Monthly Archives

November 2017

3 Things You Should Do To Avoid A Co-dependent Relationship

Early Dating, Relationship Difficulties

A co-dependent relationship is unhealthy and can lead to people getting hurt. In an interdependent relationship, a couple can trust each other, rely on each other, and help each other to grow. Whereas in a co-dependent relationship, an unhealthy dynamic exists and causes a couple to put too much strain on each other, and expect unrealistic results.  

I remember watching a friend start a relationship and seeing it become very intense and co-dependent very quickly. They started to forget other hobbies, ignore other friends, and spend all their time together.

Another friend of mine was sharing her concerns with me because a good friend of her’s had started a relationship, and wouldn’t do anything without the other person. If there weren’t at work or asleep, they were with each other. They did nothing without the other person.


These couples started to expect the relationship to provide for all their needs, all their fulfilment, and all of their worth; which no relationship can do.

These couples started to expect the relationship to provide for all their needs

Yes, it’s okay for a new couple to want to spend lots of time together, yes it’s okay to change your lifestyle and say no to other things when you’re in a new relationship, but we don’t want to destabilise it and sow problems for later down the road.

When a relationship becomes co-dependent, a couple starts relying on each other for every little thing, and it can become unhealthy. I believe that this is setting up a weak foundation, and can end up suffocating the relationship.

Filing our lives up with friendships, wider hobbies, wider interests, creating a full life that we can share with someone we love is amazing. Relying on someone to fulfil everything that our other relationships, interests, and wider hobbies should fill, is dangerous.

Three Things To Avoid

I think there are three things we need to remember when we start building, or as we keep building, our relationship, so that we avoid co-dependence.

We need to remember to avoid:

  • Making Them The Source Of All Our Fulfilment
  • Ignoring Their Faults
  • Not Talking To Others

Making Them The Source Of All Our Fulfilment

A couple in a co-dependent relationship think that this single relationship is enough to bring them all their confidence, self-worth and fulfilment. They think just being in each other’s presence is enough.

We can’t expect an imperfect person to give us everything we need, it’s impossible. We need our identity to be based on more than one relationship.

We can’t expect an imperfect person to give us everything we need

A couple in an interdependent relationship realise that their relationship is enriched by having interests and support and friendships outside of their relationship. They feel more fulfilled, and they can allow each other to grow because they realise things outside of them are important.

It allows the relationship to be a relationship between two people that love each other, rather than the place where absolutely every answer needs to be found. (Read Unhealthy Relationship Expectations We Should All Know.)

Ignoring Their Faults

In a co-dependent relationship, because a couple becomes each other’s main, and sometimes only source of self-confidence, nothing can be done which may end the relationship. This means that any faults, and problems, go unchallenged and unchecked.

Interdependence means accepting there are things that need work on

In an interdependent relationship, the couple realises that neither one of them are perfect. They decide to work on issues together and put in the hard work. Which means they will challenge each other, work on dynamics that are unhelpful, and ultimately help each other to grow. (Read How To Communicate Well When We’re Annoyed.)

Interdependence means accepting there are things that need work, and not just ignoring a problem in case it makes the relationship end. But working through it to make it better.

Not Talking To Others

This one can’t be taken literally of course, people in a relationship will obviously talk to others. But in a co-dependent relationship, the couple spend so much time with each other that they don’t have deep talks or connect with others in a meaningful way.

Or, even if they are with others, they are constantly texting, or messaging or face timing each other, meaning they aren’t fully present or really talking to those around them.

In an interdependent relationship, the couple makes time for other people. They realise not suffocating each other all the time actually means their relationship will be stronger. It means the relationship doesn’t need to be the answer to all their problems.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we avoided being co-dependent, and avoided trying to make one relationship the source of all our needs. No imperfect person, no one person, can truly fulfil us. Obviously, our romantic relationship can be a big part of our lives, but it can never be everything. (Read Are You Making The Relationship Mistake That Causes Unhappiness?)

The relationship made us feel safe, and secure and viewed with a healthy perspective.

Imagine if we had relationships that allowed us to grow, that are fulfilling and also enriched us but are part of a wider enriching life too, where the relationship made us feel safe, and secure and viewed with a healthy perspective.

So let’s avoid Making Them The Source Of All Our Fulfilment, Ignoring Their Faults, and Not Talking To Others.

What is the one thing you could do this week to implement one of these principles (more)? Comments welcome below. 

Originally posted 27/11/2017

1 Big Reason Why People Get Bored In Relationships Explained

Healthy Relationship Rhythms, Marriage

In a society that focuses so much on the new thing, the new ‘must-have’ gadget, the new social media trend, the new fashion craze, anything long-term seems bad. Often people’s relationship perspective can be affected by this thinking. ‘New relationships are fun, old ones are stale, boring and unexciting, right?’. It’s this perspective that can cause problems.   

So the wedding ceremony had happened, we had all eaten the wedding breakfast, the father of the bride and groom had given their speeches, then the best man got up.

I think the best man has the toughest job of all. The father of the bride just needs to share some soppy stories. The groom just needs to thank everyone and everyone is on his side because it’s his day after all. But when the best man gets up, people want to be entertained. He needs to make people laugh and tell embarrassing stories about the groom, but not be too mean.

This best man nailed it. He was funny, engaging and very creative, but right at the end he made a comment that shocked lots of people. He said:

‘I hope today isn’t the best day of your life’.

Now, lots of people couldn’t believe it. But I thought he had a point. And he went on to explain what he meant.

Focus On What Love Becomes

He was saying, and praying that, as the happy couple got to know each other more, as they navigated married life and their potential future family, etc., they would grow more in love and know the joy of being deeply committed and being there for each other.

Now modern-day wisdom tells us that the longer you’re in a relationship, the worse it will probably get.

At the start, you fall in love, want to spend all your time together, and think each other are perfect. We’re told to focus on this aspect of love, the super exciting bit where we’re doing everything for the first time. And when these bits are lost, we should feel like we’re missing out.

People don’t place value on what love evolves into

But just because love evolves over time and relationships change, it doesn’t mean new is better.

The problem is, people don’t place value on what love evolves into and what it becomes. Or why this answers our deepest need.

Unhelpful Perspective 

I had a friend who had been going out with a guy for five years. Then out of the blue, in a very bad way, he told my friend that he wanted to ‘go out and experience life’.

She basically said he wanted to go and meet new people, have the thrill of ‘chasing after’ new love interests and getting to know people he is romantically attracted to.

It was a real shame because they seemed to be happy for most of their relationship and she got really hurt. He wasn’t valuing what love evolves into. He thought new and different would make him happy.

Helpful Perspective

Having been in a relationship with my now wife for a total of nine years, I can say it has changed. It’s not about being ‘super’ excited or getting to know each other any more, which was all fun and great, but it has become something else.

We’re excited to be with each other but not because it’s new

It’s become a relationship where we trust each other no matter what, where we know each other’s worst qualities but still stick around, where we’re excited to be with each other but not because it’s new, but because of all the years of building something together.

It’s not the same as when we were first dating. It is different, but we no longer need to try and impress or worry about if the other person is as committed. And we still want to be together.

I’ve learned that each stage of love is different. One big problem is we can focus on the early stage and think that it’s better than the other stages, then these other stages can seem hard or pointless. This is why some people can get bored and their relationships can break down.

Deepest Need

Our deepest need is to feel loved. To know someone knows us and accepts us. In romantic relationships this can be expressed very uniquely in an incredible way. But these things can only develop over time and need to be valued and remembered. (Read What The Church Can Learn From The Science Of Love.)

These things can only develop over time

Instead of being shaped by films which focus on finding love rather than building a relationship, or adverts which says new is better, or stories that say there is a honeymoon period then it’s okay to complain about your partner to friends, let’s be shaped by something else.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we saw each stage of love as different, and adapted accordingly. Romantic relationships should always be exciting and healthy, but they should be evolving too. (Read Why I Chose To Think Differently About My Relationship.)

Instead of focusing only on stuff which happens/happened at the start of relationships; the stability, deep connection, trust and memories that come over time and cannot be created after a few months, need to be seen as important and valued as the relationship grows.

Do you think our society focuses too much on the start of romantic relationships? Comments welcomed below.   

Originally posted 20/11/2017

4 Strategies For Overcoming Our Biggest Dating Fears

Early Dating, Finding A Date

There’s lots of attention given to dating in the media, online, and in our culture. There’s also lots of talk about how fun it is and how easy it should be. Yet many of us still have dating fears because we’re not sure who to ask out, when to say yes, or how to start a relationship. These fears need to be addressed because they are real, but not impossible to overcome.  

As someone who writes a lot about dating and relationships, I think it’s important to explore how to date well and how to build mutually enjoyable relationships. I also think we need to remember that all relationships, romantic or otherwise, are meant to be fun and bless the people involved.

Yet despite all the advice and all the encouragement, I still meet people who are scared and worried when it comes to dating. I see it in the comments people leave on posts and on social media too.

This is especially true in some churches, where there is a big weight placed on people’s shoulder when it comes to dating. Many believe you should only date someone God tells you to and/or you should only date the person you marry. This can all build up a lot of fear and worry.

I think it’s important to explore some of these fears here because they are real and can really stop people pursuing a potentially life-changing relationship.

The 4 Fears

In my experience, there are 4 common fears and questions people ask when it comes dating. They are:

  • Will I Marry Them?
  • Do I Really Like Them?
  • What Do I Do On A First Date?
  • What If They Say No?

Will I Marry Them?

There are some Christians who believe that God will bring us ‘The One’, and/or before people go out with someone, they need to know (preferably through God’s audible voice) that they will end up getting married.

I have written before about the fact that I don’t believe in ‘the One’. I think God has a better plan for us, and believing in ‘the One’ just means we become terrified about choosing wrong. (Read Why Wouldn’t God Tell Me Who To Marry? and Why I Chose To Reject Finding ‘The One’)

I think the aim of dating isn’t marriage, it’s to see if you like each other, are compatible, and want to commit more to each other. Sometimes the answer is no and it ends. Sometimes the answer is yes, and it leads to an ‘official’ dating relationship, which could lead to a long-term dating relationship, which could then lead to marriage.

Your only aim at first is to just see if you like each other a bit more after each date

Overcoming this fear is not about trying to work out if you will get married straight away, but realising you don’t need to answer that question. Your only aim at first is to just see if you like each other a bit more after each date.

Do I Really Like Them?

Okay, so maybe you realise that marriage shouldn’t be at the forefront of your mind, but how do you even know who you like? Or what your type is? Or if you should go out on a date (again)?

I’m not going to say just go out with lots of people and say yes to everyone, because that can lead to more confusion and actually cause a lot of harm to yourself and others.

However, if you like someone or they like you, and you think there is (a bit of) a connection there, then you should go out on a date. People are often so quick to focus on other people’s negative traits and ignore the positive ones. By focusing on the positive traits and on the connection, the chance of a strong relationship growing is possible.

If you realise it won’t work after a few dates, then be honest and clear about that. But a date can help you decide if there is something worth pursuing. The fear of not knowing how much you like them shouldn’t stop us from finding out. (Read 2 Fears Every Single Person Should Confront!)

What Do I Do On A First Date?

So many people have never been on a date, or very rarely go on dates. If you’re single and have not been on a date for a year, you are in the majority.

There is no such thing as a perfect date, there will be slightly awkward moments

The best way to overcome this fear is to get some advice. What makes dating scary is the unknown, so having a bit of advice and knowing what to do can take away that fear. (Read What Should We Do On A First Date? Part 1).

There is no such thing as a perfect date, there will be slightly awkward moments, but we can get advice so we know what to expect, and calm our fears a bit.

What If They Say No?

The biggest fear is hearing a ‘no’ after asking someone out.

It’s embarrassing and gutting, especially if everyone else in church, or in your friendship group, hears about it. But sadly, this is a risk of dating. Sometimes people will say no and relationships will sadly end sometimes (Read What If You’re The One Who Got Dumped?).

The only strategy that can help is remembering to keep a healthy perspective

There are no magic words to make rejection ‘fun’ or ‘okay’. The only strategy that can help is remembering to keep a healthy perspective.

When rejection happens, it feels like the worst thing ever. However, we need to try and invest in other people and other things that fulfil us, so if it does happen we can realise it’s not the end of the world. Even though we are allowed to be upset. (Revealed: Why Some Break-Ups Feel Good (After A While)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we didn’t let our fear get in the way of a potentially amazing relationship. By remember these strategies, it will hopefully allow us to start dating, instead of being put off.

What one strategy can you start implementing today and how? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 13/11/2017

Saved By Faith Vs Saved By Belief: The Crucial Difference

What The Bible Says

In Jesus we are offered an unconditional loving relationship with God. An actual relationship. Yet we can unknowingly trade it in and settle for a ‘tick sheet of beliefs’. Being saved by faith is so different, yet we can forget this. But it’s so relational, so incredible, we can’t let ourselves think it’s the same thing. 

I remember going to an evangelism day at my old church. It was all about how to share the Gospel more with people around us, friends, family, colleagues, etc.

I’m always keen to learn more. This sort of thing never came naturally to me, but I love God and I want people to know him. So I went along ready to hear about how to share my faith better.

On the day though, it didn’t feel right. My issue was that all the teaching came down to telling people to come along to church. It was about inviting people along on a Sunday. This idea never sat well with me.

The goal is surely to connect people with Jesus

Now, I’m all for church and inviting people along, but the goal is surely to connect people with Jesus. If they find God and go to a different church, that’s great. I’m not trying to sell my brand of Christianity/church, it should be about introducing people to the living God.

Without going into all the details, it felt like we were being told to sell ‘our church’ first and foremost. When they came to our church, signed up to our style and our set of beliefs, then they were sorted. So sell your church and your ‘list of beliefs’.

Selling Something Different

As I’ve reflected on this over the years I’ve been more convinced that this is missing the mark. Mainly because we aren’t saved by belief, but we are saved by faith. Faith is what saves us, faith in Jesus.

Jesus is a person, a living being who is God. His death and resurrection is what restores and transforms. It’s a relationship with him that saves.

This is where an important distinction needs to be made. A set of beliefs cannot save us. Ticking the ‘agree box’ for a specific style of worship, leadership, Biblical interpretation, creation v evolution, etc., won’t save us. It’s only through a relationship with God.

My theology and my beliefs aren’t able to save me or anyone

Even though I love theology and wrestling with big questions, teaching others, learning more, and working out how it all impacts our lives, my theology and my beliefs aren’t able to save me or anyone else. (Read The Four Words Spoken By Jesus You Need To Hear.)

Faith Is Different 

Being saved by faith is different.

It’s about relating to God and knowing him and the sacrifice he made. But, there are Christians who have different beliefs to us in some areas. They wouldn’t agree with how we understand bits of the Bible and Christianity. Yet they’re just as saved as we are.

A relationship with God is what saves, not a relationship with a list of beliefs

I’m not saying what we believe doesn’t matter. I’m not saying thinking about what we believe isn’t important. But a relationship with God is what saves, not a relationship with a list of beliefs.

It really is amazing when you think about it. A God who is perfect and bigger than we could imagine wants us to draw close to him. Not take a test to earn his love, or fulfil a list of demands to gain his love, but to build a relationship with him. (Read The Cross Deals With More Than Just Forgiveness, Right?) 

We’re saved by faith in him. It’s incredible, and it should lead us to want to build a stronger relationship with him, and not just think through what we believe and then forget to relate to him.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we really did remember that Christianity is profoundly relational. That in God we find the ultimate loving relationship that can help guide and transform all of our other relationships.

What we believe is important, but having faith in Jesus is the starting point and the foundation.

Do you think Christians can unintentionally place their faith in a belief system rather than Jesus? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 6/11/2017