It might be helpful for me to preface this blog post by letting you know that I believe in complementarianism, which is to say that men and women have different but complementary roles. (For the record, I also believe men & women have equal value, dignity, and worth.) My faith is the anchor point to that, and the lens through which I view everything, including dating. I have learned a lot – specifically in the last two – three years through God’s word and his kindness – and hope to continue learning. My blog is a place for me to catalogue that growth and my experiences, and I always hope that I’m able to leave a bit of wisdom or encouragement for those who are walking through similar things maybe a few steps behind. Without any further explanation, here are some of the big things I’ve learned these last few years through dating:
- Adaptability is key. Everyone dates differently and being the girl in the situation can be difficult…I found myself having to fight to adjust to each person’s “style” and as a result, learn to lay low because my natural tendency is to want to be in control. This control thing has been an issue since the fall with Adam & Eve! It has been so much better for me to relinquish that and just allow things to happen around me, waiting it out, and being patient. This is easier said than done for those who are type A, go-getters, or just generally like to know the plan and what is happening!
- Trust yourself if you have a strong intuition – I’ve always felt like I have a good sense of someone’s intentions and genuineness, and my gut instincts have been right more often than not. I trust myself and while I never want to be someone that is fully led by my emotions, I do want to take them into account to some extent and pray that the Lord would help guide me in making wise choices.
- This isn’t necessarily something I learned recently, because I’ve always known this about myself, but I think it’s important to have high expectations. Mine specifically have been shaped by a lot of people, experiences, and reading, but can be summarized best through Ephesians 5:22 – 30 – “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” This is the standard for me in just about every aspect of a dating relationship, because I am dating with the hope and intention of getting married. And I expected to see a foundation for this early on. Not perfection in it, but at least the very basis for this to grow. A man is called to sacrificially serve his wife, and that expectation should signal the extremely high view that God has of women – that their husbands should love them to the point of being willing to die for them, just as Christ did for us. You’re not going to find that in very many 20-something year old boys these days.
- This kind of ties in to the previous point, but I think it’s important, and I realized I valued it more than I knew. One of the best ways to earn respect (and I don’t mean to speak for all women here, but I would say this is a general consensus among my friend group and community) is to be a gentleman. Do the hard things – pick up the phone, be direct, make the plan, open the doors, walk closest to the street, stay off your phone, ask her questions, always pay. Something I have especially appreciated (and didn’t really experience prior to the dates I went on last year) is when a direct and specific expectation is set at the end of the date. Whether we’re not a good fit, or there is an interest in going on a second date to pursue things further, it’s better to just have it out there and be clear than to leave someone wondering for days. Not very many guys did this, which made me appreciate it all the more when it happened. On the flip side, doing the hard things goes for the girls, too. Pick up the phone, be direct and honest about your feelings, even if you’re unsure, be willing to let go and let him lead…be a respectful woman. Take the high road.
The middle part of last year was dominated by first dates and confusion and a whole bunch of (what felt like) wasted time. I know none of it went without a lesson learned or a purpose served, but I am thankful to have moved on from the struggle and rollercoaster of it all. Thank you Lord for Jonathan Russell and the man that he is, fulfilling #3 with so much grace and ease!!!! If you’re still in the dating game, hold on tight and hang in there. It can easily become dreadful and exhausting. If you set the bar high for yourself and for others, you’ll be in a better place and mindset if and when the right person comes along.