Many of the things we do in relationships are actually done without any thought. We have feelings, responses, and actions that become habits in how we interact with the opposite sex.
If these habits are unhealthy, you could be unknowingly self-sabotaging yourself and keeping yourself from love. But by becoming more self-aware of any of these hidden relationship habits, you can start making important changes that will dramatically improve your love life.
So here are 8 relationship habits you should avoid because they will keep you lonely.
1. Putting Others First Who Are Putting You Last
Self-sacrifice in relationships is biblical, but it’s meant to be mutual (Philippians 2:1-5). When you only take half of a truth found in the Bible, you are sabotaging yourself.
It’s easy to be so focused on being a great Christian who loves people and sacrifices for them that you are forgetting to take care of your own heart too. Self-care is not unbiblical (Proverbs 4:23).
Sure, many people take it too far and become selfish and never sacrifice for others. But again, if you are always putting others first and you are not surrounding yourself with people who are willing to treat you how you are treating them (Luke 6:31), then this habit will keep you lonely and emotionally exhausted.
2. Following the Crowd
There’s something in us that feels safer in a group. When a crowd is going one way, it feels dangerous to go the opposite way. As Christians, this is a very bad habit in relationships. Everyone around you will be sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend, dating people for superficial reasons, and jumping from relationship to relationship for immature reasons.
Just because something is normal doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because most people are doing something doesn’t mean this is God’s way. If you want God’s best, you have to reject the ways of the world (James 4:4). If you want to find healthy love and avoid unnecessary loneliness, you have to break the habit of following the crowd (Matthew 7:13-14).
3. Believing and Mimicking What You See on Social Media
Time is not meant to be frozen, and yet this is exactly what social media does. It can never give you an accurate picture of reality because it always just captures a small snippet of time and space and leaves out the full context of that moment.
If you see a boyfriend and girlfriend doing a choreographed dance to some bubbly song on TikTok and then think to yourself, “Wow, what a cute couple,” your being sold a lie. They might be a great couple or they might be a terrible couple. Their ability to dance on TikTok is irrelevant.
Social media can unknowingly be creating superficial habits in you where you are valuing the wrong things in relationships. And our values are what will shape our lives.
Romans 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
4. Automatically Saying No All the Time
When we are caught off guard, we usually resort to our default position. And for Christians dealing with relationships, are default position is usually “Guard your heart.”
Obviously guarding your heart is very biblical and wise (Proverbs 4:23). We are consistently commanded in the Bible to be very careful when choosing our friends (Proverbs 13:20). But these commands to be wise and guarded are not commands to always assume the worst of everyone before you have any evidence, good or bad.
So before you say no to an invitation, to someone’s romantic advances, or to a stranger who seems to be showing you interest, at least investigate this before saying no. We often even say no to ourselves when we have feelings for someone, assuming our desires are wrong and not what God wants.
I’m not saying you should always say yes to every relationship opportunity or romantic inclination you have yourself, but if you are habitually saying no, you will be missing out.
5. Going Too Far in Your Heart When You Like Someone New
People often swing between the extremes. Rather than always saying no to everyone, sometimes people always assume their new romantic interest is definitely “the one” God has for them.
Singles often form unhealthy habits of walking into a room, seeing a pretty face, and then saying to themselves, “That’s my future spouse.” Sometimes they even assume God is saying this to them. And worse yet, some people hold onto these little moments for years, just waiting to run into this person again so their relationship can blossom into marriage one day.
This is an unhealthy and unwise habit. Instead of daydreaming and prophesying about every new single person you meet, just get to know them. Through interacting like a mature adult, you quickly realize if there is any tangible evidence that you two would make a godly romantic couple.
As James 3:17 states, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
6. Projecting Past Experiences onto New People
Learning is obviously a process. We aren’t preprogrammed with everything we need to know. Throughout the course of life and throughout the experiences we go through, God will teach us important lessons.
However, if we are not applying the Bible to this learning process, we may be learning false ideas through our past relationship experiences. And then when we take these bad lessons we’ve learned into new relationship experiences, our past is then controlling our present.
Don’t saying things to yourself life, “All men just want sex” or “All women are shallow” or “Bad things always happen to me” or “I know how this is going to end.”
Learn from the past, but don’t habitually project your past hurts onto new people who have nothing to do with your past. It’s not fair to hold other people’s faults against the new people you are meeting. If you want a fresh relationship, let everyone you meet start fresh (Matthew 7:1-2).
7. Just Doing What You’ve Always Done to Meet Someone
Perhaps you read a book when you were 19 that was really helpful. It told you to just wait on God and the right person will come into your life. And perhaps this strategy kind of even worked. You stopped looking, and then at 20 you met a great person. You didn’t get married, but it was a positive dating relationship experience.
But now you are 30 and you are still acting like you are 20. You are still just waiting on God. The problem with this is that when you were 20, you were in college and surrounded by thousands of other singes. So just by osmosis you made a romantic connection with someone. But at 30, many singles are now married, people your age are busy working, and you aren’t naturally meeting tons of singles every week like you did when you were younger.
This is just one example of how “just doing what you’ve always done” can be a bad habit when it comes to looking for a healthy relationship. The reason the Bible doesn’t give all Christians a rigid blueprint about finding their spouse is because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to get married.
Some marry after a long friendship and some marry after meeting through online dating. As long as you aren’t doing something directly forbidden in Scripture (Matthew 7:24-27), there’s no right or wrong approach as you pursue a relationship. If what you are doing isn’t working, avoid the habit of just doing what you always do.
8. Limiting Yourself to a Certain “Type”
There’s nothing wrong with having preferences when it comes to romance. But it’s always a bad idea to say things like, “Oh, I only date outgoing guys; the quiet ones can’t handle me” or “I only date younger women; older women are too set in their ways” or “If a guy isn’t a lot taller than me, I can’t be attracted to him” or “I’m only attracted to blonds.”
If you are more attracted to tall guys or to blond women or to extroverts or to younger or older people, that’s fine. But don’t go too far. Surely you can see that brunettes are beautiful too, that a guy your same height can be handsome as well, and that being a little older or younger than you doesn’t really matter since it’s more about maturity.
Avoid the extremes when making a list of requirements. Don’t fall into the habit of only dating a certain “type” of man or woman. Get to know each person as an individual to see if they possess the biblical qualities and personality that you can thrive with.
As Proverbs 31:30 teaches, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Speaking of Proverbs 31, here’s an article where I discuss 8 Traits of a Proverbs 31 Woman.