After spending the weekend painting and decorating a room in my house, and giving a talk on relationships to young people, I decided to draw out a (slightly tenuous) link between the two. Namely, you don’t need to be perfect or look perfect, for either of them to work. Sounds simple right? Well, maybe… 

This week, my wife and I, along with some wider family members decorated a room in our house. Now as someone who isn’t practical and does more harm than good in the decorating department, the thought of it beforehand worried me slightly.

Turns out I was right to be nervous. We managed to screw through a pipe that then sprayed water around the newly painted room, carpets were lost and delayed by the carpet fitters, and we damaged quite a bit of furniture too.

Not the smoothest of operations.

However, the room is now done, and it looks great. There are some bits that aren’t finished to the highest of standards and some mismatched furniture, but it is really good.

Dating Talk 

In amongst this DIY dilemmas, I did a talk at a local church on dating dilemmas (see what I did there). It was a group of young people who had lots of questions about sex and relationships, singleness, and dating.

I shared a bit of my own story, about how I became a Christian and my own journey about relationships and dating.

Knowing that I didn’t have to be perfect had a massive impact

One of the things I said to them which really seemed to stand out was about when I became a Christian. I said that hearing about a God, who saw all my flaws, knows all of my insecurities and said he still loved and accepted me and would stick around, changed everything,

Knowing that I didn’t have to be perfect had a massive impact.

Perfection Myth 

Perfect people don’t exist. Perfect couples don’t exist

This is something I also learned about dating. So often in my dating history, and in our society which values looks and ‘being happy’ all the time, we can believe that we need to be perfect before we can find romance.

Perfect people don’t exist. Perfect couples don’t exist.

I always say dating is about letting someone see the real you, and vice versa, and deciding if you want to commit to each other long term. We need to see each other’s flaws and gifts and decide whether we want to build something together.

Painting and Dating 

So this is the part where a (cheesy) similarity can be drawn out. But I will resist the temptation to say anything too obvious.

I could say that like decorating a room, there will be setbacks like damaging furniture and water damage, but in the end, it will look great. But that would be cheesy, so I won’t say that.

I could say that like decorating a room, it takes hard work but you can do it, even if you don’t have all the skills, you can make it look great. But that would definitely by cheesy, so I won’t say that.

The point I want to draw out is that dating is like decorating a room because you don’t look perfect while doing it. It won’t look perfect in the end, and accepting that can free us to build something that looks amazing.

Not Looking Perfect 

When you decorate, you wear old clothes, get dirt all over your hands and paint on your face.

We all have bits about ourselves we wish we could change

When the room is finished, not every bit is perfect. There are some parts that look a bit rushed and there are some marks you got on the furniture as you were moving it.

I think this is the takeaway point. Dating is not about finding someone who is perfect. Dating is not about pretending to be perfect because deep down, we all have bits about ourselves we wish we could change.

Dating is about creating a space to be real and honest. Knowing people for who they are. When we make it about something else, then we’re building a relationship on unstable foundations. If we are aiming for mutual enjoyment and fulfillment, then we need to be authentic.

If You Are Dating 

So if you’re in a new, or long term dating relationship, find ways to connect more this week. To have the time and space to share values, goals, and fears. Ask each other about these things and revisit the assumptions. So that you can begin to build that even more enjoyable and authentic relationship. (Read The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship)

If you’re single, remember that finding someone isn’t about being perfect. Learning to date well, getting over some of the fear and worries, isn’t about trying to be perfect. (Read What Should We Do On A First Date?)

Imagine If…

Imagine if dating was less about trying to impress someone else, and was more about creating space to get to know each other and build something together. Imagine the time and hurt we could avoid.

Decorating is never perfect. I want you to remember that no one is perfect, no couple is perfect, and the only way to build relationships worth having is by creating that time and space to be honest. It builds trust, enjoyment and something worth having.

Do you think there is a difference between being honest and ‘making a good first impression’? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 8/5/2017