, God and relationships, André recently wrote a book with Rachel Gardner called the ‘Dating Dilemma: A Romance Revolution’ and regularly posts blogs, testimonies and more on his charity website www.relationshipdilemma.com.