I’m not a marriage counselor or a “relationship expert,” but I’ve dated before and I’m (very) married now. So while I’m no expert, I’ve had my feelings hurt in bad relationships/friendships, but have also been affirmed in my marriage.
I want to help you realize that, while there are some good things to do in any relationship, there also are a lot of different ways to do relationships that might not necessarily be bad. Listen to people who’ve come before you, respect yourself and the other person, and most importantly, stay sensitive to what God may be trying to teach you.
All right, let’s get straight to the good stuff. Here are my five tips for dating:
1. Don’t Lead Him On.
If a guy expresses interest in you, it probably feels pretty good to have someone think you’re attractive, interesting and fun to be around. Or maybe you like flirting with a lot of guys because it’s pretty harmless and you like getting them to flirt back. Here’s the deal: Of course it feels good to know that others find you attractive, and of course it’s fun to get a reaction. But ultimately, you could be ruining some potentially great friendships by leading people on, or pushing away a really great guy if he sees you flirting with lots of other guys.
2. Don’t Be Too Available.
Here’s what I mean by “don’t be too available”: Don’t always rearrange your plans if a guy you’re into texts and asks if you want to hang out. Not only is there something attractive about a person who has her own life, but it also helps you draw healthy boundaries so your entire life doesn’t revolve around a boy.
3. Don’t Play Mind Games (Say What You Mean).
I know a lot of girls who think they have to try to act mysterious or keep a guy guessing in order to keep him interested. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, ladies: We don’t get you. You don’t have to play mind games to be mysterious; we do not understand you. You are already intriguing and you don’t have to manipulate us to keep us interested–just mean what you say and say what you mean.
4. Don’t Talk About Marriage (Right Away, at Least).
I don’t think it’s a great idea to begin dating someone by declaring that your “intentions are for marriage.” This rushes the process of the relationship and makes it easier to jump into premature intimacy, emotionally and sexually. Hear me out: I think one of the things young, single Christians are taught is that we should date with marriage in mind. I agree, inasmuch as I think a mature person who’s looking for long-term companionship should only date someone they think is marriage material. Knowing something like that means that you need to be friends first, and that’s a great place to start.
5. Learn His Love Language.
If you’re already in a relationship, you can start using this one right now, but if you’re not, this will definitely come in handy in a future relationship and in all of your friendships, too! Gary Chapman wrote a book called The 5 Love Languages. He talks about how every human has a kind of affection that speaks to them most deeply. The five love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch. Find out more about your significant other, and about yourself, so you can adequately express your appreciation for each other as is appropriate for the maturity of your relationship.
We all come from different cultures with different backgrounds that have different expectations of family involvement in relationships and modesty in clothing, among other things. I just want you to find an amazing guy (not “the one,” because he doesn’t exist) who loves God and you, and supports you in all of your efforts. Love is awesome and worth waiting for.