In our culture, through the media, through films, etc., we are constantly told that having a romantic relationship will make us happy. It’s for successful people and will solve everything. However, the truth is relationships reveal rather than resolve problems. They amplify what’s already going on. Happiness is not found in a relationship alone, but in wider attitudes and perspectives too.
I was at a conference last year exploring how the church can support people in romantic relationships more. Particularly those who are dating.
Despite what you may think, there wasn’t love hearts everywhere with sign up sheets for speed dating. It was more formal and structured discussions on the topic, and very interesting.
Is It Worth Supporting Single People?
At the end during the Q and A slot, someone anonymously asked the question ‘Is it worth supporting single people? When they get married won’t it all be okay?’
If people aren’t happy being single, they won’t be happy in a relationship
The panellist answered with a few comments, but the one thing that really stuck with me was: ‘Well research suggests that if people aren’t happy being single, they won’t be happy in a relationship’.
Truth vs Myth
This to me says a lot. Now there is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship. But this comment cuts to the heart of a myth that seems to be held by many in society. One that says once you’re in a relationship you will be happy and everything will be solved. But relationships reveal rather than resolve problems.
We can make the mistake of thinking that a/any relationship will make us happy. Or when we’re in a relationship we can mistakenly think that it will just be okay. But there are deeper things we need to do and remember if we want our relationships to thrive.
Relationships reveal rather than resolve problems
(The following extract is taken from page 100-102 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)
What are you into? What fulfils you? What activities or interests feed your soul and make you feel alive? What stretches you intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially? Where are your God-given uniqueness and potential being expressed?
This is a brilliant way of making sure your whole life isn’t about the next big relationship. Invest in loving your life, now. A friend of ours once said:
‘Most women in my church are not asking God about their calling or doing much because they are waiting for a husband. He will decide what they do. I think it’s a shame’. (Jenny)
Your life is already happening, and there’s so much for you to discover about yourself.
Your life is already happening, and there’s so much for you to discover about yourself. Try stepping out of your comfort zone: do something for others, like serving in church or volunteering in a community project.
You’ll experience a deeper sense of fulfilment. The more you appreciate the personality and gifts God has given you, the more confident you will be in sharing who you are in a relationship, without needing the other person to fulfil you.
Loving yourself more is a positive effect of being in a good relationship, but it isn’t a good reason for wanting a relationship.
All of us have days where we’re not big fans of ourselves, but if you struggle to really see what someone else could ever see in you, find someone you trust to talk it through with. This doesn’t make you weak – quite the opposite! It makes you intentional and active.
At the core of growing stronger is knowing that God’s opinion of us is enough. Have you noticed how it can be so easy to tell others that God loves them, but so hard to believe it for yourself?
We have a God who loves us unconditionally and calls us his children (Galatians 3:26 – 4:7) and his friends (John 15:12–15). This means that we are always somebody worth getting to know. He never regretted making us:
Investing in good and varied friendships, and developing your mind and interests, are all part of growing strong
‘I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.’ (Psalm 139:14) The psalmist is confident that God knows and rejoices in our specially designed lives. Jesus said that he alone brings life to the full (John 10:10).
God is the ultimate source of our identity and self-esteem, and in his generosity he has made us as social creatures, hungry for vast interactions with people, ideas and adventures. Investing in good and varied friendships, and developing your mind and interests, are all part of growing strong and preparing yourself for life and love.
If you’re currently single, you have a fantastic opportunity to embrace who you are now. Choosing to invest in your life and future doesn’t mean that you’re shutting the door on ever finding someone. It means you are being active and seeking God’s potential for your life. By doing this now, you’re giving yourself a head start.
If you’re already dating, investing in yourself doesn’t mean that you’re being selfish in your relationship. By giving each other the space to do things with other people (as well as together), it will enable your hearts and relationship to grow. (Read Dating Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint)
So what are you going to do? What looks fun to you? What ministry in your church needs more volunteers? Do things that look new or stretch you in different ways. See what happens when you tap into your God-given potential.
Not About Perfection
This isn’t about being perfect. I’m not saying if you sort out your flaws, then happiness is around the corner. I’m saying that a relationship won’t make us happy. But a life filled with friends, hobbies, faith is vital. No matter what our relationship status is.
No one is perfect, no one can be happy all the time
No one is perfect, no one can be happy all the time, but life is about more than romance. The mistake we can all make, which can weaken our relationships/future relationships, is thinking being part of a couple will sort it all out.
Imagine if, we remembered that relationships reveal rather than resolve problems. Investing in people, church, other interests, will help us make all of our relationships stronger. We can avoid the mistake of thinking will sort it all out. (Read Why I Chose To Think Differently About My Relationship).
Do you think this mistake is common and/or easy to make? Comments welcomed below.