Monthly Archives

August 2018

How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’. Part 1

Church Dating Culture, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

Many believe that if we wait long enough, or pray hard enough, we will just bump into our soul mate and that perfect person one day. But I think ‘Making The One’ is not only realistic (I don’t believe in ‘Finding The One’), it’s a better way to do it and brings real fulfilment. This two-part article begins to explain what this may look like. 

A good friend of mine, who I’ve spoken to lots about dating and relationships, has recently started dating someone. It’s been a good few months now, they seem very happy together, and it seems to be going well.

In amongst all of the highs and whirlwind romance, they have had to have honest conversations. They have had to learn about each other’s personality flaws, how they annoy each other, how they need to communicate, and what they should and can be expecting from their relationship. 

They actively made decisions and worked through some issues

They actively made decisions and worked through some issues, and this means they are able to enjoy their new relationship more.

They decided to work at ‘Making The One’, in an enjoyable, respectful, and honest way, and seem much happier because of it. It may work out long term, it may not, but they have built good foundations and managed to reduce the confusion along the way. As well as grow together and individually. 

Before we explore what ‘Making The One’ looks like, we need to realise this idea may be different from what we normally get told. 

(The following extract is taken from page 26-28 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)


Maybe you’re not expecting perfection in life or love. And maybe you’re not expecting God to give you a message in a bottle about who you should date. You just want to find someone you could possibly consider getting married to. 

So what part do you see God playing in that? How do you handle the challenges and possible confusions thrown up by dating? 

Looking For Something Different

One friend recently told us of her less-than-ideal first date with a man she was hoping might be Mr Right, only to find that he ‘turned up for the date with a tub of melted ice-cream in hand and a tacky oil painting from Marbella of boats in a harbour as a gift, and proceeded to tell me “just to clear the air” that he categorically did not believe women should preach, and that he was a good date compared to some!’

A friend and I once invited a couple of girls out to a fireworks display. The girls thought that a massive group of us were going, but we had ‘forgotten’ to tell them that it was a double date.

I was pulling out all my best chat-up lines and turning on the charm, so naturally, I was convinced that one of them liked me. The next day, just as I was about to ask her out, her boyfriend came up to me and introduced himself.


Looking For Help

Relationship-status confusions, clumsy comments, feeling too shy to truly be yourself all seem to be part of the pre-marriage relationship stage that we are left to navigate on our own. In researching this book, we’ve met people who feel really hopeful for their futures, as well as those who are hurt and confused by broken relationships. 

Wanting to know what God thinks about their relationships is a theme that runs through lots of these conversations. We’ve also come up against some pretty strange ideas about dating. 

God does want to be involved in your pre-marriage relationships

We’ve met Christians who believe that any form of pre-marriage romantic relationship is dishonouring to God; Christians who have developed a nervous tic around checking wedding ring fingers; Christians so crippled by sexual sin that they believe they don’t deserve a loving relationship; Christians who believe that their ‘romantic-God’ has their ideal guy/girl just waiting for them.

There seems to be so much confusion around dating that often gets in the way of discerning God’s guidance about our relationships.

The good news is that God does want to be involved in your pre-marriage relationships. He wants us to surrender every area of our lives to him, so that he can transform it for his glory. The question is: how? (Read Why Believing In ‘The One’ Is Very Overrated)

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

Imagine If…

Imagine if, instead of wondering if God has forgotten to introduce us to our ‘perfect-match’, if we have done something wrong, or if we are waiting for God to make it happen, we decided to be involved in the process. (Read Stories From The Dating Scene: God (Sort Of) Found Me ‘The One’)

Read Part 2 here, which begins to explore what taking steps towards ‘Making The One’ may look like. 

Do you think the idea of ‘Making The One’ is helpful? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 27/8/2018

The Simple Trick For Better Relationships That Most People Ignore


After having some conversations with friends, I came away feeling a bit upset. Then I was worried about if I had done the same thing to others recently! It’s such an easy mistake to make, but the impact can be huge. We all know it, but often forget it because we want to be heard; we need to remember to stop and listen, and not just talk and share our thoughts. 

So I was catching up with a friend the other week and I was really excited to share some news with him.

Now we’ve all been there. We have something exciting to share and want to tell others so that they can get excited too and support us, just like we support them when it’s the other way round.

So I told my friend this news, but sadly, he reacted differently to how I thought he would. He decided to explain why he would never make the same decision as me, in great detail.

We need people to really hear what we are saying and make us feel valued

I’m not exaggerating when I say for the next hour and 20 minutes he gave me a speech (no interruptions allowed). Then said as a throwaway line ‘If you want to do it though, then that’s fine, but…’. It was quite upsetting for me.

We’ve All Been There 

We’ve all had this happen to us haven’t we? Where we feel like we haven’t been listened to and come away from a conversation feeling rubbish.

I totally believe that sometimes we need to be challenged. We need people close to us to tell us like it is, we do not just want them to always agree. But we need to be listened to as well. We need people to really hear what we are saying and make us feel valued.

I remember arranging to meet up with another person who I had just started to get to know. I thought it would be good to hang out together. However, when we did meet up, they just spoke about themselves the whole time.

A genuine, relationship-building conversation involves two people really listening and allowing each other to express themselves. When it’s just all about them, you leave feeling rubbish. (Assuming of course, there isn’t a crisis that they need to talk about in-depth).

We’ve All Done It

But then I started to worry about the times I had done that, or got carried away myself. Taking over all of the space and conversation and not really stopping to listen.

I think I can end up doing it, especially when I’m tired or it has been a long day. I find it much harder to listen. To be fully present. I felt bad about the times when I recently forgot to really hear what others were saying and made other people feel like they weren’t listened to.

The relationship is weakened when we make it about ‘me’ rather than ‘us’

We can all make mistakes can’t we? And get it wrong. But when we forget to really take in what our friend, or our other half, or the other person is saying, the relationship is weakened when we make it about ‘me’ rather than ‘us’. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)

Just Stop

I remember ages and ages ago during a talk, someone saying: ‘The next time you are talking to someone, just stop talking, and really listen. Because people have a lot to say, and they need to be heard.’

This has always stuck with me. Especially in a society that tells us that to be worth something we need to be the centre of attention, need to be the ‘most unique person’ that everyone is talking about. But investing in the relationship is what will answer our deepest need, rather than just focusing on ourselves. (Read Revealed: The Best Way To Build Better Friendships, In Half The Time?!)

Valuing the other person and what they have to say

All of this stuff you probably know already. You’ve probably heard it before. But it’s so easy to forget, to just want to talk, to get carried away.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remember this simple but powerful idea. That we don’t just sit there in silence during a ‘conversation’ waiting to talk again. But intentionally listened and really took on board what people were saying. That they went away feeling listened too. When we forget this simple trick, it makes our relationships weaker.

For some people, this will be hard, for others it will be harder, but loving people and building relationships starts by valuing the other person and what they have to say.

How will you remind yourself to practice this simple piece of advice? Comments welcomed. 

Originally posted 20/8/2018

Why You Should Remember That ‘Romance’ On Its Own Is Rubbish

Finding A Date, Interesting Research

Romance is a gift from God. I believe we’re meant to enjoy it. But if we only pursue romance, our foundations won’t be able to sustain the relationship we are craving and trying to build. We need to remember it’s not enough on its own to make a relationship last.

(The following extract is taken from page 48-50 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)


It’s fascinating to see the rise of romance and how it goes hand in hand with dating. We now have a dating culture because Western societies accept that:

1. We are free to choose whoever we want as our boy/girlfriend or spouse.
2. Relationships are allowed (often expected) to be temporary and non-committal.
3. Romantic desire or ‘falling in love’ is the most important ingredient in any (new) relationship.

‘Dating’ might go by lots of different names: ‘going out’, ‘hooking up’, ‘getting together’, ‘going steady’, ‘seeing someone’. But whatever we call it, dating is always about two people looking for and fostering an emotional bond. By its very definition, it doesn’t need to be exclusive or committed, and if it’s not satisfying, end it!

Catching Our Eye

Today nothing receives more attention in popular media than romance.

We love the idea of falling in love. Nearly every song is about being in love – or losing it. Every good film needs romance, whether it’s a chick flick obsessed with ‘the one’, or an action movie where the hero gets the villain and the girl thrown in for good measure, or the kids’ story with the happily-ever-after ending.

The rise of romance has made love and romantic relationships the meaning of life

Magazines and newspapers are filled with tips for finding love, and a whole industry rotates around celebrities’ love lives. Closer to home, social media provides us with immediate updates on friends’ relationship statuses, complete with snaps of their happy moments.

Everything is telling us that romance rules and that, without this kind of love, we can’t be happy. The rise of romance has made love and romantic relationships the meaning of life.

Weak Foundations

But our focus on romance has its problems. In her sequel to Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert travels the world, exploring attitudes to love and marriage. Her discovery is that:

‘Whenever a conservative culture of arranged marriage is replaced by an expressive culture of people choosing their own partners based on love, divorce rates will immediately begin to sky rocket. . . about five minutes after people start clamouring for the right to choose their own spouses based on love, they will begin clamouring for the right to divorce those spouses once that love has died.’

Romance is something that looks good in the shop, but when you take it home it can sometimes be a bit of a let-down.

Fragile, haphazard and selfish

The side effects can’t be ignored. Dating in a way that focuses primarily on romantic feelings makes the relationship more likely to be fragile, haphazard and selfish.

Triple Threat

Relationships become fragile because feelings are always shifting and changing. If people believe that relationships are only ‘successful’ when they have romantic feelings, then when those feelings are lost, or weaken, what happens to the relationship? The result is a rise in the divorce rate in recent times, which has clearly risen overall in the last fifty years.

They become haphazard because valuing feelings above commitment can leave the relationship in a kind of no man’s land. Instead of intentionally and selflessly investing in their relationship, people think, ‘I’ll see how I feel.’ Thinking this, or ‘It’s not serious or anything; we just like each other’, means that no-one knows where they stand.

They become more selfish because, in the end, you’re focused on how you feel and what you want, and the relationship just rolls along unintentionally with no defined purpose or commitment. It also breeds a selfish attitude towards relationships and to each other: ‘I’ll date as long as I am happy’; ‘I’ll only commit to you as long as I want to. If it gets hard, it’s over.’

Is there another way?

Dating lots of people, and pursuing temporary relationships in search of an ‘emotional high’, can cause damage.

We can end up feeling hurt, rejected and lonely. So if dating this way is causing so much heartache and insecurity in relationships, should a romance revolution do away with romance altogether, or is there another way? (Read 2 Strategies for Surviving The Changing World Of Dating)

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

Imagine If…

I have written many times about the fact that we should enjoy dating and relationships, but we need to approach it with healthy expectations and lay good foundations too (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)

Imagine if we remembered that romance is amazing, but on its own it is rubbish. Healthy long-lasting relationships involve many other elements too. These elements, along with romance, can help us build the great relationship we’re looking for.

How often do we get told relationships are about more than just romance? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 13/8/2018

15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships

Early Dating, Interesting Research

Making decisions are hard. We have more access to information and statistics to help us make decisions, but picking romantic partners isn’t just about science. It’s about connection, love, and committing to building something together. So how do we work out if we can make it work? These 15 questions will help bring some clarity. 

If you’ve ever read anything else on this website, you’ll know that I’m really passionate about us all being intentional in our relationships and relationship choices. Relationships are meant to be enjoyed, but I believe thinking things through and being purposeful is part of creating the enjoyment.

My friend asked me the other day how my marriage was going. Thankfully, I could say it was really good and we are really happy. The only time we were struggling a bit was when we stopped being intentional, started taking it for granted, and we had to re-focus on our intentionality.

15 Tried and Tested Questions

After chatting to my friend, I came across these 15 questions in a great article by Dr. Gary Lewandowski Jr., the renowned psychology professor and relationship scientist.

These questions can help us to focus on what’s important

He listed 15 questions based on his and other people’s research on love and healthy relationships. He acknowledges relationships aren’t based purely on science, but these questions can help us to focus on what is important, and help us decide if there is a real and authentic connection there.

So here are the questions worth asking ourselves and each other, to see if our relationship is healthy, and on the path to being mutually fulfilling:

1) Does your partner make you a better person, and do you do the same for them?
2) Are you and your partner both comfortable with sharing feelings, relying on each other, being close, and able to avoid worrying about the other person leaving?
3) Do you and your partner accept each other for who you are, without trying to change each other?
4) When disagreements arise, do you and your partner communicate respectfully and without contempt or negativity?
5) Do you and your partner share decision-making, power, and influence in the relationship?
6) Is your partner your best friend, and are you theirs?
7) Do you and your partner think more in terms of “we” and “us,” rather than “you” and “I”?
8) Would you and your partner trust each other with the passwords to social media and bank accounts?
9) Do you and your partner have good opinions of each other – without having an overinflated positive view?
10) Do your close friends, as well as your partner’s, think you have a great relationship that will stand the test of time?
11) Is your relationship free of red flags like cheating, jealousy and controlling behaviour?
12) Do you and your partner share the same values when it comes to politics, religion, the importance of marriage, the desire to have kids (or not) and how to parent?
13) Are you and your partner willing to sacrifice your own needs, desires, and goals for each other (without being a doormat)?
14) Do you and your partner both have agreeable and emotionally stable personalities?
15) What are you and your partner’s views on sex, and are you thinking about it in a healthy way?

I think this list is really helpful because it’s focused on couples building something together, rather than on ‘What can I get out of this?’. But there are some questions I think need to be tweaked or explained slightly.

Sexually Compatibility

As a Christian, I believe that God created sex and wants to bless us with it in the right context. (Read God Created Sex and Sexual Desire, Honest!).

Originally, the last question on the list said: ‘Are you and your partner sexually compatible?’ But for me, who thinks committing/ re-committing to waiting until marriage ’til sex is God’s best for us, this important question wasn’t framed quite right.

Sexual compatibility and satisfaction is more to do with how we view sex

I say this because people often think ‘sexual satisfaction’ means sex with lots of people, which then means they’ll be happy. However, research suggests sexual compatibility and satisfaction is more to do with how we view sex, rather than what experiences we’ve had. (Read I’m Getting Married, I’ll Be Having Sex Soon….Help!)

So I believe discussing views and values around sex is more important when thinking about building healthy relationships, and will be more beneficial.

Best Friend, Not Only Friend

I also think it’s worth emphasising that question 6 says ‘Is your partner your best friend?’, rather than ’your only friend’. Often we can ignore other friendships and expect our romantic relationships to be the source of all our comfort and worth. Which it can never be.

Maintaining and investing in our friendships is important, and also makes our romantic relationship stronger. (Read I Can’t Come, I’m With My Girlfriend, Again!)

Emotionally Stable

Number 14 says ‘Do you and your partner both have agreeable and emotionally stable personalities?’. Now, in a world where mental health is still often taboo but affects so many people, this question can be misinterpreted.

Being willing to support each other

I would emphasise that it doesn’t mean we need to be perfect, or never struggle emotionally, or have personalities that are totally complimentary or identical. It’s more about being willing to support each other and deciding to be purposeful about learning to do that better.

Perfection isn’t needed, but a commitment to making it work is. (Read Quick Guide: Discover What All Good Dating Relationship Have In Common)

Imagine If…

You may be dating, engaged, looking for love, or married. You may have some concerns, be keen to make a good relationship great, or just want to keep building something worth having.

Imagine if we used these questions to help us make sure we were building something together, in a selfless, mutually enjoyable, and fulfilling way. How amazing would it be, if we took practical steps, to make sure we could answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions?

What is the first thing you need to do after reading these questions? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 6/8/2018