This question is one I hear people ask again and again. Whether it’s single people looking for a date, people who’ve gone through a break-up, married people reflecting on the current culture around them, or a couple navigating their relationship. There’s just a general feeling that dating is hard work! It’s time we unpacked why, so we can become better equipped moving forwards.
I’ve been involved in Christian dating, writing about it, researching it, and trying to help equip people with the tools we need to do it well for many years now.
I became a Christian almost 15 years ago, and my personal experience of singleness and dating was always at the forefront of my mind. I then studied this cultural phenomenon, wrote a book about it, and have been delivering talks and posting blogs for over 10 years. In amongst all of that, I dated my now wife for 5 years.
I can honestly say, during that whole time period, I’ve heard many people from every relationship status group say they think Christian dating is hard.
We can do it better, and in a more fulfilling way
Who can blame them? Everywhere we look there seems to be another hurdle to overcome.
It’s worth looking at what makes it hard so that we can do it better and help others do the same, and do it in a more fulfilling way. I truly believe dating should be enjoyable, yet many people struggle to say that is the case.
It Should Be Easy, Right?
One of the main problems I see people facing, again and again, is confronting the belief that relationships are ‘easy’. TV, movies and Social Media make us think that romance should be easy and natural. We just relax and are taken along for the ride.
On the other hand, the church often has a culture which says ‘God will bring you The One if you’re just patient and pray hard enough’. Again, making us think we can just sit back and it will sort itself out. (Read Will God Answer My Prayers About Who I Should Date?)
I think the biblical response is for us to realise God wants us to be involved in making The One. That he wants us to be active, to learn how to be a better partner, and learn how to navigate the highs and lows of a relationship.
This idea isn’t as attractive as the fairytale, but it’s real and authentic. Actively investing in the process, learning how to build a relationship worth having, is more rewarding and more helpful. (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)
No Faithfulness Equals Confusion
Another big reason I have found that seems to make Christian dating hard is the confusion around faithfulness and commitment.
I always say that dating isn’t marriage, and the commitment will not be the same. Many dating relationships will break up (although we need to learn how to do it well). However, people often end up being so non-committal and not knowing where the other person stands, that lots of confusion follows.
The balance needs to be re-addressed
Having a relationship that makes us feel safe and secure, requires mutual trust and knowing that you will be there for each other. That can’t happen without commitment. Yet the dating culture says ‘try before you buy’, make it all about ‘me me me’, and commitment becomes the optional extra for the future.
The balance needs to be re-addressed. We need to realise some level of faithfulness is needed from the start, otherwise, the foundations we lay will never be strong enough to build the relationship we crave. (Read What Does Faithfulness Look Like When I’m Dating?)
Pressure From Others
There is also a lot of unintentional pressure put on people in the church when it comes to dating. It’s understandable, everyone likes the excitement of a new relationship and wants to see people get engaged.
However, it can make people think that dating is something to be rushed. Or the relationship only counts once a proposal happens. I’ve written about this topic before, and how we can avoid this trap. (Read 3 Simple Rules For Building A Healthy Dating Church Culture).
This pressure can make dating harder, but by taking the pressure off we can help people thrive in this area.
Pressure From Ourselves
We also need to realise that the culture around us, which now says we get to choose who we date and marry and no one else should get involved, is great in many ways. Yet it means it’s totally left up to us to navigate, pretty much on our own. So we have pressure to settle down and to make the right choice, all on our own.
It can make dating feel overwhelming.
We need to talk more honestly
We need to realise no-one is born with the skills needed to find and maintain a mutually enjoyable long lasting relationship. We all need to learn this stuff. So we need to talk more honestly about our hopes, fears and mistakes. (Read Amazing, Enjoyable, But Not Easy. The Secret Behind Great Relationships).
Imagine if we stopped to evaluate the culture around us. Christian dating is hard and can feel like a battle sometimes, but we can help ourselves and each other. We can challenge myths and assumptions, and think about how to do it better.
Realising relationships are meant to be fun but aren’t easy, realising good relationships require commitment, and taking the pressure off other people, and ourselves, can help to make Christian dating less hard. (Read Why I Told Joshua Harris To Redeem Rather Than Reject Dating)
What else do you think makes it hard? Comments welcomed below
Originally posted 1/7/2019