Here are 5 things God wants you to do as soon as you start a new dating relationship with someone so it can be as healthy as possible.
1. When You Start a New Relationship with Someone, God Wants You to Connect and Assess Rather Than Just Connecting or Just Assessing
Dating will always be confusing because by definition it is a season of life where you are trying to get your questions answered. I believe the wisest approach for Christians when dating is to use it as a tool to figure out if God does or does not want you to marry this person.
In other words, if you already know God does not want you to marry this person, there’s no point to date him or her. On the other hand, if you already truly knew God wanted you to marry this person, here too there is now no reason to date this person. Dating should only be used when you are unsure if God does or does not want you to marry this person.
To accomplish this goal and get your questions answered about the future of this relationship, you have to do two things simultaneously that are not easy to do at the same time. You must connect with this person while also assessing this person.
If all you do is try to connect and you never assess them, then you are basically trying to marry this person no matter what, which defeats the purpose of dating. On the other hand, if all you do is assess this person, you will not be nurturing the relationship and this person will feel judged and unloved by you, causing a breakup to be imminent.
So right from the start of a relationship, you must seek to find a healthy balance of connecting while also guarding your heart and still assessing this person through a biblical lens. The more you are connecting, the more you must be assessing. Once you have connected and assessed enough, you then need to either get married or break up. As Ephesians 5:15-17 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.”
2. When You Start a New Relationship with Someone, God Wants You to Set Emotional Boundaries Immediately
When Christians hear the phrase “boundaries in dating,” usually the first thing we think of is physical intimacy boundaries meant to prevent sexual sin. But before even thinking about our bodies, it is wiser to first think about our hearts and minds. Why? Because what we feel, think, and believe will actually lead to what we physically do in our lives and relationships.
It’s also dangerous to only think about physical boundaries because many well-meaning Christian boyfriend and girlfriends feel like the only difference between marriage and dating is that once you get married you can have sex. But that is a big mistake. If a boyfriend and girlfriend treat each other like a husband and wife just without having sex, they will be committing emotional promiscuity.
Perhaps you have never heard the term “emotional promiscuity,” but just as you can cross sexual boundaries and commit physical promiscuity, you can also cross emotional boundaries in dating and thus commit a promiscuity of the heart. As Proverbs 4:23 explains, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Just as you want to fully give your body to your spouse once you get married by having sex, God also wants you to be able to give your heart to your spouse in a way that is special to marriage as well.
Here’s a few tips to help you avoid emotional promiscuity:
- Don’t talk about how you both know that you will get married one day. If you are going to get married, get engaged and start planning the wedding. Don’t talk about it. Be about it.
- Don’t try to be each other’s counselors. You are not called to mentor or counsel your boyfriend or girlfriend. This creates unhealthy dependencies.
- Don’t make promises to each other. Just let your yes be yes and your no be no. There’s no point to make guarantees about your future together.
- Think really carefully about saying the words “I love you.” If you truly love someone, show it in your actions and commitment rather than just using words which can often make a couple feel closer than they really are.
There’s a lot more that could be said, but the main point here is that when you start a new relationship, start it right by forming healthy emotional boundaries right from the beginning.
3. When You Start a New Relationship with Someone, God Wants You to Set Physical Boundaries Immediately
While emotional boundaries should come first in my opinion, we must not be unaware of the power of sexual temptation, especially when you are emotionally connecting with someone in dating. Again, emotionally connecting is good when done slowly and respectfully. Naturally, therefore, you should also then be sexually attracted to the person you are dating. If you are not emotionally connecting and if you are not sexually drawn to the person you are dating, this is actually not a good thing.
You should want to have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend if you two were to get married one day. If you never become attracted it probably means you two are not meant to be. So the sexual attraction is not the problem in dating. The problem only occurs when you start getting sexually tempted and then start falling to those temptations.
1 Corinthians 6:18 gives us some short but powerful advice on how to overcome sexual temptation. It states, “Flee from sexual immorality.” If you are tempted to commit sexual sin with someone you are dating, it does not mean you must break up. But you still must obey the command to flee sexual immorality. While you are dating, you must avoid putting yourself in compromising situations that you know will leave you both vulnerable to sexual sin. Here’s a few practical tips that could help:
- Be careful when kissing. If you are making out and kissing in a sexual way, you are going to keep going. God did not make your body to just kiss and then stop. Kissing always leads to more.
- Be careful when laying down next to each other. It’s easier to control your bodies when you are sitting up. Laying down is a natural signal to your body to open up and drop your guard. If you both lay next to each other, it will be very hard not to fall into sexual sin.
- Avoid being alone late at night and when you are both tired. I’m not saying to never be alone. But when it is night or you both are tired, it is much easier to fall into sexual sin. Nothing good happens at 2am when you are alone in a dark room with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Eventually, the only way to flee sexual immorality when you are dating someone is to break up or to get married. Endlessly dating for years is pretty much a guarantee you will be committing sexual sin while you are dating.
4. When You Start a New Relationship with Someone, God Wants You to Include Other People in Your Journey Together
It’s good for a boyfriend and girlfriend to want to spend every second together. It’s not good if a boyfriend and girlfriend actually spend every second together. Even in marriage a husband and wife need other important people in their lives to stay balanced and healthy.
You must resist the temptation to lose the influence of your Christian friends, family, and spiritual mentors from church. Just like a wolf tries to isolate one sheep from the flock so it is easier to take down, so too does the devil want you to lose your healthy Christian community.
When your relationship first begins, it will be really easy to get totally consumed with each other. You should have some alone time. You should go on dates with just the two of you. But if you make an intentional effort to also include other people in your time together as a couple, it will be much easier to stay balanced. As Proverbs 15:22 states, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
5. When You Start a New Relationship with Someone, God Wants You to Pray for the Ability to Follow His Will Rather Than Pleading with God for Him to Accomplish Your Will
We have to come back to the purpose of healthy Christian dating. It’s not wise to make it your purpose to marry the person you are dating. It’s not wise to make it your purpose to find flaws in the person you are dating so you can break up. Rather, the purpose of Christian dating is to discover what God wants for you two.
This purpose should also direct your prayers. How you pray will affect how you live. If you just spend all your time praying that God will let you two get married, you will be dating in a way where you are just trying to make marriage happen rather than trying to figure out if God actually wants you two to get married.
So right from the start, don’t just ask God to let you marry the person you are now dating. Rather, ask God to continue to give you the ability to follow his will for your life and for this relationship. Remember how Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).