5 Things I Wish I'd Known About Dating

A marriage counselor looks back at common relationship myths.

Oh, the things I would change if I could go back in time. I'm sure we've all felt that way at some point or another. For me in particular, the whole area of love and relationships is one that I wish I could go back and "tweak." There was so much that I wish I would have known, so much I wish I could have done differently, so many lies I wish I wouldn't have believed. 

I can’t go back and change it, but I did learn much through the process of finding love, and I can pass on some of what I’ve learned to encourage others. The following myths have done a lot of harm in the lives of many young adults, mine included. Let me tell you what I've learned:   

1) If you're too picky, you'll never get married

A while back (and I'm talking ... a long while back), a guy shipped a dozen roses to my house.  I’m not sure if it was my frizzy hair or bad make-up that attracted him (you have to wonder looking back at those pictures how you ever walked out of the house looking like that) Anyway, it was a sweet gesture from a decent young man, but to be frank, I wasn't interested.  Thankfully, I was at a healthy place in life and it didn't take long for me to know that he wasn't the right fit for me. So, rather than prolong the whole thing, I let him know honestly where I stood.

I'll never forget this day, because at the end of the conversation he made sure to tell me that I would be an old maid some day with how picky I was about dating. Now granted, he may have spoken out of his disappointment, but the truth is, he isn't the first person who said that to me during my dating years. People I love and trusted, who really believed that you could miss out on marriage by being too choosy. Since when is taking the time to make the biggest decision you will ever make in your life considered picky?

Looking back, they were all wrong—and I'm thankful for it.  I am so glad I didn't settle and that I waited for God to send me the man who is not perfect, but perfect for me.  He was the right fit, and I knew it in my heart more and more each day as we dated.  It was natural, it was easy, it was for real. Don’t let a lack of options drive one of the biggest decisions you’ll live with for the rest of your life.

2) You should only date toward marriage

There was a season in my life that I really looked down on the concept of "dating around" and thought that if I was going to date someone, I better be pretty darn sure I was going to marry them in the end.  Because ultimately, that's the goal, right? But my misinterpretation of relationships eventually got me into trouble.

But deep down, the fear of failing in a relationship was actually driving me more than the honorable pursuit of something good. Fear of failure can be a very paralyzing power, and for me, it paralyzed me into staying in a relationship that I knew wasn't right for me for far too long. 

Looking back, I see failure after failure in my relationship history. But I still see God's hand all over my past. He comforted me, guided me, stretched me, and taught me more than I realized then. So, even when relationships don't work out in the end, it's not simply failure.  Sometimes, it's freedom and a future at work that's far beyond your scope in the here and now. 

3) All the "good ones" are already taken

Some people fall on the totally opposite end of being "too picky." I've had the unfortunate opportunity to interact with men and women dating some pretty unqualified—that's an understatement—individuals simply because they think it's the best they can do.

People tend to end up with someone who they believe they deserve and sadly, for some people, their view of themselves causes them to think they deserve very little.

I look back at some of the people I invested in, and see a sad reflection of the view I had of myself. I'm thankful that God slowly transformed that view, allowing me to believe I deserve not just good or passable, but the best.

When I meet with couples in marriage counseling, often the issues they are dealing with are all things that began to take root in their dating years. 

Change your beliefs about yourself by rooting your identity and value in Christ, and then wait for the best.       

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h6>4) Entering into a dating relationship will "ruin" your friendship

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This phrase is used to often in the dating world, but now that I'm married, I don't even really know what that means. 

You're supposed to marry your best friend.  Someone you connect with deeply on an emotional, spiritual, social and physical level.  A friend who you can laugh with, talk to until 4 a.m., and cry with, but also have the freedom to do absolutely nothing with.  So, if you have that with someone of the opposite sex, maybe the friendship is the first step of something bigger.  That's the best case scenario.

Worst case scenario, a friendship doesn't ever blossom into the stage of romantic feelings, and yes, the friendship changes.  In my opinion, that's still a good thing.

Let me explain.  When I got married, the friendships I had with the opposite sex changed drastically, anyway.  When my husband became my priority, I had to guard my marriage by setting up boundaries with guy friends and distancing myself to an appropriate extent.  My guy friends were no longer carrying the role they used to carry, because they were not my husband.  He was the only man that was able to carry that special role in my life.  So like it or not, your friendships with the opposite sex will always change—either now or later when you meet your spouse.  The deep friendship you have with your spouse should never be shared with someone else.  If your friendship changes now, then it's less you have to deal with later.   

5) Marriage will solve your dating problems

I meet people all the time who think the issues and arguments that keep tripping them up in dating will magically disappear when they are married.

But for some reason this rule is never applied to other areas in life.  Things are what they are, and we expect them to stay that way. "It is what it is" has never been more accurate than in the world of dating.

When I meet with couples in marriage counseling, often the issues they are dealing with—the traits that are driving them crazy, the habits that they can't seem to get control of—are all things that began to take root in their dating years. Fast forward five years, and the things they ignored, wished away and made excuses for are magnified more than ever.  Marriage is the pressure cooker that brings them to the surface. 

So, don't rush marriage as the solution, but seek to find the solutions in your dating relationship—if there is a solution to be found. Because at the end of the day, "it is what it is," and the dynamics formed in dating carry into marriage. So, make sure it's good.

Dating is a great season to get to know yourself and to experience relationships with others in hopes of finding true love.  Don't let these lies hold you back, but use them instead to strive to achieve a healthy perspective.  Trust God first and then trust your heart.  The truth will be right around the corner. 

2 Comments

Matt Hammell

15

Matt Hammell commented…

Haha love guy's response that you are too picky. That's the way to win girls over for sure! I like your view on looking for the best. I always tell my Mom that when she says she wants me to meet someone nice. There are plenty of nice people but it doesn't make them good dating prospects

Danielle Jeffcoat

3

Danielle Jeffcoat commented…

I love this. I have never dated anyone because no one I'd ever want to date has asked. I don't consider this picky. One, the majority of guys who ask me out AREN'T Christians (which is a whole 'nother topic for another day - why arent' Christian guys stepping it up... I find this to be a common woe among Christian women), and if they ARE (which has actually only happened like, twice... ) it's usually someone I'm simply NOT attracted to on any level or we have totally different end goals for where and how we feel called to serve. Legitimate reasons. I get told all the time that "I'm being to picky," and I'd like to know where all these guys are I'm supposedly turning down for silly reasons.

and as far as the friends first thing goes YES YES YES. I very much see myself as someone who will end up with someone I'm friends with FIRST. I'm typically only attracted to guys I already have some sort of friendship with. I've always had lots of guy friends and it's helped me to learn and understand what I want int he same way as people who've dated around for years do. The VAST MAJORITY of my guy friends I would totally date if they ever asked, they just don't. I think we live in a society that teaches us that marriage = romance and candles and such. Sure, that can be a part of it, but true love, and the true ability to serve together, requires friendship. I cannot imagine anything more beautiful than being able to go home to my best friend every day. I don't need roses and doting and poems or whatever to tell me that. I just need a friend.

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