‘The One’ myth

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


How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’. Part 2

Church Dating Culture, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

In Part 2 of this post, we begin to explore what taking steps towards ‘Making The One’ may look like. It will not be the same for every person and every couple, but a different and new mindset can help us begin to build healthy relationships based on mutual enjoyment and less confusion. 

I’m humbled and pleased that one thing many people tell me after hearing my talks or reading my book, is that they are glad someone is saying that you don’t need to be perfect in order to be in a relationship. That dating is about two flawed people committed to putting the effort in and trying to make it work. 

They are relieved that I don’t say ‘follow these seven steps to happiness’. As if there is a simple formula that will ‘sort’ us out. As I said in Part 1, we need a different approach.

Helps us to start ‘Making The One’ 

Thinking about how we approach relationships, remembering that we need to put in the hard work, remembering that it should be fun and respectful, helps us to start ‘Making The One’.  And can stop us waiting, or pretending we’re perfect and just hoping to bump into that other perfect person. 

(The following extract is taken from page 28-29 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Making Sure We Grow

In rare instances, God might point out the person you’re going to marry. And if he does, good stuff! But most of the time, he’s more interested in who you’re becoming, not just who you’re dating. 

We are going to be exploring some incredible truths God has for you. If God helps you to grow in confidence in this area or teaches you the keys to understanding commitment, he is guiding you towards any future relationship just as much as if he had told you your future spouse’s name and address!

Making It About ‘Us’ Not just ‘Me’

Learning to be less self-centred in a dating relationship is one of the ways God can help you to become relationally intelligent and able to serve others – whether you marry them or not!

God knows that relationships aren’t always easy. Beginning to share parts of your world with someone else can feel a bit uncomfortable at times. So he wants you to be prepared, emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

Making It About Not Being Perfect

Zack got married a few years ago. His marriage is everything he hoped it would be, but recently he told us how difficult the first year was. Nothing had prepared him for how much he was about to discover of his own flaws. 

Counselling has helped him come to terms with insecurities that had gone undetected or unchallenged throughout his life. But his one regret is that he waited until he was married before he looked at who he was and what he had to offer anyone in a relationship.

A relationship you need to work at is no less a gift from God

The ‘perfect relationship’ mantra might inadvertently make us think that, when our relationship hits hard times or doesn’t always feel amazing, it’s a sign that we aren’t with ‘the one’ God has for us. We might even think that, if we’re not convinced we want to marry someone ten minutes into the relationship, we shouldn’t keep dating.

‘Making The One’

A relationship you need to work at is no less a gift from God. A relationship that doesn’t begin with a commitment to getting married any time soon is no less valuable in God’s eyes. You might end up discovering a greater appreciation for each other that will grow into the deep love needed for a strong relationship. 

You’ll discover how working through difficulties gives you an increased resilience and capacity for forgiveness. These are vital tools for building marriages that last. 

I really believe God cares about this area, and he wants us to be involved in the process

More importantly, if we date in a way that allows our character to grow in selflessness and maturity, then even if the relationship doesn’t work out, it will honour God. Isn’t that better than thoughtless dating or waiting for God to sort everything out? (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)

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

Imagine If…

No one can promise you a relationship is around the corner. No one can promise you there won’t be any low points. But I really believe God cares about this area, and he wants us to be involved in the process and grow as people, and as a couple if and when that happens. 

Imagine if we made it less about waiting for ‘The One’ to appear, and made it about us getting the right perspective, learning how to build good foundations, and remember to enjoy it, I think we can be part of building an amazing dating culture.  (Read Why I Told Joshua Harris To Redeem Rather Than Reject Dating)

What else would help us start ‘Making The One’? Comments welcomed below.   

Originally posted 3/9/2018

How To Stop Waiting, And Start ‘Making The One’. Part 1

Church Dating Culture, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

Many believe that if we wait long enough, or pray hard enough, we will just bump into our soul mate and that perfect person one day. But I think ‘Making The One’ is not only realistic (I don’t believe in ‘Finding The One’), it’s a better way to do it and brings real fulfilment. This two-part article begins to explain what this may look like. 

A good friend of mine, who I’ve spoken to lots about dating and relationships, has recently started dating someone. It’s been a good few months now, they seem very happy together, and it seems to be going well.

In amongst all of the highs and whirlwind romance, they have had to have honest conversations. They have had to learn about each other’s personality flaws, how they annoy each other, how they need to communicate, and what they should and can be expecting from their relationship. 

They actively made decisions and worked through some issues

They actively made decisions and worked through some issues, and this means they are able to enjoy their new relationship more.

They decided to work at ‘Making The One’, in an enjoyable, respectful, and honest way, and seem much happier because of it. It may work out long term, it may not, but they have built good foundations and managed to reduce the confusion along the way. As well as grow together and individually. 

Before we explore what ‘Making The One’ looks like, we need to realise this idea may be different from what we normally get told. 

(The following extract is taken from page 26-28 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)


Maybe you’re not expecting perfection in life or love. And maybe you’re not expecting God to give you a message in a bottle about who you should date. You just want to find someone you could possibly consider getting married to. 

So what part do you see God playing in that? How do you handle the challenges and possible confusions thrown up by dating? 

Looking For Something Different

One friend recently told us of her less-than-ideal first date with a man she was hoping might be Mr Right, only to find that he ‘turned up for the date with a tub of melted ice-cream in hand and a tacky oil painting from Marbella of boats in a harbour as a gift, and proceeded to tell me “just to clear the air” that he categorically did not believe women should preach, and that he was a good date compared to some!’

A friend and I once invited a couple of girls out to a fireworks display. The girls thought that a massive group of us were going, but we had ‘forgotten’ to tell them that it was a double date.

I was pulling out all my best chat-up lines and turning on the charm, so naturally, I was convinced that one of them liked me. The next day, just as I was about to ask her out, her boyfriend came up to me and introduced himself.


Looking For Help

Relationship-status confusions, clumsy comments, feeling too shy to truly be yourself all seem to be part of the pre-marriage relationship stage that we are left to navigate on our own. In researching this book, we’ve met people who feel really hopeful for their futures, as well as those who are hurt and confused by broken relationships. 

Wanting to know what God thinks about their relationships is a theme that runs through lots of these conversations. We’ve also come up against some pretty strange ideas about dating. 

God does want to be involved in your pre-marriage relationships

We’ve met Christians who believe that any form of pre-marriage romantic relationship is dishonouring to God; Christians who have developed a nervous tic around checking wedding ring fingers; Christians so crippled by sexual sin that they believe they don’t deserve a loving relationship; Christians who believe that their ‘romantic-God’ has their ideal guy/girl just waiting for them.

There seems to be so much confusion around dating that often gets in the way of discerning God’s guidance about our relationships.

The good news is that God does want to be involved in your pre-marriage relationships. He wants us to surrender every area of our lives to him, so that he can transform it for his glory. The question is: how? (Read Why Believing In ‘The One’ Is Very Overrated)

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

Imagine If…

Imagine if, instead of wondering if God has forgotten to introduce us to our ‘perfect-match’, if we have done something wrong, or if we are waiting for God to make it happen, we decided to be involved in the process. (Read Stories From The Dating Scene: God (Sort Of) Found Me ‘The One’)

Read Part 2 here, which begins to explore what taking steps towards ‘Making The One’ may look like. 

Do you think the idea of ‘Making The One’ is helpful? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 27/8/2018

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Dating

Church Dating Culture, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

The principles we learn from the romantic stories we see in films, on TV, or in the media, promises us everything, but often deliver lots of hurt and confusion. Finding someone and falling in love is meant to be fun and enjoyable, but we need to know what good principles look like, and call out the lies we often get told. 

Looking back, I made so many mistakes when I was dating.

There can sometimes be so much pressure in church culture to be perfect in the area of romance. To not even go out on a date unless you hear ‘wedding bells’. To just ‘know’ if you are a good match, and to never break up with anyone because that implies you made the biggest mistake.

But when I dated, I liked people and went out with people that it just didn’t work out with. And it was really messy sometimes.

The way I dated was really messy sometimes

When I talk to people about dating now, they are often aware that it’s confusing and people can get hurt, they aren’t fools. What they want to know is how to do it well, and how to bring God into it, instead of just going with the flow and making lots of mistakes. And for someone to tell them it isn’t always perfect and easy.

Love Is All Consuming

I remember being single and desperately wanting to find someone. I remember praying about it, thinking constantly about it, being distracted by it.

Most of the time, when I asked my friends about it and my church leaders, they would just say clichés that were just not helpful (Read 5 Clichés Said To Singles, Have You Heard Them All? ).

So I would go along with principles culture fed me, like: do whatever you think will make you happy. It will be so easy and natural. Just follow your feelings. You can use people, as long as it makes you happy. Just sit back and God will sort it all out when he brings ‘The One’.

I now know better, and I’ve been researching, writing, and teaching in the whole area of dating and faith for all most 10 years now (that makes me feel old). I wish someone had just told me some good principles back then. Something I could have put into practice, to reduce the confusion and be more God honouring.

So here is a snippet of what I wish someone had said to me, which may be able to help you:

(The following extract is taken from page 204-206 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Do It Differently 

First, remember it may be hard to put into practice the changes you’re inspired to make. (Read Why I Chose To Think Differently About My Relationship.)

This doesn’t absolve us from making plans and setting goals though. Good ideas that aren’t implemented help no-one.

Relationships are hard work; there’s no getting away from that. And you don’t need to be in a relationship to get to work on areas of your character or expectations of a relationship.

Perfect Doesn’t Exist 

Secondly, we give you permission to fail! No-one is perfect. We all need to be kind to ourselves and each other as we work on our inclination to be selfish.

We give you permission to fail! No-one is perfect

In fact, accepting that about ourselves and the people we will date is a key point. There is no way we will change overnight, and there’s no way we will ever be perfect. Our goal is to grow in maturity in our love for God and others.

Someone who can truly say after every date or interaction with someone that they are not what they should be, but they are better than they were, is surely moving in the right direction.

God Can Help

Thirdly, ask God’s Spirit for guidance. He is given to us to lead us into all truth, and this includes our relationships. He has the power to transform us:

‘And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:1).


Where our culture seeks to build relationships on the power of romantic feelings alone, we will build on the rock of faithfulness and commitment.

Where our culture encourages selfishness, we will practise selflessness.

Where our culture says ‘the one’ will come to you, we will exercise our God-given intellect and take responsibility for our hopes and choices, and be open to his guidance

Where our culture says feelings can justify anything, we will draw on God’s Word before rushing in.

Where our culture says, put yourself first, and if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, we will choose to date stronger, deeper, clearer and wider. We will protect our hearts, intent on dating as a way of finding someone we can commit to for life.

Where our culture says that dating their way is great, we say they haven’t seen anything yet!

Good foundations that lead to fulfilled singleness or fulfilled marriages

So go for it. Invite that guy out. Drop that girl a text saying you’d like to get to know her better. (Read What should we do on a first date? Part 1) Ask the God of all love to pour into your hearts and minds the courage and wisdom you need to build your pre-marriage relationships on good foundations that lead to fulfilled singleness or fulfilled marriages.

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

Imagine If…

Imagine if we questioned some of the principles our culture fed us, and remembered that dating and falling in love is meant to be a blessing, but God has a way that can help us avoid confusion and hurt as much as possible.

What would you say to your younger self about dating? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 26/3/2018

Stories From The Dating Scene: God (Sort Of) Found Me ‘The One’

Real Life Stories

Lots of people ask me about finding ‘the One’. They want to take romantic relationships and marriage seriously, and they want God to be involved in the process. So they want him to show them ‘the One’ so they get it right. Well, someone I know got a very surprising answer after praying this prayer. 

I remember growing up with the idea of finding ‘the One’. Finding that one perfect person. Thinking she would sort me out and help me overcome all my problems.

But as I grew up, I realised life wasn’t that simple.

No-one is perfect, just like I wasn’t perfect

No-one is perfect, just like I wasn’t perfect. No one could come in and ‘sort me out’. I had to be honest, and real, and work through my issues and work to make better relationship choices. I got help and support of course but someone else couldn’t do this hard work for me.

But many people still do and still want to believe in ‘the One’.

I Don’t Believe In ‘The One’

I have written many times about why I don’t believe in finding ‘the One’. (Read The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship and Why I Chose To Reject Finding ‘The One’).

But I still meet people who like the comfort this idea brings, or think this is the way to make their relationship God-centered.

I was talking to someone the other day who shared this story with me. I want to share what he said with you, to the best of my memory, because he learned such a vital truth about God and relationships.

Story From The Dating Scene

‘I became a Christian in my mid-twenties. I had had lots of relationships, many were messed up. I had one night stands and never really have a good or steady relationship.

‘When I became a Christian, I was single for nearly ten years afterwards. I didn’t have any romantic relationships and didn’t really pursue any or come close to one, with one or two exceptions.

‘Then I got to know a woman in my church. She was godly, she was servant-hearted, and really passionate about God. But she wasn’t ‘my type’. She wasn’t the person I would usually go for, but I was attracted to her.

I Prayed, and God (Sort of) Answered

‘So I went away and prayed about it. I wanted to get the relationship right, I didn’t want to get hurt or hurt her, so I said: “God, is she the One?”.

No Answer. So I prayed again “God, is she the One?”. And nothing happened again, so I prayed again.

‘Then He said “Well, is she your one? Are you going to pick her?

If you pick her, you can’t blame me

‘When I felt like God was saying this to me, I got confused. I thought surely he would bring me the One, why is he asking me this. Then I felt like he said: ‘If you pick her, you can’t blame me when it gets hard!

I Get It Now

‘I think that God, in his unique way, was teaching me something. He was telling me that relationships take work. I need to make a decision to commit and keep deciding to commit.

‘God won’t click his fingers and make me the perfect person for her or vice versa.

15 years later, we are married, flawed, but happy

‘I started to think about what I, and we, needed to do to make the relationship work and if we were suited, rather than waiting for God to just do all of the work for me.

’15 years later, we are married, flawed, but happy, and pushing each other closer to Jesus’. (Read Marriage Isn’t Really About ‘Us’)

Imagine If…

I really value this story because I think it’s empowering. Obviously, God is with us, and challenges and transforms us, but we are involved in the change. We make decisions along the way and must choose to be more God-centred in our thinking and actions.

Imagine if we remembered that we need to make the relationship work. We need to choose compromise, learn to work through issues, enjoy the highs, and ‘make the one’ rather than just ‘find the one’. (Read Warning: A Relationship Should Change Us, But Can’t Cure Us)

Why do you think about ‘Making the One’? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 19/3/2018