Finding A Date

Will God Answer My Prayers About Who I Should Date?

Church Dating Culture, Finding A Date

I believe God wants to be involved in our dating lives and wants us to enjoy finding someone and falling in love. I think God wants to be involved when it gets messy too, giving help and support. But I don’t think any of this means we should ask him to show us ‘the One’. If we’re praying this prayer then we’ll be disappointed, but we can pray for other things.  

I really don’t believe in ‘finding the one’ myth. I think it robs us of God’s better plan for us. I firmly believe God wants us to be involved in ‘making the one’ and bringing discipleship into dating. (Read Why Believing In ‘The One’ Is Very Overrated) 

It isn’t about sitting on the bench wondering ‘why haven’t I been picked yet’, but getting involved in the game. Asking about what type of person we would say yes to and why, learning to communicate well, learning to argue well, and realising what healthy relationship expectations are.

But this doesn’t mean God is forgotten. I think we still need to pray about it and involve him. Waiting for ‘the one’ means we think God will do all the work, ‘making the one’ means we think we will do it with him. (Read How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’.)  

Where Does Prayer Fit In? 

So where does prayer fit in then? What should we be praying for? I think there are 3 key things we should ask for if we’re dating someone, and wondering whether to commit more to the person in front of us. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I always say we should pray that God allows us to: 

  • See Behind The Masks 
  • Highlight Our Real Values
  • Remember It’s A Good Gift 

See Behind The Masks

I always use the word ‘dating’ to cover a wide range of stages. Whether we’re looking at online profiles, meeting someone for the first time, or celebrating our 3 year ‘official couple’ anniversary, I always say dating mainly comes down to this question: ‘Do I want to invest more into the person in front of me?’

The answer to this may be ‘no’, and that may happen after one date or after a few months. Yet if it’s a series of yeses, it will lead to a long-term relationship, and maybe even marriage.   

What I think this means, is that we date in order to really get to know the person in front of us, and vice versa. A successful relationship isn’t about wearing a mask to impress, or hiding who we are, but about creating settings where we can be honest and real, and really getting to know each other.

This is hard, especially if we’ve been hurt before. Asking God for the courage to do this and for wisdom to show us when people aren’t doing this, is really important. As well as patience, so that we don’t reveal too much too quickly before appropriate levels of trust are built.

Highlight Our Real Values

I heard someone say the other day about how his wife loves snowboarding more than anything, and going out and partying. He hated doing both. He said ‘If compatibility is just about hobbies, we wouldn’t be together’. 

People often think that compatibility is about having shared interests, but that stuff really isn’t the most important thing. It’s really about sharing deeper values and the vision for your lives. 

This is where the relationship can deepen and be sustained

If the deeper things line up, and the things which mean the most to you in your lives are in sync, then this is where the relationship can deepen and be sustained. 

Some of us are still working out what our deeper values and vision are, but praying that we understand ourselves more and what God is wanting us to priorities in our life, will make it easier for us to spot common values in others too. (Read Are You Thinking About Compatibility In The Right Way?)

Remember It’s A Good Gift

While being intentional, thinking things through, having the hard chats to define the boundaries, and being respectful, are all vital in dating, we need to remember that relationships are a blessing from God. 

They’re meant to be enjoyed. 

Often I find people can focus so much on the serious side that they forget God wants us to enjoy falling in love. It’s meant to be a blessing. 

Praying for the strength to have the chats and defining expectations is needed, but also pray that we’re able to relax with each other and just discern if we enjoy each other. It will help us discover if we want to commit more. This is something we can ask God to help with. 

Imagine If…

We’re constantly told in church to learn about becoming a better friend. To learn to make more sacrifices, be there to help them, etc. We’re told to do the same with family, work colleagues, and our community. We should think through how we could love them more and act on it. 

I don’t think dating is any different. 

Bring discipleship into dating

Imagine if we remembered to bring discipleship into dating as well, and prayed to God to help us learn to date well, as we searched for and found someone to commit to. (Read I’m Single And Hate Dating, What Can I Do?)

I pray that you know God is invested and cares about your search, and he wants you to grow and be involved in the dating process.

What do you think about praying for these things? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 22/10/2018


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

I’m Single And Hate Dating, What Can I Do?

Finding A Date, Singleness

Many of us are single but want to find someone and build a relationship, but we don’t like looking for dates. We dislike sifting through loads of profiles online, the awkward first few minutes of small talk on a date, and the confusion of deciding if there is or isn’t a spark. It’s important to know 4 ways to avoid it feeling like a chore, and get the excitement back.

I think there’s so much focus on dating being fun and great that we can find it difficult to admit it can also be hard work and exhausting. Finding someone to potentially commit to and being intentional about it isn’t a simple process.

Dating in a way which is just about living for the moment and only thinking about yourself is easy, but purposely looking for someone to build a deep relationship with isn’t. Going out on yet another date, checking the online profile, again, trying to decide if someone is really trustworthy, can seem like it just isn’t getting us where we want to be.

As someone who thinks dating should be enjoyed, and it should lead to the mutually fulfilling relationships we all want, I realise we need to talk about the times when it doesn’t live up to expectation.

First Dates

So how do you find someone? How do you make it seem like less of a chore? How do you begin to look forward to dating again?

Well lining up more and more dates and creating more and more online profiles would make anyone feel overwhelmed. I think there are 4 things we can do instead, so that we  re-discover the excitement of dating again:

  • More Dates Isn’t Always Better
  • Need To Create Anticipation
  • Strip Back The Mask
  • It’s Not A Step To Something Else

More Dates Isn’t Always Better

So often we can fall into the trap of thinking, if I just go on as many dates as possible I will find someone eventually. However, I don’t think it should be about meeting up with just anyone. So taking the time to stop and think about the kind of person we want to connect with is important.

Being active and thinking intentionally about who we say yes to can make dating feel like we’re connecting with people we really want to connect with, rather than just anyone and seeing if we stumble across something.

Thinking about what we want to try and build, who we want to do that with, and saying yes to the right dates, can help us get excited about meeting better-suited people. (Read Lots Of Dates Vs. Selective Dates: Which Is Really Better?)

Need To Create Anticipation

I’m a big believer in meeting up as soon as possible so you don’t just text or email for ages and create a ‘romantic bubble’. We only really get to know people when we hang out with them in person and talk face to face.

However, not talking properly beforehand at all can end in disaster too. Only emailing after reading a profile or sending a text after a mutual friend set you up, can end with us getting dressed up, getting ready, going to meet someone and realising you just aren’t suited after a lot of time and energy has been invested. Phoning each other first and chatting for a bit means you can begin to know each other before you invest too much of yourself.

The date won’t be something you dread, but it’ll be something you look forward to

There is no need to arrange a meeting with someone if you both realise that it’s obviously not going to work beforehand.

Moreover, if you chat a bit and get on, it means you will be excited to meet each other in person. The date won’t be something you dread, but it’ll be something you look forward to because you have had a positive experience already. (Read What should we do on a first date? Part 1)

So arrange one or two phone calls or Skype chats, see if you are excited to meet up and get to know each other more.

Strip Back The Mask

On dates we want to present the best version of ourselves and make the best first impression, that’s natural and understandable. But when people lie or exaggerate too much, it becomes confusing. We don’t get to see the real them or vice versa.

Focusing on real compatibility can make dating less daunting

When we see dating as a chance to meet someone and be authentic, rather than worry about everything we say and do, it will seem less terrifying and more exciting. Focusing on real compatibility can make dating great (Read Are You Thinking About Compatibility In The Right Way?)

It’s Not A Step To Something Else

Dating can be enjoyable. Dating in and of itself can honour God. It’s not just a step to marriage.

Seeing it as something that needs to be rushed through will not help us to see it as exciting. But seeing it as something we are meant to enjoy and learn more about ourselves and others in, will help us to see it as exciting. (Read Who Else Wants Great Relationships? Why Dating Well Still Matters)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remembered: More Dates Isn’t Always Better, Need To Create Anticipation, Strip Back The Mask, It’s Not A Step To Something Else. We could go from dreading dating, to doing it intentionally with the best chance of making it work, and with lots of excitement.

What else do you think could help build more excitement? Comments Welcomed Below

Originally posted 18/6/2018

Warning: Dating Is Not A Simple Seven-Step Process

Finding A Date, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

No one can outline a simple, one size fits all approach to dating. We all have different dating histories, hopes, personalities, baggage and unique stories. I always try to give principles over rules that we can then apply to our own contexts. I was recently confronted with a story that reminded me why this is so important. 

So there I was, lights in my eyes, sitting on stage, bracing myself for the questions, wondering why I had agreed to be on a Q&A panel.

It’s not that I don’t like them per se. I really do think it’s important people get to ask questions and learn by chatting together, rather than just being preached at. But you just never know what the others on the panel are going to say, and vice versa.

Often people have such different points of view, that trying to delve deep into a subject with a 30-second answer, then getting someone else saying something that sounds totally contradictory, can leave everyone more confused.

I’m always a bit wary and worried about what may happen.

Surprising Question  

Nevertheless, my fellow panelist and I were getting into the swing of it. I had answered a few questions so thought it’s best to sit the next one out. I don’t think people just want to hear from one person, and it’s important to respect other members of the panel and let everyone answer.

Why would you start a relationship by not spending time together?

The next question came in: ‘After you agree to start dating someone, should you not see each other for a week or so in the beginning?’

Now, this really confused me. Why would you start a relationship by not spending time together? I found the question quite odd and it seemed counterintuitive.

Surprising Answer

Yet my fellow panelist proceeded to say that this is what he did. He and his then girlfriend, now his wife, spent two weeks apart at the start of their relationship.

I thought, ‘What?!’

He made it clear that they became a couple and then didn’t really talk for two weeks. Instead, they went away, thought about it, prayed about it, clarified their intentions and expectations.

To me, this sounded odd and very different to what I would suggest. If you’re at the point where you want to start a relationship, then start that relationship. It seems strange to put it on hold.  However, having thought about it, I realised that really, it’s a principle I always talk about that’s just being applied a bit differently.

Not one model

I always say being active is important. We can’t just drift. (Read Stories From The Dating Scene: An Exciting Start, Then We Drifted.) We need to be intentional and think about the relationship decision we’re making.

I say that being intentional, thinking it through and praying, is all part of being active. And all of this should come before you go out, then you make the active decision to commit to each other and to the relationship. However, my fellow panelist and his girlfriend simply did it in a different order.

They applied the principle in a way that worked for their situation

They said they liked each other and started going out, then decided to go and pray individually, think it through, get some perspective, etc. He didn’t go into why he did it this way round, but different doesn’t mean wrong, because there is no one-size-fits-all model.

What clearly came across is that in his mind, he didn’t want to hurt her. He wanted her to be as sure as she could about the relationship, and he wanted to seriously think about how he was going to approach it. How he was going to make it Christ-centered

They applied the principle in a way that worked for their situation.

Different Reasons

Because of how we’ve been hurt in the past, because of our personalities and imperfection, a principle applied in a certain way by one person, will look different for another person.

Application in our individual contexts will vary. Perfect seven step plans do not work.

It reminded me again, why having the conversation is so important. Having a rigid system, that everyone needs to follow, doesn’t work. Even though leaving people with absolutely no guidance is just as bad, so discussing the application is key.

Which is why I did actually really enjoy doing this Q and A in the end. (Read One Great Dating Tip From Ruth and Boaz. Really?)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we realised people want help, they want guidance, but we are all different too. Application in our individual contexts will vary. Perfect seven step plans do not work.

We need to get away from the ‘rigid system’, and help each other not only discover good principles instead of bad ones, but also, how we can apply them in a way to make our relationship thrive in our situation. (Read Who Else Wants Great Relationships? Why Dating Well Still Matters)

Do you think principles are better than a ‘seven-step plan’? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 7/5/2018

2 Strategies for Surviving The Changing World Of Dating

Finding A Date, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

Dating can be exciting, fun, scary, and confusing. This is partly because the dating culture is always changing. But the way people find someone to commit to and build a romantic relationship has changed for each generation, knowing how to adapt and thrive is vital. Which is why avoiding instant gratification and avoiding minimal effort is needed. 

The way people find romantic partners has changed over the last few decades, and it’s still changing.

For example, a few decades ago people had to meet face to face. They had to learn how to make small talk and go up to a guy or girl and start talking. The younger guys probably had to also drive over to her parents’ house and meet her parents and pick her up.

If you go back even further, to the time of courtship, there would have been chaperones joining the couple on their romantic meetings. These couples would have only started to meet up after their parents had agreed to it.

Romance Never Changes

8 out of 10 millennials still think true romance is important

However, despite the changes in our culture, people’s need for romance has not changed. Some research suggests that 8 out of 10 millennials still think true romance is important. And most teenagers and 20-25 year-olds still want to get married.

In other words, dating may be changing, but people still want to find a romantic relationship. They date in order to find someone and fall in love. Even if love has had a digital revamp!


We could talk forever about the many different influences on the dating culture and their effects, but technology has been a big factor.

The digital age means we now have access to millions of people all over the world because of the internet and social media. This means we can connect with more like-minded people, even though this can also be overwhelming (Read One Big Reason Why Dating Feels Overwhelming).

But it also means people don’t need to make initial contact face to face. Dating apps and websites mean you meet online, start chatting online, and then maybe meet up later on.

Just like when we order stuff online, or want to check something out, we can just take out our phones or tablets and instantly get what we want with minimal effort.

This has negatively affected the way we date.

Instant Gratification

We are now used to getting what we want instantly. Technology, phones, and gadgets mean we can get things instantly that 50 years ago people had to wait hours or days for. Emails have replaced slow letters. Microwaves have replaced slower oven cooking. Bank transfers have replaced slow cheques.

One strategy to navigate dating is to remember relationships take time

When it comes to dating, people can have the same expectation. They can think that dating is meant to quickly lead to love and a strong relationship. But that takes time. No amount of technology can speed up the process of building a relationship. Ask anyone who had been married or dated for years, and they will tell you it builds up slowly over time, not on day one.

One strategy to navigate dating is to remember that relationships take time. Technology may be able to get us a date quickly and help us find articles and tips on how to date. But building a relationship is never instant.

In order to thrive, we need to remember that it takes time.

Minimal Effort

Not only is technology making things quicker, but it also makes things easier.

We no longer need to leave the house to get our shopping. We no longer need to go to the library to get information. We no longer need to plan as much, an app will bring a taxi to us or show us where to go with minimal thought from us.

We can end up approaching relationships in the same way too. Thinking that minimal effort will bring what we want. But while dating is meant to be fun, it’s hard work, and two imperfect people need to be intentional, compromise, and build something together.

Relationships take work and minimal effort will lead to people getting hurt

Our strategy has to remind us of this: relationships take work, and minimal effort will lead to people getting hurt and cause the relationship to be weak. That approach will ultimately not fulfil our desires.

New Phase 

A date can now be a chat over skype, or a 30-minute chat in a coffee shop (I wouldn’t suggest this though, Read What Should We Do On A First Date?). It looks very different to 20, even 10 years ago.

Dating is changing and seems to be more fluid. The boundaries seem more blurred than ever sometimes and people don’t always like to label a relationship.

But in order to thrive in this environment, we need to be prepared to be intentional. To think about who we are and the kind of person we want to commit to. Our best strategy would be remembering that building a strong and stable relationship takes time and work. Technology can never change that.

Anything in life worth having takes work, romance is no exception.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we embraced the changing world of dating in a way that didn’t lead us towards unrealistic expectations. If we used the benefits of things like technology but remembered it takes work and time to build the relationship we truly want.

Anything in life worth having takes work, romance is no exception. (Read The 3 Best Ways To Prepare For A Date)

What strategies have you heard that have helped you? Comments welcome below. 

Originally posted 16/4/2018