Early Dating

‘It’s Kinder To Say No To A Second Date’. Here’s Why

Early Dating

After going on a date, there is often the situation where one person is waiting to hear back and wanting a second date, while the other person doesn’t want to take it any further. Sadly, most people just ‘ghost ‘ and never reply. They may believe this is kinder than saying ‘I don’t like you’, but ignoring people is never kind. We need to get better at gently letting them know how we feel.  

Most of us have probably heard of the term ‘ghosting’, which is when someone we went on a date/ a few dates with, or were messaging and getting on with, suddenly ends all contact without giving a reason. 

This is often attributed to the fact that people are quite selfish, and don’t really care about the other person’s feelings. They’re happy just thinking about themselves and ending contact because that’s easiest for them, which sadly I think is true in a lot of cases. 

However, another reason behind this has been highlighted to me in a few different ways recently too, especially when we’re talking about Christian dating cultures. 

Ghosting Is Kinder, Right?

A friend of mine was telling me about her friend. She’s a Christian and is dating and hoping to find someone. She is only dating Christian men as she believes this should be an important part of the relationship. (Read Why does everyone tell me not to date a non-Christian?) 

Unfortunately, a few dates have ended with the guys not contacting her and/or not texting back. She would message them a few times, and eventually, some of them would reply but make up really bad excuses. 

They were bad excuses that just made her feel worse

‘I do like you, but I need to do XYZ, so we can’t date’. Or ‘I need to sort out my finances/relationship with God/things in my life’. Or ‘I shouldn’t really date right now’. She would wonder why they are on dating apps in the first place!

In other words, they were bad excuses that just made her feel worse.  

On the other hand, many of them just wouldn’t take responsibility for the situation, and just ignored it and didn’t acknowledge it. AKA ‘ghosting’.

Other friends have shared similar stories, which is upsetting. You would hope that Christians would be prepared to do it differently, yet it’s not always the case. 

It Causes More Hurt 

Dating is full of confusion, guesswork, and wondering ‘what if’, which it causes a lot of hurt. Dating well, dating differently, involves trying to reduce these feelings, not only ourselves but for the people we date. 

Sometimes, we can convince ourselves that saying to someone ‘I don’t want a second date with you’ seems harsh, so we make up bad excuses, or just ignore the problem. All of these things can actually leave people feeling hurt. 

Many people say to me things like ‘It would actually be better if they just let me know where they stood, rather than ignoring me or giving some rubbish reason. It’s so disrespectful.’ 

If we aren’t saying anything because it will be ‘awkward for me’, then that’s quite a selfish attitude. We’re not being kind, or loving our neighbour in a dating context, if we are just thinking about ‘my needs’. 

The kinder thing to do is to just say you don’t want to go on a second date. 

What To Say

Getting in touch to tell them that you don’t want a second date may indeed be a bit awkward for you. But it’s kinder to put their feelings first and push through the awkwardness, to let them know where you stand, so they avoid feeling confused and unsure.

We need to get better at just saying, ‘I don’t want a second date because I don’t think we’re a good match’.

Do not make it about them, or about you, just say that you don’t think you are suited

You don’t need to make up a bad excuse, you don’t need to go into detail (even if they ask why), you don’t need to point out their flaws, you just need to say you don’t think you are suited long-term. 

Do not make it about them, or about you, just say that you don’t think you’re suited. 

Easier Said Than Done 

I’m fully aware this is easier to say than do, because it’s counter-cultural, and it’s easier to ignore a problem than face it. But I think Christian dating should be different. (Read Can We Really Trust What Our Culture Says About Relationships?) 

We should be selfless, avoid hurting each other, and realise if we were in their position then we would want to know and be told. It is kinder and more respectful. 

Imagine If…

At least they were treated well and not just ignored

Imagine if we decided to date differently. If we remembered that the search for love is hard enough, without us making it harder for each other. (Read What Does Christian Dating Look Like?)

Imagine if we remembered that it’s better to let people know where we stand and got better at saying ‘I don’t want another date because we are not a match’. Even if they are disappointed, even if they have some unanswered questions, at least they were treated well and not just ignored. Everyone knows where they stand, and it will let us move on better and quicker.

Why are we so bad at letting people know where we stand? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 10/6/2019

How To Navigate The Confusing Messages From Our Dating Culture. Pt 2.

Early Dating, Finding A Date

Part 2 of this blog continues to look at some of the conflicting messages the dating culture throws at us and lets us think about how we could respond to this confusing information. This will enable us to date in a way that’s more enjoyable and more fulfilling.

Part 1 of this post said that we should practice kindness and commit to the person in front of us, to avoid being overwhelmed by the confusing messages surround dating. Part 2 continues to look at the next 3 responses which can help us.

#3 Inner Value Vs It’s A Stepping Stone

Another reason why the dating culture is a bit strange is that it’s often presented as ‘just’ a step to something else. It’s part of the process which leads to marriage/a long-term committed relationship. This means it can be treated as something to be rushed or endured.

However, dating in and of itself can have meaning. I think it can bring enjoyment, fulfilment, and mutual flourishing. It has value and can add value.

That’s hard though, isn’t it? We’re being told to think about the future and where the relationship is heading, which is a good thing. Meaning in some ways, it is a stepping stone. Yet at the same time, we don’t want that future potential to dominate and put too much pressure on our present dates.

I think we need to respond by being intentional

It’s confusing, but I think a helpful response would be to practice ‘being intentional’.

We need to be intentional in our dating in the present. We need to think about how we’re approaching it in a mutually fulfilling way right now (Read How To Make Your New Dating Relationships Last) Being intentional will also allow us to think long-term too because it means we will need to also think about where we’re heading.

The response here helps us to seek some kind of balance. Thinking about how the relationship is evolving now and putting effort into the present, as well as thinking about where it’s heading, are both important. It reminds us not to rush the process or drift along too much.

#4 Dating Is Fun Vs Dating Is Serious

I’m sure many of us can relate to the idea that dating should be fun, but we also hear it’s serious too. It’s serious because it involves people who can get hurt.

So on the other hand, dating is meant to be about finding a connection, enjoying getting to know someone, and falling in love. I mean, we don’t want to end up with someone who we can’t have fun with.

However, we can’t have fun at other people’s expense, and this conflict can bring up a lot of confusion. We need to relax, but make sure we are taking it seriously and not hurting other people. It can be hard to get the balance right when we date.

In life, there are times when we need to be serious, and times when we need to relax. I think it’s worth asking ourselves which tendency we’re naturally drawn to?

If we recognise we are quite serious when it comes to dating, it’s worth learning to enjoy it a bit more. If we focus on the fun elements, it’s probably worth thinking about how to approach it more seriously so we don’t end up drifting too much.

In other words, let’s try to remember to do the aspect which doesn’t come naturally to us. That way we can respond better and foster healthily balanced approaches.

#5 What You Want Vs Cultural Norms

This confusing situation isn’t unique to dating. We’re told to do what we want and what makes us happy. Yet, there are norms that are established by the culture around us that are bigger than us.

For example, we may not want to use dating apps and online dating, but they’re so ingrained in the dating culture now and used by so many people, that we’re affected by them even if we don’t want to be. (Read )

It’s too easy to get swept up in what’s going on

The truth is the dating culture includes countless people. Some of them follow the norms that value people and take dating seriously, others follow norms that do not. While many are affected by both to some extent. This means we can end up with someone who is thinking very differently to us, so we can’t just do what we want, as it may conflict with what they want.

It’s worth pausing, and asking what you’re trying to achieve? What your expectations are and how you want to act?

We need to bring discipleship into dating and commit to doing it in a healthy way and pursuing it in a way that makes us feel comfortable and honours those around us. And not be too drawn to other people’s unhealthy expectations, or our own unrealistic expectations, too much. (Read Amazing, Enjoyable, But Not Easy. The Secret Behind Great Relationships)

Imagine If…

Dating is confusing and throws up loads of messages that don’t quite fit together. By learning to respond well, I think we can raise the enjoyment and reduce this confusion.

Imagine if we practice being intentional, remember dating should be fun but taken seriously, and commit to dating differently.

What other dating culture contradictions can you think of? Comment welcomed below.

Originally posted 15/4/2019

How To Navigate The Confusing Messages From Our Dating Culture. Pt 1

Early Dating, Finding A Date

Our dating culture bombards us with conflicting messages: ‘It’s about finding someone to commit to, but date several people at once’. Or ‘Dating shouldn’t be rushed, but it’s a step to something else’. Part 1 of this blog begins to unpack how we can stop our heads from spinning, and learn to date in a truly fulfilling way, by reducing this confusion. 

When I talk to people about dating, I’m struck by the wide-ranging assumptions and ideas that are out there. 

Society’s shift in understanding marriage/romantic relationships has totally changed in recent decades and had a big effect. Add to this technology and dating apps, which has totally altered the way people interact now. Some people use them to truly find someone, while others use them for less noble means.

All of this results in the fact that we’re carving out this thing called dating as we go along, with so much changing, conflicting norms, and a higher level of confusion (Read Why Our Distant Relatives Reduced Romance, In Their Non-Dating Cultures.)

Reduce The Confusion 

Deciding if the person in front of you is worth committing to for life, and vice versa, is hard enough. It’s made harder when the rules for dating seem to be shifting constantly, and when people’s expectations and assumptions vary too. 

This all leads to more and more confusion. 

So it’s worth thinking about five of these contradicting messages we hear, as well as coming up with responses that can reduce the confusion while raising the clarity and the enjoyment that good dating can offer us.  

#1 A Big Deal vs Not A Big Deal

We’re told that dating needs to be a big deal. It’s something we need to invest in, give a lot of time, thinking and resource to in order to do it well. Yet, we’re also told it’s not a big deal and just a bit of fun, so we don’t end up adding too much pressure. 

Respond by remembering to practice kindness

This conflicting message can cause a lot of damage. There are people dating and investing and hoping for a lot, and others are being (too) laid back. These two extreme approaches mean people are getting hurt.

This is confusing for us and those involved.

I would say we need to respond by remembering to practice kindness. It’s something that is forgotten too quickly in a dating culture which makes it all about ‘me’ and ‘my needs’. 

Some people are investing a lot, others are trying to not put too much pressure on themselves. Both approaches are valid to an extent, but we’re dating real people with real emotions. So we need to remember that no matter how we’re told to approach dating, it needs to be built on kindness, and treating people well.

This way, we will remember that being ‘too’ laid back cannot mean treating people badly because we just want to have fun, or not being honest and communicating with them about how we feel. If we’re investing a lot, it reminds us to be kind to ourselves and remember that people are in front of us and not ‘projects’. Our different perspectives need to be discussed and understood (Read Dating Someone? Commitment Assumptions Can Cause Cracks)    

#2 Date Loads of People Vs Commit To One

Dating is a strange concept if you think about it. All the research shows that most people who are dating, say again and again, that ultimately they want to find one person to commit to for life. Yet we’re told to be non-committal and date as many people as possible. 

It’s strange because we’re aiming to find a faithful relationship, but told to practice non-faithful habits. 

I’ve written before about this (Read What Does Faithfulness Look Like When I’m Dating?). Now, while I acknowledge dating isn’t marriage, the commitment level will naturally never be as high, and it is valid to date more than one person in our search for love, having no commitment means we’re practising something which won’t give us the result we want. 

I always say, the principle of ‘committing to the person in front of you’ is key. 

At least you’ve given it the best possible foundation

This doesn’t mean the first/next person you date is the one you need to marry at any cost! But what I’m saying is if you’ve arranged to meet someone, then focus on them. Don’t arrange several overlapping dates, or focus on the next potential ‘swipe’ or future date. Focus on the person that’s in front of you.  

By doing this, we can practice faithfulness from the start no matter what happens.

It might not work out with that person, but at least you’ve given it your full effort and the best possible foundation and chance of working. It also establishes habits that will give your future potential relationships the best chance to evolve into a faithful committed relationship.  

Imagine If…

Part 2 of this blog looks at the next 3 responses that can help us navigate the often confusing world of dating.

For now, imagine if we chose to practice kindness so that people feel valued no matter how we approach dating, and commit to the person in front of us so that we get into the habit of practising faithfulness. (Read How To Make Your New Dating Relationships Last)

What other dating culture contradictions can you think of? Comment welcomed below. 

Originally posted 8/4/2019


Why Seeking Love Over Passion Can Sustain Our Relationships

Early Dating

Passion and uncontrollable feelings are what characterises love in films, on Social Media and in our society. The physical attraction is often emphasised as the most important part of being in love too. But love is about more than just passion. When we forget this, our relationship will probably not stand the test of time. 

My friend was telling me about her recent interesting experience. She met up with one of her old friends who is in a long-term relationship. Her friend had sworn that when she found someone he would need to do a whole list of things, and she had no time for a relationship which didn’t involve these things. 

However, the guy she was with was totally different to what she had described previously, and she didn’t seem to mind. My friend thought it was sweet, mainly because she never thought her friend could be so adamant about what she wanted and then change her perspective so much. 

Test Of Time 

What really struck my friend though, is that it had been a few years since this couple had first met and their love was even more solid. My friend thought it was just the initial attraction and passion that meant she had changed her approach, so when the passion faded, she would revert back to her old ways and old list. But that didn’t happen. 

Now, when you fall in love, you change, that’s just a natural consequence. (Read Warning: A Relationship Should Change Us, But Can’t Cure Us)

However, there is a difference between making compromises and changing a bit, verse changing your fundamental values and core beliefs. But people do change in relationships, and their relationship affects them.

Things they thought were important seem less important in hindsight. 

What really stood out for my friend, and for me, is the fact that this couple had committed to making the relationship work long-term, despite needing to work out some initial issues and expectations.

Establish Something Deeper

I was also watching a short talk on relationships recently as well. The speaker had been married for a few years and was speaking about love. 

He said that often, couples who are dating, and some newly married couples, think passion is the only thing love is about. The problem is, passion will always subside. You need to establish something deeper.

That is what this couple we are speaking about had done. They didn’t just get swept up in the heat of the moment and do all these things they regretted later. They realised their relationship was worth committing to and were building something that could stand the ups and downs of life. 

Passionate love only lasts for two years

Most physiologists, experts and the like, say this intense passionate love only lasts for two years. So passion isn’t enough to sustain a relationship.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about physical attraction (Read How Important Is Physical Attraction). Or enjoy the fun, intense passionate stage of a new relationship. And I’m not saying all of the passion goes after the 2-year milestone. But we need to know real love is different to passion, and goes deeper.

The Project

We need to realise that the relationship is a continual project (in a good way). If we just ride the high of passion, then when it fades the relationship will do the same. However, if we realise relationships should be fun, involve compromise, adaptation and selflessness, then it will continue to grow. 

They were then able to keep the relationship project going

Just like that couple who realised they needed to be active and invest in the relationship while the relationship was new and shiny. That meant they were then able to keep their relationship project going. 

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remembered to enjoy falling in love, and enjoy the strong feeling that characterises the start of a relationship. Whilst also remembering that passion cannot sustain a relationship. 

Learning about selfless love, activeness, shared values, and all the deeper things that make a relationship last, is vital for our relationships (Read 2 Proven Traits That Make A Relationship Last)

What other important elements sustain a relationship? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 25/3/2019

Settling Vs Compromise: Spot The Signs In Your Relationship

Early Dating, Relationship Difficulties

Relationships are meant to be enjoyed and they’re meant to make us feel safe and secure. However, they involve persevering through the hard times and compromise too. But how do we know if we are implementing healthy compromises, or settling for an unhealthy relationship? These 4 tips will help us spot the signs and make wise decisions as we date. 

I remember ages ago being in dating relationships and trying to convince myself that it was what I wanted. Pretending it was okay when really we were both just settling. 

It’s so hard now when I see people, especially close friends, trying to convince themselves they are happy in a relationship when I can see the hurt it’s causing.  Sometimes I have got the wrong end of the stick, sometimes they have worked out the problems eventually, but sometimes it has ended really badly. (Read New Research Suggests Friends Can Make Or Break Our Relationship)

Which raises an important question: How can you tell if you are settling or compromising? 

Normal Or Odd?

All relationships take hard work. There are things we may need to stop doing, or start doing, as we build a mutually loving relationship. There will be things we need to sacrifice and think differently about. 

However, relationships are meant to be fun and make us feel safe and secure. They are meant to make life better. If we feel like the sacrifice and the hard work is one-way traffic, then we may be settling for a bad relationship. 

Compromise helps us navigate the lows to enjoy the highs

People settle for many reasons. They think a bad relationship is better than no relationship. They put too much worth on relationship status. They think of the few good times to justify the bad times. But settling is different to compromise. 

Compromise helps us navigate the lows to enjoy the highs and have them more often. Whereas settling only makes us experience more and more lows, with a few highs to make us think it is okay. 

Spotting the Signs  

Spotting the difference will help us to know if we’re on the right track or heading for disaster. Especially if our dating relationship is new, or feels like it’s at a critical stage. We need to know that settling means: 

  • Always Hoping They Give Back
  • Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work 
  • Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy
  • Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything

Always Hoping They Give Back

One sign of settling is that we’re always hoping that they will start giving back. In a mutually loving relationship, both people are giving and putting the other person first. But if only one person is doing it, hoping the other one will do it (more), then there is a problem. 

I have heard this dynamic justified by the person who does all the giving before. ‘You don’t know them like I do’. ‘I’m just more caring’. ‘I don’t mind really’. But we cannot make excuses for selfish behaviour. 

Compromise involves both people giving and not just taking what they can get. If we’re hoping that our partner will suddenly change, it’s not a healthy place to be. 

Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work

Settling also occurs when we just sacrifice too many things. 

There are times when one person moves cities to be with the other person. Or when you need to stop doing a hobby/do it less to spend more time together. Or you give time and money to support them somehow. These things can be healthy choices. 

But when one person is doing all of this and more, changing everything to fit into the life of the other person who isn’t sacrificing or changing at all, there is a problem. 

We’re settling if this is just a one-way street

Compromise does involve both people making big and small sacrifices. As well as showing their appreciation for it. We’re settling if this is just a one-way street.  

Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy

Anyone can think about a good memory. Every couple can share a moment that gives them a high and makes them feel loved. 

If these moments are few and far between though or becoming less frequent, then there is a problem we need to face up to. It’s a particularly big problem if we use these few highs to justify the long and frequent lows in the relationship. 

Healthy relationships that involve compromise do go through lows, but these couples communicate and do their best to avoid it happening again. Couples who settle just ignore the problem. 

Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything

One final tip to spotting the signs of settling is when we feel like we can’t share stuff with our partner. 

We aren’t allowed to be real or authentic

If we feel like we can’t chat, offload, get emotional support from our partner, then we aren’t allowed to be real or authentic. We won’t feel like they have our back. Naturally, some people are better at communicating and sharing than others. I had to learn to do it well, but I made sure I did learn.

Compromise means supporting each other, sharing everything and feeling like you are a team. Settling stops this from happening.  

Imagine If…

If you’re spotting these signs in your dating relationship, it probably means you need to at least have some hard talks, and it may mean doing things differently moving forward. It may even lead to some tough decisions. 

But imagine if we didn’t settle for settling, and we made sure compromise was part of the healthy relationship we build.

So remember to spot the signs of settling: Always Hoping They Give Back, Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work, Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy, Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything. (Read Amazing, Enjoyable, But Not Easy. The Secret Behind Great Relationships)

What do you think is another sign of settling? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 18/2/2019