‘The One’ myth

Why I Chose To Reject Finding ‘The One’

Real Life Stories, Relationship Difficulties

Finding ‘the One’ is a belief that still resonates and drives people who are looking for love. There is nothing wrong with wanting to find and build an enjoyable long lasting relationship. I think God wants us to enjoy romance and intimate relationships. However, by rejecting ‘the One’ myth, I think we will be better placed to find and maintain healthy and great relationships.   

I still deliver many talks on singleness and dating. I’m still passionate about exploring this issue with people and answering questions they have. Dating is an area that takes up so much time and energy, finding God in amongst it all can be a bit confusing. (Find out more about booking a talk here).

Whenever I talk about ‘Finding the One’, and how I think ‘Making the One’ is ultimately more biblical and fruitful, I still get funny looks from people. (Read ‘The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship).

In this post, I want to share a story from Rachel, my friend that I wrote my Dating Dilemma book with. I think it challenges us to think about this myth from a very helpful perspective.

(The following extract is taken from page 21-23 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Worst Nightmare

It was 3 am, and for the second night running I (Rachel) was sitting up in bed in a cold sweat.  As I looked down at the sleeping figure of my husband of three months, I was gripped with a fear I could hardly voice.

What if I had married the wrong guy? What if ‘the One’ I was destined to marry was still out there somewhere? What if I was now going to spend the rest of my life never knowing what life should have been like?

Don’t worry about it, babe. Everyone thinks that at some point

Jason rolled over and saw me sitting bolt upright in bed. ‘You can’t sleep?’ he murmured groggily.

‘Just got a lot on my mind,’ I mumbled. A few days later, I told Jason of my deep, dark thoughts.

‘Don’t worry about it, babe. Everyone thinks that at some point.’ ‘Do you think I might not be “the One” for you?’ I asked, astounded.

He shrugged: ‘Sure, sometimes. But then I remember that a more amazing thing than falling in love is growing in love. We’re going to work at that for the rest of our lives.’ And with a wink he was off to work.

New Perspective 

Jason and I have been married for over ten years now, and whenever people ask us how we knew that we were right for each other, we tell them, ‘We didn’t know if we were each other’s “One”; we just got married!’

OK, so we loved each other, got on well together and shared our love for Jesus, but it’s been the years since of getting to know each other and working hard at our relationship that have made us realise how great we are together. Most of the time!

And this reveals a dilemma we hear voiced in lots of different ways by lots of different Christians at the events and churches where we speak about relationships: ‘How do I find “the One” God has for me?’

Hidden Assumption 

Both guys and girls ask us about finding ‘the One’.

And with this question comes an assumption that God will engineer our love life. The logic goes: he loves us, he loves marriage, so he’ll make sure we get the right person to date. Won’t he?

It’s simply not a promise that God makes

It’s a story we hear time and again, but it’s simply not a promise that God makes; it’s not biblical.

Please don’t throw [your arms up] in disgust! We’re not saying that God doesn’t have a plan for your life or that he doesn’t care about your hopes for finding love. Because he does!

Unhidden Consequences 

But we need to be careful that we don’t translate that into some vague belief that God owes us a great romance, or even a husband or wife. Why? Because it can lead to all sorts of ungodly attitudes and behaviours, particularly when it comes to dating.

How many people do you know who have been dumped because the person they were with had some fantastical notion about the perfect relationship God had waiting for them just around the next corner?

How many people do you know who went too far sexually with someone they were dating, only to blame their ex, or God, for not keeping them pure?

If we believe that God will one day swoop in, clean up the mess made by our bad dating choices, and present us with Mr or Miss Perfect, then we don’t need to ask him to transform us.

We might find ‘the One’, but then feel totally unprepared for the reality of building a relationship with another person who is just as flawed as we are!

I think this story shows that all couples can experience doubts, and relationships take work and communication.

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

Other posts on this website discuss this idea more (Read ‘The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship). And also talk about the importance and of learning to Build a relationship and how to do it (Read What Makes A Happy Couple? Fresh Insight)

I think this story shows that all couples can experience doubts, and relationships take work and communication. ‘The One’ myth can rob us of the joys and realities it takes to make our relationship thrive.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we were honest about our struggles and fears and helped people to work through the highs and lows of a relationship, instead of just focusing on finding someone and hoping it will all be okay.

Do you think ‘Making the One’ is more exciting than ‘Finding the One’? Why? Comments welcomed below. 

 Originally posted 7/6/2017

Why Wouldn’t God Tell Me Who To Marry?

Church Dating Culture, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

I believe that God wants us to ‘Make The One’ rather than ‘Find The One’. But some people are sure God spoke to them about who to marry. So they would say: maybe it’s rare but you can’t say God never tells people. They’re right, you can’t put God in a box and say He never does it. But I think rose-tinted glasses can lead to unhelpful advice for people still searching. 

I often say that I think God never promises us ‘The One’. Never in the Bible does God say he has made one perfect person for all of us, and we just need to bump into them. I think this belief can make relationships weaker. (Read ‘The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship)

I believe God wants us to be active. To be part of learning how to build a good relationship, and learn to work through the difficulties and put him first. (Read One Great Dating Tip From Ruth and Boaz. Really?)

Why Me? 

I got quite angry because he is basically saying not everyone is part of God’s mission

Moreover, I think this idea can lead to real damage. For example, someone once said to me that God will tell people who to marry if the couple are selected for His mission.

I got quite angry because he was basically saying not everyone is part of God’s mission or plan, only those who work for the church. If you are in the special group he will intervene in the area we all care about. Otherwise, go and figure it out.

It can leave people thinking they’ve done something wrong

I also know people who go around saying God told them who to marry, and he has been so gracious it’s been so easy. So all the married couples who are struggling, all the single people who want to get married but can’t, are basically being told they’ve done something wrong. It should be easy, and it’s their fault if it’s not.

I think this idea is so dangerous and unhelpful. It can leave people thinking they’ve done something wrong, or God isn’t helping them or not involved. I think God is involved in every step of our relationship highs and lows. Teaching and healing, and not just for some special people.

Never Ever? 

However, even if this is all true, is it right to then say that God never ever tells people who to marry? Maybe he does it sometimes but not all the time?

(The following extract is taken from page 188-189 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

It would be wrong for us to put God into a box and say that he never moves in this way. Take Dan, for instance. He was at a prayer night and a girl called Ruth caught his attention. He felt God telling him, ‘Dan, this is the woman you’re going to marry!’

Little did he know that earlier that year at a different prayer meeting Ruth had seen him and felt God say to her, ‘That’s your husband!’ About six months later they became good friends, and now they are happily married.

We Can Get It Wrong 

But before you get on your knees to beg God for a similar miraculous intervention, consider the following: First, we can get it wrong.

No-one is infallible, especially when feelings are involved. Our emotions and longings can cloud what we sense God is saying to us, and we can end up telling God what we want to hear, instead of listening to what he is saying.

We also tend to hear these stories only when there’s a happy ending, and not the countless others where it didn’t work out. When Elisha and Pete met, they both believed God had directly told them, through dreams and words, that he wanted them to date.

Sometimes our desires can interfere with what we think God is saying

Things had lined up amazingly, and they began to date and even serve God together. But cracks soon appeared, and after a while, the relationship that had seemed so promising at the start fizzled out. Both were left feeling let down by the other and by God.

But maybe their attraction for each other and their desire to go out had clouded what they had heard from God? Sometimes our desires can interfere with what we think God is saying. No Christian would ever say they never get it wrong.

Work Work Work

Secondly, even couples who feel God has given them clear signs still have to work at their relationship.

A word from God didn’t smooth the way for Dan and Ruth to happy-ever-after-land. God may have helped them to notice each other, but he didn’t lift all responsibility from their shoulders. They still had to learn to be selfless, to put each other first and work at strengthening their relationship.

They still had to choose to make it work, and not sit back and expect God to give them an easy ride. In our experience, it’s rare for God to tell people outright who they should date or marry. And whether or not he does, he still teaches us how to date well and makes us responsible for the decisions we make. We all have to grow in Christ, which leads to maturity.

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

For Every Dan And Ruth 

I hear a lot about romantic joys and let downs in this job. For every Dan and Ruth, there are dozens of Elishas and Petes. Who thought they heard but ended up splitting up. It is sad.

They filter out all of the time they heard wrongly from God

Interestingly, when I meet people like Dan and Ruth and really push them, they often say ‘Well I thought God was telling me to marry this other person, but it didn’t work out. And that happened with someone else too. But this time, it was different!’

In other words, they filter out all of the times they wrongly heard from God and give the fairy tale ending.

I don’t think God does tell us who to marry, I think he has a better plan, a more exciting plan. One which involves us and includes married couples who are struggling, single people, and dating couples who are unsure.  It starts with us being real. (Read ‘The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship)

Imagine If…

Imagine if we were real about our relationships woes. We told people when we are struggling in marriage or working through dating issues. That we told people the ups and downs of past relationships, instead of the fairy tale version.

Imagine if we told people the truth, so that in their struggles they don’t feel as alone, and see that God is still with them and helping them in this area.

The next time someone asks you about relationships, let’s be real and tell them something God has done which is great, as well as a struggle.

What do you think about ‘the One’ myth? Comments welcome below. 

Originally posted 20/3/2017

‘The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship

Church Dating Culture, Healthy Relationship Rhythms

Many Christians believe that God has created one perfect person out there for ‘me’. So all we need to do is find them. But I think this idea isn’t ever mentioned or taught in the Bible. In addition, ‘The One’ myth undermines the chances of us building a healthy long-lasting relationship. 

I deliver a lot of talks about dating, singleness, relationships and faith. I usually try to lead a Q & A when I can because it’s important that people feel like they can ask the questions that are important to them, and discuss this important area more.

Many questions come up, but there are lots that usually get asked whenever I deliver a talk. One of these questions goes something like ‘Does God Bring Me the One?’.

I believe we make ‘The One’, rather than find ‘The One’

I always say that I believe we make ‘The One’, rather than find ‘The One’. I say this because I believe that ‘The One’ myth robs us of God’s intentions for our romantic relationships.

Hollywood Stories vs Biblical Stories 

In films, in tv programs, and in books, we clearly see ‘The One’ myth being reinforced. Someone is single (or maybe even in another relationship) and they then meet someone who seems perfect. This person may seem wrong or unattainable at first, and there are some ‘nearly but no’ moments along the way. However, they end up together in the end.

They go off into the sunset and the story ends.

This story teaches us that ‘The One’ is out there, and when we find them they will make us happy. The problem is, this idea isn’t seen in the Bible, ever.

The problem is, this idea isn’t seen in the Bible, ever

Nowhere at any point, does the Bible say that God has designed one ‘perfect’ person for us. It doesn’t teach that one person will be the source of all our joy and self-worth either.

It talks about God having a plan, although that is more to do with his Kingdom being built and we’re invited into God’s story, but even when the plans are more individualistic, it never says that a perfect partner is waiting around the corner.

‘The One’ myth doesn’t come from the biblical authors, but rather Hollywood directors.

It Makes Relationships Weaker 

If we believe in ‘The One’ myth, if we believe that one person will compliment us perfectly, then when a relationship gets hard or we have an argument, it can be interpreted as a sign that we need to end it.

After all ‘The One’ will be perfect, so any relationship difficulty means we aren’t with ‘The One’, right?

We know we aren’t perfect, but we expect to find someone who is perfect that will sort out all of our problems

But if you ask anyone in a long-term relationship, anyone who has been married for a long time, then they will say relationships take work. You need to negotiate through the hard times. You need to discuss and communicate problems.

Relationships take work. We know we aren’t perfect, but we expect to find someone who is perfect that will sort out all of our problems. ‘The One’ myth can make us think relationships are easy and like we don’t need to work on our relationships.

Making ‘The One’

I believe that God cares about our lives more than we know. I believe that he cares more about our relationships than we know. He wants to bless us. And I also think he is more concerned with us making ‘The One’.

I believe God wants us to be active (Read One Great Dating Tips From Ruth and Boaz. Really?). We’re meant to enjoy falling in love. But romantic relationships involve us learning to communicate, work through the hard times and build something together.

Making ‘The One’, and knowing how to date in a way that involves you getting to know the person in front of you (Read What Should We Do On A First Date?), and learning to grow together and enjoy it, isn’t about waiting around for a magic moment. It’s about getting involved and bringing God into the process and building something worth having.

Imagine if…

Imagine if, we helped people around us put time and energy into learning how to build God-centred, mutually enjoyable romantic relationships. If we gave them the tools to make great dating decisions, instead of letting them worry about if they have missed ‘The One’, or if God has forgotten about them. Let’s ask each other, how can I/ can I help them make it work, and ‘make ‘The One’, rather than worrying about bumping into ‘The One’ in the future.

Do you think making ‘The One’ is better than finding ‘The One’?

Originally posted 21/11/2016

One Great Dating Tip From Ruth and Boaz. Really?

Healthy Relationship Rhythms, What The Bible Says

The dating culture often teaches us to sit back until the right person comes along to completes us. Yet the Bible always wants us to be active when it comes to relationships. It talks about us learning to build healthy and good relationships that bring community, and a sense of belonging. The story of Ruth and Boaz is a great example of this.

In my last post, I talked about how God’s word never gives us a dating manual. In fact, it doesn’t even talk about dating. However, it does talk a lot about relationships and godly principles for them. These are what we can take hold of and learn to apply to the dating culture around us; to transform it and build amazing relationships. (Read the last post by clicking here.)

The Bible constantly calls for us to be active in all relationships

I also said I would talk about one of these principles in my next post. Which is what I’m doing now! Lots could be said and there are many principles that are relevant, but I want to focus on the idea of activeness.

Activeness in The Bible

The Bible constantly calls for us to be active in all relationships. For example, the 10 commandments are about people actively choosing to put God first when we’re told to make time for him on the Sabbath and not worship other gods. We are also told to make sure we don’t murder, steal or lie to each other. (Exodus 20:1-17)

Jesus chose to restore the relationship between God and humanity and chose to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13). We are told to seek reconciliation with those we hurt and seek to restore and build relationships with those around us (Matthew 5:23-24; Ephesians 2:11-22; Philippians 2:3-4)

This principle is seen throughout Scripture

God’s word teaches about being active, learning to be a good friend, to love our neighbour more, to be a better colleague, boss, etc. In all relationships, we’re told and encouraged to actively be involved in learning to build strong and good ones. This principle is seen throughout Scripture. It’s a principle for all relationships. And one I think we can apply to the modern dating relationship

Ruth and Boaz

Here is another example, of two people who had a romantic relationship in the Bible, but actively sought to put God at the centre and be part of building a strong relationship, rather than waiting for a strong relationship to just happen.

(The following extract is taken from page 65-66 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Here’s another powerful story of individuals making plans and godly choices for their relationships, within the limits of their culture, Naomi, her husband and two sons were from Bethlehem, but when famine struck they were forced to go to Moab. Naomi’s sons married Moabite women called Ruth and Orpah.

But tragedy struck; her sons and husband died, leaving her widowed and childless. Orpah returned to her family, but Ruth vowed to stay with Naomi, even though that meant leaving her country and settling in Bethlehem, in a foreign land.

It might seem like a strange decision for a young woman to make. But the fact that this story of two poor women gets into the Bible at all is a sign of just how impressive and godly their selfless attitude and proactive lifestyle are.

To make ends meet, Ruth takes to collecting food by picking up the scraps that the workers leave behind in their fields. It’s risky work for a young, single, poor woman,  who might have been attacked by the field workers. But she has the good fortune of finding a barley field owned by Boaz, who was in fact, a long lost relative of Naomi’s. He instructs his men to keep their hands off her.

‘Then Ruth bowed low with her face to the ground and said to him, “I am not an Israelite. Why have you been so kind to notice me?” Boaz answered her, “I know about all the help you have given your mother-in-law after your husband died. You left your father and mother and your own country to come to a nation where you did not know anyone. May the Lord reward you for all you have done. May your wages be paid in full by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for shelter.” 
(Ruth 2:10-11 NCV)

The Meaning of The Story

Eventually, they end up marrying. We know it is not the best ever chat-up line, but it seems to have done the trick! When [hearing] this story in Sunday school… it sounded like a fairy-tale; Ruth, the beautiful but poor woman, trapped in her mean Mother-in-law’s house, is finally rescued by the handsome prince, Boaz.

But this isn’t what happened at all. Ruth isn’t a passive princess in a tower, she’s a bold woman who sees in Boaz a good man who can offer the kind of protection she and Naomi need. She introduces the idea of marriage to Boaz, and being a man of integrity, Boaz agrees to marry her, after speaking to the necessary people and following the right procedures (Ruth 3- 4)

They were active, honourable, God-seeking participants in the story of God – not passengers

We don’t know if Ruth was pretty or Boaz handsome; we do know that both of them were ready to act when they needed to.

They go down in biblical history not only as blood ancestors of Jesus, but as character ancestors, with the same kind of compassion and integrity that Jesus showed. Their relationship was not just about feelings and their own interests; rather it was based on the rhythms of God’s desires.

They were active, honourable, God-seeking participants in the story of God – not passengers.

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

I want you to know that God loves you. He cares about your relationship. His word contains principles and teaching that can help us thrive as we date, and in all of our relationships. Activeness is one that I think we can apply and helps us to build good, enjoyable, strong relationships.

How do you think you can be active as you date? Comments welcome below

Originally posted 26/10/2016

When You Pray About Liking Someone, How Do You Know If God Says Yes?’

Healthy Relationship Rhythms, Real Life Stories

It would be great wouldn’t it if the big decision about who I should date, and the even bigger decision about who I should marry, was told to us by God. If he told us who to say yes to and who to say no to. But I don’t think this happens. I think God has a more exciting plan for our relationships that involves us praying for the tools to build something worth having. 

The last article I wrote was inspired by my friend who asked me ‘How do I know when we are an official couple?’ He was struggling with knowing when the move from ‘getting to know each other’ to being in an ‘official’ relationship happens (Read it here).

I also mentioned that during that same evening he asked me ‘When you pray about liking someone, how do you know if God says yes?’ It came from someone who had been hurt by relationships in the past and caused some hurt too. And he didn’t want this relationship to be like one of those.

He also wanted to make sure God was involved in every area of his life, including the area of romantic relationships. He wanted to date well, which is great to see someone with that intention. He also said that when he prayed about it, sometimes he gets really excited, but sometimes he gets really worried. This meant he didn’t know if God was saying yes or no.

I think God is involved in us ‘Making the One’ rather than ‘Finding the One’

I told him that he had kind of already hit the nail on the head because when it comes to praying about this: feelings can be misleading. We can end up interpreting events or feelings as ‘signs from God’, not because we are trying to twist it, but because we’re so desperate to hear from him and very emotionally invested. Anything can become confirmation or condemnation.

I believe God loves us (Romans 5:8), I believe God wants us to call on him for everything and make him a big part of our lives (Hebrews 4:14-16; Romans 12:1-2). But I don’t think he is leading us to ‘The One’ in some cosmic romantic hide and seek game.

I think God is involved in us ‘Making the One’ rather than ‘Finding the One’.

I believe God wants us to learn how to be a loving friend, loving disciple, loving colleague and church member. God does intervene, but we have to learn to forgive people, not hold grudges, serve more, and make more time for God and pray. We need to learn to love God and our neighbour in all circumstance.

I think when it comes to dating, the same rules apply.

I don’t think God clicks his fingers and says, ‘This is the One, you will never fight anymore or have arguments’. I think God wants us to learn how to be selfless, how to put the other person first, how to enjoy each others company, support each other and grow together.

I said to my friend that praying for a sign assumes that we have nothing to do with making a relationship work.

I think praying for God to make sure you are always honest and not leading people on fits into God’s plan. I think praying that you can see each other for who you really are fits into his plan. I think praying that there is respect and an understanding that you both need to put in the effort to make the relationship grow together fits into his plan.

I said to my friend that praying for a sign assumes that we have nothing to do with making a relationship work. Or that we just need to find the One and then that will sort out all of my doubts, insecurities and fears. But I believe God wants us to be involved in building something worth having, and learn to bring discipleship into dating.

I told him to pray that they will be able to decide if they are going to build something with the person in front of them and make them the one

I told my friend to pray for God to bless them and allow them to be honest and for them to see how they are compatible, and how they aren’t. I told him to pray that they will be able to decide if they are going to build something with the person in front of them and make them ‘The One’.

My friend instantly relaxed. He knew that it wasn’t about waiting for God to release some cosmic information, but that God was always with him and with them, and allowing them to learn to love him and each other more and grow.

I believe that’s much better than waiting for ‘The One” to appear, and fits in with the way we approach discipleship in other areas of our lives.

We all know it would be easier to get a sign from heaven, but if God doesn’t work like that, what should we be praying for instead? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 13/10/2016