May 21, 2012 2 Comments
Your challenge is to 1.) determine whether your ideals for a mate are realistic and yet 2.) discipline yourself so that you don’t settle for something less than what will fulfill you. We give you (5) gender-neutral tips to help singles date smarter!
1. Be at peace with YOU.
One of the biggest hurdles to healthy dating is our propensity to disguise our true selves to please another. Never disguise the true you. We do this by playing roles in dating that seem to appeal to another. The problem is that the role is unsustainable and who we really are may not be what the other really wants for their lives. Be you so that another can see you and receive you.
2. Define your NEEDS in a mate.
Don’t confuse needs with wants. Wants are discretionary. They help you choose the best options as compared to other good options. They are not necessarily deal breakers.
On the other hand, NEEDS are deal breakers. NEEDS are those requirements for a mate that are essential for a good quality of life. We don’t continue dating those who do not satisfy our needs for a mate. For instance, a believer (Christian) will find it a NEED to have someone who is as devoted to Christ as they. A person who is not will not meet their needs–chiefly, to have someone who shares their greatest love, a love for Christ.
However, be careful. Your defined needs should be few and crystal clear. They should come from deeply held convictions. They should be quality of life concerns (Does (s)he want children, Does (s)he desire marriage, Does (s)he believe in the permanence and exclusivity of marriage, etc.).
3. Define your Wants.
WANTS are those qualities we desire in a mate that increases our attraction and our ability to connect with them in different areas (emotionally, ideologically, physically and spiritually). Again, wants are discretionary. However, they are not to be discounted. Rather, a person should have a good sense of what they want in a mate, how important each WANT is and which of their WANTS are most important.
While the most important WANTS will not rise to the level of NEEDS, they will help you determine compatibility. For instance, you may be conservative and desire to have a like-minded person with which to spend your life. On the other hand, you may have a somewhat ‘excitable’ personality and desire (WANT) to have a more emotionally level person to balance you out! If art is a big part of your life, you may desire a person who shares that passion.
WANTS create layers in relationships that facilitate a deeper intimacy. Intimacy can be had without some of our WANTS but is more easily had with them.
4. Test the (wo)man you’re dating against your NEEDS and WANTS.
This is where so many relationships go off the rails. Too many single people don’t execute due diligence!
We initially date based on attractions which do or do not hold up over time. A best practice in dating is to get to know the person better by vetting them through your friends and family as well as theirs. The best way to determine if they meet your NEEDS is to ask questions and observe their behaviors and choices. If someone says “I love the LORD”, test that against their actions. Do they read their Bible, pray and attend worship services regularly? Are they involved in any ministries? How current are these activities? What other evidences is there in their lives of their confession of faith?
Additionally, do their other relationships evidence that they will be able to satisfy your NEEDS? When you meet their friends, are their characters consistent with your dates’? Do stories told about the person align with what you NEED in them? Are your friends and family discerning anything that would cause you to re-evaluate this person? Does their conversation align with their actions (integrity, trustworthiness, reliability, transparency)?
5. Determine whether this (wo)man is capable of nurturing intimacy.
Look for walls! Marriage requires two people become of one life pursuit. This means that they enter each other as no other can. They must be able to share things with one another as with no other. Perhaps we can call this a NEED. In any event, it is important enough to warrant that all single dating people look for a quality in a prospective mate that allows him or her to open up and share those things that are vital to understanding who they are, what they believe and what their goals are.
If you are dating someone who does not communicate with you, is guarded and remains a mystery to you even late in the relationship, understand that this does not automatically change with a marriage license. You may forever be challenged to pull from them those things you NEED.
Of course, for Christians, all things are done in an atmosphere of prayer. We expect God to guide us and provide us the wisdom we ask to make these critical life choices. But there is no substitute for using the faculties He’s already given us (intelligence, wisdom, experience, observation) to date Smart.