I didn’t date in high school. It was a commitment I made to focus more on school and preparing for my life ahead. I’m glad I made that decision, but I also learned a lot through dating after I turned 18. I dated intentionally (not frivolously), which meant going out with guys who shared my values. Obviously, all those dates and relationships didn’t work out…except for the one with my husband! While some people would say those relationships were a waste of time, I don’t look at them that way. I think of them as learning experiences.
Going out with the guys I knew before my husband taught me a lot about myself. It also taught me what I needed in a long-term relationship, and I’d like to think it taught the guys that as well. I can look back on what I learned from dating as a blessing to my life today. Here are a few of the takeaways I have from my single and dating days.
1. Confidence is internal.
When I lived in insecurity, dating was awful. I constantly questioned myself, said weird stuff around guys I liked and wasn’t my most genuine self. But when I stopped seeking man’s approval and began seeking God’s, it didn’t matter if a guy didn’t like me. I acted like myself because I no longer worried that this guy was the only shot I had. As my faith increased, my dating life improved.
By the time I met my husband, my confidence was so ingrained in my personality that that’s exactly what attracted him to me.
2. It’s okay to go out with someone you’re not sure about.
My husband and I were not attracted to each other when we first met. We weren’t one another’s “types” and actually dated other people for the first few months that we knew one another. When I did go out with him, I still wasn’t sure he was the kind of person I wanted to be with. But I gave him a chance anyway—and I’m so glad I did!
Dating only according to your “type” or making judgments based on someone’s appearance and hobbies will severely limit your options. Open your heart and mind to people who might not fit a stereotype, but who would make amazing partners in the long run.
3. There’s nothing wrong with dating more than one person.
Purity culture gave us some good things, but this wasn’t one of them—the idea that you must marry the first person you date, and if you don’t, you’re “used goods,” or that you should only give a piece of your heart to your future spouse. This is not true! If you date honorably and well, you can give your whole self to your spouse one day. And even when we fall short of God’s glory, repentance leads to restoration.
Both my husband and I dated multiple people before meeting and dating one another. This has not affected our marriage negatively; rather, it has made us appreciate the things that drew us together and caused us to choose one another!
4. It’s possible to honor God in your dating relationship (and that should be the goal).
Sometimes people object to dating as a whole, saying you can’t date someone and be in the will of God. First, nothing in Scripture condemns dating. Marriage relationships were usually arranged when the Bible was written. But the Bible does provide us with spiritual guidance that applies to our modern culture. I think most of us would agree that God does not require us to submit to arranged marriages in order to honor Him! So is it possible to date (our culture’s model of relationships) and still honor God?
Your goal should be to bring glory to God through your dating relationships. You do that by listening to Him FIRST through His Word and the Spirit’s leading. God will not call you to compromise your physical standards. He will not call you date an unbeliever. But He also gives you a beautiful freedom to honor Him in your dating life.
5. A great spiritual life leads to a great dating life.
The most important part of dating well is seeking Christ first. A heart rooted in God’s Word and love for Him will always date well. It won’t be perfect and you still might get hurt, but you can know every date will be redeemed for His glory.