I wanted a boyfriend in high school. But instead of having a boyfriend, I read books about dating. Christian dating books were my favorite type to read—and while there are worse things I could have consumed, they didn’t help me in the ways they promised. There are five reasons I regret reading those books.
1. Good principles, wrong timing.
The books themselves weren’t the problem. It was the timing. Emotionally and spiritually I was not ready for what I was reading, because instead of driving me to God-centered relationships, the books made me idolize relationships themselves. I would have been better off getting to know God on a deeper level than getting to know Christian dating culture.
2. The best dating book—cheesy as it sounds—really is the Bible.
It sounds trite, but it’s true. The Bible doesn’t talk specifically about dating because that’s a cultural construct. But it DOES give us all the principles we need to date well. It also shows us how to walk by the Spirit in our lives, which in turn produces fruit that makes us great girlfriends and boyfriends. I spent more time reading dating books than learning to study the Bible. That did not help me spiritually, and it didn’t help my relationships later on, either.
3. Reading dating books when you’re not dating distracts from bigger issues at hand.
How I wish I had learned this sooner! The best way to prepare for dating is not to read tons of dating books. It’s to draw near to God through His Word, prayer, community and obedience. Books about Christian relationships just made me fixate on what I didn’t have instead of being thankful for what God had already given me.
4. I sought God for a dating relationship instead of just…seeking God.
The most serious implication of my dating book obsession was how it affected my walk with God. I wanted to know God, but I pursued Him because I thought (subconsciously) He would reward me for seeking Him. The reward I wanted was a relationship. In a sense, it was a form of prosperity gospel—I would pursue God to get something from Him. Not health and wealth and status, but a guy. I probably didn’t even know I was doing it! Seeking God for who He is should have been my first priority, and now that it is, I see how powerful and beautiful a spiritual life can be.
5. Once in a relationship, I knew what kind of books would be most helpful to me.
When I did start dating, most of the principles I read had vanished from my mind. And when I chose a few books to read or reread, I knew what I needed for that season. I didn’t need something that promised marriage if you did things “right”; I needed something to push me to the Lord.
My favorite books now are You and Me Forever by Francis Chan and The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler.
This article is not meant to discourage you from trying a few dating books, but don’t make them your primary book diet. Diversify what you read, spending more time rooting yourself in the Word, learning how to study it, and seeking God for your daily life and not just for your future! This will prepare you and your heart for a future relationship more than any dating book will.