Mutually enjoyable relationships which have strong foundations don’t just happen, and sometimes people can focus on one element too much. I find that people can focus on what they are getting from the relationship and don’t dwell on vital responsibilities. Or they focus on what they need to give and forget to enjoy the benefits. So this quick checklist will help us to remember everything we need to build a good relationship.  

(The following extract is taken from page 153-155 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free here)

Dating With Responsibility

When you’re in a dating relationship, you have areas of responsibility, not just to yourself and whoever you’re dating, but also to your friends and family and their friends and family. Taking on these responsibilities means that you will:

  • Be honest and truthful to your girl/boyfriend
  • Treat them with respect in public and in private
  • Develop your own character, interests, and friendships
  • Not pursue anyone else while you are in a relationship with them
  • Pray for your girl/boyfriend and your relationship
  • Give them space to grow
  • Seek God first in every area of your life

The flip side of taking responsibility in a relationship is that you are also entitled to be on the receiving end of the other person being responsible too:

  • You can expect them not to cheat on you
  • You can expect a level of openness and honesty from each other, which will grow the longer you are together
  • You should treat each other with respect and care
  • You should have your own mind and keep up with your passions, interests and wider friendships, and encourage your boy/girlfriend to explore theirs too
  • You should spend quality time together, as well as apart

The Dating Benefits

When you’re in a dating relationship, there are a whole load of benefits for both of you:

  • Increased confidence from knowing that someone has your back
  • Sustained emotional intimacy
  • A level of physical intimacy that you are both comfortable with and that honours God
  • Someone to share some of your inner world with
  • Being trusted and loved
  • Planning a future together
  • Being forgiven when you make a mistake
  • Growing closer to God
  • Having fun
  • Enjoying romance

The flip side of enjoying the benefits of dating well is that there must be some no-go areas that both people respect. Every relationship requires boundaries. They are there for either our safety or our success.

We could ‘break the rules’ and overstep the boundaries, but we need to realise that the consequences of doing so will impact on the very things we love about our relationship, such as trust.

If you cheat on someone and your partner still takes you back (and they don’t have to), you can’t expect the same level of openness and trust as before. You will need to earn it again. So, to protect our relationships, there are things that we know we can’t do:

  • Deliberately flirt with anyone else
  • Develop an emotional understanding with someone else that you should be developing with your girl/boyfriend
  • Explore a physically intimate relationship with anyone else
  • Use any controlling, abusive or violent behaviour
  • Continue down the path of sexually intimate activity that makes it difficult for one or both of you to walk away
  • Prevent each other from nurturing your relationship with Jesus
  • Prevent each other from seeing family or friends
  • Hold anything your boy/girlfriend has done wrong against them, rather than forgiving it

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I do think these elements are really important to remember. And I hope it can help us to remember that all romantic relationships involve give and take, responsibility and benefits. (Read How Pausing To Reflect Could Save Your Dating Life)

Imagine If…

Healthy relationship expectations are vital. Without them, we can end up getting hurt and hurting others. With them, we can build relationships that are enjoyable and long-lasting.

Imagine if, despite our personalities, past relationships and current situation, we enabled ourselves and others to think about what a good relationship looks like. We’re able to think through what we can expect from it, and what we need to give to make it work. (Read Unhealthy Relationship Expectations We Should All Know)

What other bullet points would you add to the above lists? Comments welcomed below.