Dating can be full of disappointments and situations we regret. No one is perfect. But we can stop to think and reflect on why our last relationship didn’t work out, why the last date may have been awkward, etc. It’s not about blaming ourselves, but learning from what has happened so next time we can build something better.
My wife recently told me about a conversation she had with a group of her friends, none of whom are Christians.
They were discussing their relationships, some are married but many are dating or single. And they were giving my wife a bit of a friendly grilling.
They couldn’t understand why we didn’t live together before we got married, why we waited ’til after marriage to have sex. They were asking questions like: Do you think you missed out? Do you enjoy your relationship? What would you do differently? How could you be sure he would make you happy?
I went in thinking about what can I give
Then my wife, after a few questions said ‘Well you’re asking questions that are all to do with me, and what can I get out of it. But I went in thinking about what can I give.’
They admitted they had never really thought about their relationships like that before.
Pause and Reflect
I’ve often written about the fact that no one is perfect, and dating well is not about getting rid of all your flaws or anything like that. (Read How ‘Decisions’ Along With ‘Love’ Can Create Healthy Relationships).
But stopping and pausing to think about what type of relationship we want to build, why our last relationship didn’t work out, what we can learn from our last date, can help us. In a world that says it is all about ‘me getting’, we need to remember a relationship involves two people ‘giving’.
It may be painful and a bit scary to reflect on our blind spots, but it could help us avoid the relationships or situations that harm us, and focus us on building something better.
(The following extract is taken from page 126-127 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)
The unexamined life is not worth living.
Dating offers us a brilliant opportunity to see ourselves in new ways. Taking a clear look at yourself and your past or current relationships might feel uncomfortable, but it helps you to see things as they really are.
Being attracted to someone will always make us act a little as though we’re wearing a pair of rose-tinted glasses: we will see things in slightly distorted ways. But there’s a difference between being blind to someone’s faults in the early days of infatuation and adopting a blinkered approach to every new relationship.
The Bible says that falling in love can be like playing with fire, so it matters
You know you’re in trouble when you find yourself imagining being married to everyone you talk to! Or you find yourself trying to turn your girl or guy into your ‘perfect’ ex or when you have a crush on that married person.
We guys might think we’re immune from this, but many imagine themselves going on dates or making out with a gorgeous girl, even before they’ve ever spoken to her! (Read Real Stories From People Who ‘Fell Off Pedestals’)
The Bible says that falling in love can be like playing with fire, so it matters that we practice seeing clearly, even as our hearts are running wild!
Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe – and you’re ready.
(Song of Solomon 2:7)
So here are some questions to help you identify your blind spots and practice seeing yourself and your relationship clearly:
1.What are you like when you’re dating someone?
2. If you have never dated, what are you like around the people you fancy?
3. Do you find it easy to be yourself, or do you find that you become someone else?
4. How would you describe your previous relationships? Intense? Healthy? Bad? Fun? Brief? Stable?
5. Do you drift from one ‘unsuitable’ relationship to another? Why do you think you do this?
6. Do you find yourself staying longer in a relationship than you should? Why do you think you do this?
7. If you have never dated, do you think you spend too much time trying to change the ‘true you’ to become what you think people will like? Will that create the potential for an open and honest relationship?
8. Do you have a ‘type’ when it comes to who you are attracted to? How would you describe it?
9. Do you need to review the ‘type’ of person you go for all the time?
10. Do you spend so much time checking someone against your ‘list of perfection’ that you don’t give them a chance?
Intentionally focus on building something good together
No answers to any of these questions makes you a bad person. But I hope they get you thinking, or help you to do things differently. So that you can approach your (next) relationship differently, in a way that allows you to build something together.
Imagine if we didn’t just unintentionally expect someone to come and give us everything we wanted in a relationship, but we intentionally focussed on building something good together, examining how we could be part of that.
What other good questions may be worth asking? Comments welcomed below.