Monthly Archives

December 2017

Repost: The Cross Needs To Be Forgotten At Christmas

What The Bible Says

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. The king of the universe, the all-powerful God, who chose to become human and connect with us on our level. It’s amazing. So often we think Jesus just became human to get to the cross. But the truth is, his birth was the beginning of a life-changing relationship.

I thought I would keep up the recently instigated Christmas tradition, and point you to the Christmas post I wrote a few years ago. Every time I read it I’m reminded how important the birth of Jesus is, and how easily it can be overlooked. Which is why I’m keen to highlight the post again this year.

As you celebrate Christmas, I hope you find time to reflect on the amazing relationship Jesus offered us by coming down and being born a human, and are overwhelmed by what he offers us, and what he went through in order to truly connect with us…

Read The Cross Needs To Be Forgotten At Christmas.

Originally posted 25/12/2017

The Worst Advice You Can Hear About Rejection

Break- Ups, Finding A Date

Dating often involves rejection. Us finding someone may involve disappointments along the way. When we face rejection, we’re usually told to just ignore it and move on. But that rarely helps. We can only ignore it to a point, before we start to question ourselves, worry that we’re not enough, and maybe feel like giving up. We need advice that offers us more.

My colleagues always tease me and comment that all my posts start with me saying ‘I was talking to a friend the other day…’. They joke that I cannot be having this many conversations with people about relationships, and/or that no one can have that many friends.

I always smile and say that I do indeed love to talk about dating, relationships, and faith with lots of people (maybe too much), and I do have many friends! In fact, I was talking to one last week (honest) about her experience of online dating.

We were talking about the fear she had around online dating.

She said she didn’t want to use it at first, but gave it a go because her friends were encouraging her to, she was celebrating another birthday and was a year older, and there was still no one in her current social circle to date.

Looking Back

She has now found someone and is very happy in her relationship. As she was talking to me she was reflecting on what her experience was like. Especially because she never really wanted to use online dating in the first place.

She put it off for so long because of her fear of rejection

One thing she said which really struck me, was that she put it off for so long because of her fear of rejection.

This fear can be overwhelming whether we’re dating online or offline. The fear of meeting some you like, then they just end it and say no thanks. Or when it comes to online dating in particular, just the thought of knowing that people are looking at your profile, but deciding not to take it further.

It can be hard. My friend found this part of her online dating experience very hard.


This conversation reminded me that talking about how we can date well, and how to prepare for a date, etc., is important, but some people are still trying to get over some initial barriers.

The thought of going through any rejection is a big barrier. Especially when the reality is it could happen more than once as we search for someone.

We end up questioning what went wrong, if there’s something wrong with ‘me’

Most of the time, people say ‘just ignore it and move on’. While moving on is important (Read Revealed: Why Some Break-Ups Feel Good (After A While)), ignoring it is often not possible. We end up questioning what went wrong, if there’s something wrong with ‘me’, why it happened again, and getting our confidence knocked along the way.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee for avoiding rejection when we date, but we can think about how to overcome this barrier and replace some bad advice about rejection, with some good advice.

What To Do

There isn’t a simple solution on offer, but after talking to my friend, and thinking about some other experiences too, I hope that some/all/a mixture of the following points can help us get past the fear of, and the experience of, rejection.

Not Everyone Will Like Everyone  

Firstly, we need a way to remind ourselves that not everyone will like everyone. If we could just start a fulfilling relationship with anyone, we would marry the first person we bumped into. But it doesn’t work like that.

There are good and nice people out there who we will not like romantically, and vice versa. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean we’re being rejected as a person, it just means it won’t work out. Not everyone is suited.

Some People Need A Distraction 

It can be hard though, if you like someone and thought a date went well and they then feel differently. And you may just naturally dwell on it. That is understandable.

So you may need a distraction. We can’t ignore it, but we can’t dwell and obsess over it either.  I’ve written about the importance of planning something in for the day after you go on a date because it will help you keep a healthy perspective. (Read The 3 Best Ways To Prepare For A Date).

We need ways to remember our lives are about more than just dating

We need ways to remember our lives are about more than just dating, especially if we have a negative experience of rejection. Doing something we find fun and fulfilling the day after a date can help us do that.

We Need To Talk About It

Often (online) dating is done in secret, and we don’t let many people know about it. Or we just tell people the good stories, and not about the times we felt hurt or let down by it. But we need to talk about the times it went wrong.

We need to share it and process it with people we trust, otherwise, the fear and rejection can really start to negatively impact, or even stop, our search for love. We need reassurance and support. (Read )

We May Need A Break

Dating is in many ways about perseverance. But no one can go full pelt indefinitely. We all need a break, and time away from things so we can re-group.

If it’s been hard lately, maybe we need some time away.

Imagine If…

No one likes rejection, it affects us and we can’t just ignore it. But we can find ways to overcome the fear as we enter this crazy thing called dating.

Imagine if we stopped letting it hinder our search by remembering that: Not Everyone Will Like Everyone, Some People Need A Distraction, We Need To Talk About It, and We May Need A Break.

What others good bits of advice can you think of? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 18/12/2017

How Pausing To Reflect Could Save Your Dating Life

Healthy Relationship Rhythms

Dating can be full of disappointments and situations we regret. No one is perfect. But we can stop to think and reflect on why our last relationship didn’t work out, why the last date may have been awkward, etc. It’s not about blaming ourselves but learning from what has happened so next time we can build something better. 

My wife recently told me about a conversation she had with a group of her friends, none of whom are Christians.

They were discussing their relationships, some are married but many are dating or single. And they were giving my wife a bit of a friendly grilling.

They couldn’t understand why we didn’t live together before we got married, why we waited ’til after marriage to have sex. They were asking questions like: Do you think you missed out? Do you enjoy your relationship? What would you do differently? How could you be sure he would make you happy?

I went in thinking about what can I give

Then my wife, after a few questions said ‘Well you’re asking questions that are all to do with me, and what can I get out of it. But I went in thinking about what can I give.’

They admitted they had never really thought about their relationships like that before.

Pause and Reflect 

I’ve often written about the fact that no one is perfect, and dating well is not about getting rid of all your flaws or anything like that. (Read How ‘Decisions’ Along With ‘Love’ Can Create Healthy Relationships).

But stopping and pausing to think about what type of relationship we want to build, why our last relationship didn’t work out, what we can learn from our last date, can help us. In a world that says it is all about ‘me getting’, we need to remember a relationship involves two people ‘giving’.

It may be painful and a bit scary to reflect on our blind spots, but it could help us avoid the relationships or situations that harm us, and focus us on building something better.

(The following extract is taken from page 126-127 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Blind Spots

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Dating offers us a brilliant opportunity to see ourselves in new ways. Taking a clear look at yourself and your past or current relationships might feel uncomfortable, but it helps you to see things as they really are.

Being attracted to someone will always make us act a little as though we’re wearing a pair of rose-tinted glasses: we will see things in slightly distorted ways. But there’s a difference between being blind to someone’s faults in the early days of infatuation and adopting a blinkered approach to every new relationship.

The Bible says that falling in love can be like playing with fire, so it matters

You know you’re in trouble when you find yourself imagining being married to everyone you talk to! Or you find yourself trying to turn your girl or guy into your ‘perfect’ ex or when you have a crush on that married person.

We guys might think we’re immune from this, but many imagine themselves going on dates or making out with a gorgeous girl, even before they’ve ever spoken to her! (Read Real Stories From People Who ‘Fell Off Pedestals’)

The Bible says that falling in love can be like playing with fire, so it matters that we practice seeing clearly, even as our hearts are running wild!

Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe – and you’re ready.
(Song of Solomon 2:7)

Tough Questions 

So here are some questions to help you identify your blind spots and practice seeing yourself and your relationship clearly:

1. What are you like when you’re dating someone?

2. If you have never dated, what are you like around the people you fancy?

3. Do you find it easy to be yourself, or do you find that you become someone else?

4. How would you describe your previous relationships? Intense? Healthy? Bad? Fun? Brief? Stable?

5. Do you drift from one ‘unsuitable’ relationship to another? Why do you think you do this?

6. Do you find yourself staying longer in a relationship than you should? Why do you think you do this?

7. If you have never dated, do you think you spend too much time trying to change the ‘true you’ to become what you think people will like? Will that create the potential for an open and honest relationship?

8. Do you have a ‘type’ when it comes to who you are attracted to? How would you describe it?

9. Do you need to review the ‘type’ of person you go for all the time?

10. Do you spend so much time checking someone against your ‘list of perfection’ that you don’t give them a chance?

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine If…

Intentionally focus on building something good together

No answers to any of these questions makes you a bad person. But I hope they get you thinking, or help you to do things differently. So that you can approach your (next) relationship differently, in a way that allows you to build something together.

Imagine if we didn’t just unintentionally expect someone to come and give us everything we wanted in a relationship, but we intentionally focussed on building something good together, examining how we could be part of that.

What other good questions may be worth asking? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 11/12/2017

Stories From The Dating Scene: An Exciting Start, Then We Drifted

Guest Blogs, Real Life Stories

When it comes to romance in Films, TV shows, Novels, and the Media, it’s usually all about the chase. If the chase is exciting and there are obstacles to overcome before the couple ‘get together’, then they will live happily ever after. Right? Well, sometimes a relationship can end up drifting and sadly end as the couple becomes unintentional, as this story shows… 

This story has been written by someone I know. He told me this story, some of which I still can’t quite believe, and I asked him to write it down. It’s honest and it’s real, but he asked to stay anonymous.

His story reminds me that so often we focus on how a relationship starts and then assume it will work out. Well, he learned a lesson about long distance, and why thinking long-term is important.

So here’s his story, in his own words:

Love At First Sight

We’ve all been there; packed our bags, stocked up on pot noodles, wet-wipes and Lynx, AKA ‘a shower in a can’, and headed off to a Christian festival. You’d be lying if you said a small part of you didn’t hope to meet your future spouse over the next few days.

For us rural boys we never knew so many girls existed, let alone attractive Christian girls.

I was officially distracted

During my many annual visits to said festival, I would always tell myself: come on, don’t get distracted this year, but then this year… WOW! There she was, the most beautiful girl I have ever laid eyes on. I was officially distracted.

We spent the next five days doing nothing but hanging out together and falling for each other. Nothing untoward happened and the last day came. We said our goodbyes and agreed to call each other in the days to come.

Why Didn’t She Call?

This is pre-mobile days, which tells you something of my age now. To this day I still don’t know why I only gave her my number and didn’t take hers… Stupid boy!

We hugged and waved goodbye. Man, we probably wrote in the back of each other’s Bible as well… Do the kids still do that these days?

So I go back home and wait for her to phone me. A day passes, “ok, she’s just settling back in”. Two days, “she’s probably unpacking”. Three days pass “nothing”, four days, “nothing”, you see where this is going.

Happy Ending? 

Three weeks pass, summer is almost over and my gap year is about to begin.  Then… “Ring, ring… ring, ring” and what follows is my best transcript of what she said.

“I’m so sorry, I owe you a massive apology”. Too right, I’m thinking.

“There is a perfectly legitimate and valid reason for my rudeness, I miss you so much and can’t believe what’s happened, don’t be shocked but… my house burnt down!”

Stunned pause on my part. “Really?”

“Yes, really! Within days of returning our whole house went up in smoke; as a family, we’ve lost everything. Including my only way of contacting you – the piece of paper with your number on is now ashes”.

“Wow”, I thought to myself.

So we planned to see each other ASAP. We had this great long distance thing going on for about 3 months. I remember on my first visit to her new temporary home, her Dad put me to the test. We went to B&Q and he made me load the trolley with bag after bag of compost. I think I passed.

I also went to see her old house and she wasn’t kidding. The whole place was black, a ruin. Good job she’d bumped into someone I knew at her church and got my number off them.

Sadly there is a sore point to this story and that is why I’m now so careful around an open flame. (Read I Want To Trust Them But I’ve Been Hurt Before)

Then We Drifted 

When her insurance money came through she told me she wanted to travel the world. Great I thought, I’m on my gap year and we can go together. Unfortunately, my gap year ended up with me on job seekers and eventually getting a job in Gap, the clothing store. By which time she was halfway around the world.

And yes dear reader, the unthinkable happened… I was dumped by email! Gutted!

But I do have some sage-like wisdom. After this, I probably had only one other serious long-distance relationship. The thing I learned is that they will only ever work if early on you commit to planning on being together in the same place at some point in the future.

Long distance is never meant to be permanent

That doesn’t mean you have to “put a ring on it”, but without a plan to at least live in the same town/village/city/hamlet one day, you will never be together for long. Long distance is never meant to be permanent. (Read Can Our Relationship Go The Long Distance?)

The exciting “against the odds” start made me feel it was meant to be, but we just let it drift without any intentional planning after that. It’s a shame really.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we made sure that a relationship wasn’t always about the chase, that an exciting start doesn’t automatically mean a happy ending. Being intentional and thinking long-term can help us avoid getting hurt and hurting others.

Do you think an ‘exciting start’ can cloud people’s judgment? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 4/12/2017