When I was 16, I crafted a page-long list of things I wanted in my future husband. It included some admirable qualities—such as a heart that loves God—and quite a few unnecessary items, such as “loves to ski” and “likes horseback riding.” I even listed my preferred age difference!
Needless to say, my husband only fit a few of the qualifications on that long list. He’s a wonderful, godly man and I’m blessed to be with him. But what my 16-year-old self didn’t realize was this: Everything I expected my future husband to be pointed right back at me.
I recently saw a meme of a dilapidated picnic table with the quote: “The table guys want us to bring something to.” I chuckled because girls do the same thing! We want someone to “bring a lot to the table,” but we have to ask ourselves: What kind of table are we? What do we bring to a dating relationship in our character and spiritual life?
If you want a great guy, be a great girl. If you want a godly guy, be a godly girl. Be the kind of person you want to date.
There’s nothing wrong with setting high expectations—if they’re rooted in Scripture. God has described throughout the Bible what godly men and women look like. In 1 Corinthians 13 we even have a description of godly love: It is patient, kind, not envious, not rude and so much more. Yet in the Christian community, young women will sometimes create heavy expectations for young men, expecting them to be at a level of spiritual maturity their own fathers may not have yet achieved.
The expectations you lay on a young man should be met in your own character. If you want a man who loves you selflessly, that kind of love comes from knowing Christ. You have to ask yourself: Are you drawing near to God? Are you letting Him teach you how to love in your non-romantic relationships? Because if you can’t love well when you get nothing in return, you’ll eventually have trouble in your dating relationships, too.
Expectations should be biblical and realistic. They should also be equal: Whatever you expect of a guy, make sure you’re expecting of yourself.
Appearance: The Elephant in the Room
This is always a hard topic to talk about, and I’ve written about it on Project Inspired before. Sometimes our expectations go beyond the spiritual to the physical. We want to date someone who’s super fit or fashionable. We have to be so careful in judging by appearance and elevating people based on how they look. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to date someone who is fit, but once again, you have to ask: Are you pursuing those things? Or do you just like guys who do?
Keep in mind that people who love fitness usually enjoy a lifestyle that supports fitness—which means you might like how they look, but are you up for dating a guy who doesn’t eat sweets or whose idea of a fun weekend is running a half marathon?
You shouldn’t change yourself to snag a type of person, particularly when that “type” is appearance-based. But if you want to be with someone who has a certain lifestyle, you have to think through whether you have enough in common to make it work. A guy who loves fashion is probably looking for a girl who at least enjoys dressing up with him. So if you want to date someone with a certain look or lifestyle, think about whether or not you are attracting that type of person through your own hobbies and priorities.
Character Is King
Relationships that last are based on long-term values shared by people who commit to working at love. This takes character. If you want a man of character, be a woman of character! Root yourself in the Word of God, get in godly community, serve others and let God work in your heart. This is not going to happen overnight, which is good—because our walk with God is a lifestyle! As you press into your relationship with Him, God Himself changes you into the kind of person you’d want to date. Because we recognize in others what we value most, in God’s time guys will cross your path who resonate with your character.
Don’t give up on your standards. But be sure you’re meeting them in your own life. We don’t “deserve” any relationship, but God is gracious to help us grow worthy of the ones we have—when we walk in step with Him.