Here are 4 possible reasons God keeps allowing you to experience disappointment when it comes to dating.
1. God May Keep Allowing You to Experience Disappointment with Dating to Help Motivate You to Change Your Approach
When my wife and I found out that our first child was going to be a boy (8 years ago), we started reading the book called Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. In the book there’s a section where he is talking about some general differences between boys and girls. He states:
[Girls] react more negatively to pain, and try not to make the same mistake twice. Boys, on the other hand, are slower to learn from calamities. They tend to think that their injuries are caused by ‘bad luck.’ Maybe they’ll have better luck next time.”
If you’ve been around boys and girls, you know this quote is funny because it’s true. But I can’t help but notice how this is similar to how some of us treat relationship situations. Instead of looking at our risky behavior or unwise dating practices, we often have the mentality of a risky boy who looks at each avoidable accident like it was just bad luck again.
For example, if you have been trying online dating for years and never been on a date, that would be disappointing. But is it reasonable to assume you are truly that unlucky? Are other people who have been on dates through online dating really that much luckier than you? Or let’s say you keep meeting people who you have premarital sex with. You get disappointed with yourself because of how weak you become in situations like these. That is disappointing. But if this keeps happening, isn’t there something you should probably change in your approach?
The point I’m making is that dating is not bad. How you date is really the issue. God often allows disappointment in dating to let us know when we need to change something to our dating approach. As Ephesians 5:15-18 states:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit . . . .”
2. God May Keep Allowing You to Experience Disappointment with Dating to Help You Develop Your Inner Self-Control and Expectations
I couldn’t find the actual study conducted where I heard this analysis, but when I was learning about poverty while working at a men’s homeless shelter, I remember learning that the rate of unhappiness with one’s material possessions increases based upon what others have around you.
In other words, if someone lives in a third-world country and thus by first-world standards we consider them poor, this does not necessarily mean that someone in a third-world country is less happy than someone in a first world-country who is considered poor. Why? Because when you are poor in a first-world country, you are surrounded by people who are not poor. Your awareness of their wealth compared to your poverty increases your rate of unhappiness. But if someone living in a third-world country is surrounded by other people in similar circumstances and they are not surrounded by wealthy people, they are often more content with their material wellbeing because they are not comparing themselves to others with much more. So the rate of the perceived wealth gap is actually a strong factor in overall unhappiness with one’s finances.
This same idea occurs in dating too. In other words, when your expectations far exceed your experiences, there is a strong correlation to your rate of disappointment. If you go out with someone who you were super excited about, but the date was rather average, you will be very disappointed. However, if you go out with someone you thought you would really dislike but the date was average, you will actually be happy at the end of the night that things went so well.
Disappointment in dating is often directly linked to our expectations in dating. It’s natural and healthy to get excited about someone you really like. But if you don’t have the inner self-control to avoid getting your hopes up to unrealistic expectations, then you will continue to be disappointed.
If this is a regular pattern for you, God may be highlighting this to help you see the need to increase your inner self-control and management of your emotions. Philippians 4:6-7 says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
3. God May Keep Allowing You to Experience Disappointment in Dating to Help You Let Go of What You Can’t Have So You Will Be Able to Enjoy What You Can Have
Christians often come to a realization that things in this world, like dating, can never be the source of true happiness. This is a good realization. But oftentimes we then go too far and start to believe that things like dating are bad and should be avoided. We wrongly assume that to avoid disappointment we must completely avoid the things that are causing disappointment. But this isn’t always true.
Sin is when you take a good thing and use it in a bad way. Idolatry is when you take a created thing and let it replace the Creator. My point is, dating is not the issue. The pressure you are putting on dating to make you happy is the real issue. Relationships and marriage are good gifts from God, but they will always bring disappointment if you ask them to replace God in your life.
By letting go of your hope that a relationship will finally make you completely happy, you are then freeing yourself to enjoy a relationship in the ways that it can make you happy. God may be allowing you to keep getting disappointed in dating so you will stop putting so much pressure on relationships to be your source of joy.
Notice how this principle is expressed when it comes to money in 1 Timothy 6:17, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Paul says that riches are uncertain, thus they are not to be hoped in. Only God can handle all of our hope. But he also said God provides earthly things for us to enjoy.
This same idea can be applied to dating. Don’t put your hope in it. And when you do release the reigns a bit and lower your expectations for how much a relationship can satisfy you, you will also then be better equipped to enjoy a relationship for what it can be rather than always getting disappointed by what it can’t be.
4. God May Keep Allowing You to Experience Disappointment with Dating to Help You Let Go of False Ideas and Hopes That Can Never Be Satisfied Through a Human Relationship
My point for this article is not to say that you should never get disappointed about any relationships. It’s healthy to experience appropriate emotions for the things you experience. Happy things should make you happy and sad things should make you sad. Christians are not called to be Buddhist monks who are detached from all emotions. Jesus wept when Lazarus was dead even though he knew he was about to raise him from the dead (John 11:35).
So it’s okay to experience appropriate levels of disappointment with dating experiences that do not go the way that you had hoped. But things go too far when God is not the main source of our deepest hope. We have to keep things in perspective and remember that while a human relationship can be a blessing from God, God’s presence is the ultimate source of joy our hearts crave the most. As Psalm 16:1-2, 8-11 states:
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’ . . . I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
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