Dating, relationship, marriage – these are issues that trouble our young adults in church today. At the very least, these are some of the major concerns they have. I recently chanced across this post. Reading the post and the comments made me reflect upon the content and its relevance to the discussions on relationship today. And I thought, as I reflect upon some relationship lessons that I have been through over the past three years, it may be good to list it out somehow.
1. You simply have to discriminate in this whole dating, relationship, marriage thing
One of the pet peeves when people of different faiths get together is that you shouldn’t be exclusive in your dating and narrow your choices so much to only those in your faith. I must say that this is really a convenient excuse for people to get together, as the argument self-destruct upon closer scrutiny. We generally excluded half the world’s population the moment we set out to look for a relationship/life partner. A man will naturally look for another woman and excludes other men into his selections. To be consistently inclusive, you have to include all the sexes, young and old, married and single into your selections. But even this has its own problem: the moment you make your choice, you exclude the others.
The main point is that you have to discriminate when you are choosing a life partner or getting into a relationship. Discrimination here, as it is being used, is a neutral term. It means filtering those who ‘cannot make it’ out of the net. This practically applies to everyone who is looking for a life partner. And a more practical application from this is that one might as well make a list of criteria to filter out those whom you will never want to spend your lives with. Note that this may not necessarily apply when you are just out for a good time and just want to date without commitment. In that case, it may be good to date your pet hamster who will probably provide a higher marginal utility. Just saying…
2. Discriminate too much and you find yourself in a difficult situation
I advocate discrimination but there has to be a limit in how we filter. Imagine a guy making a list of criteria as followed:
- As pretty as an angel
- Share the same faith
- Share the same vision
- Similar family background
- Attend the same church
- Serve in the same ministry
- Have the burden for the same people
- Have the same level of health and fitness to serve God
The more filter conditions we apply, the smaller the group of people you have. This runs into a problem for us because we essentially end up with fewer choices. This is a difficult situation but not entirely wrong. But I have seen situations where a person applies too much conditions and find himself in a situation where he is so desperate that he cannot find anyone. But because he is so hard up over application of these filters, he just cannot find anyone and under such circumstances. And the church or God gets the blame. I wonder if it is really necessary to get oneself in such a situation. This, I must say, happens too much with the two genders.
3. Get too desperate and you end up having less market value
There was a Ted talk video I saw sometime back. The speaker detailed a study which found that desperation generally decreases someone’s attractiveness to the opposite gender. Now, when you read this, you may not think that this applies to you as you may think that desperation means you start stalking people. I must say that this is generally not the case. Desperation manifests in very subtle ways that most people don’t realise and in very harmless ways. There is simply a vibe that people get when you get desperate and it is being socially awkward. Many times, from what I have observed, desperation manifests in the form of attempts in accelerating the relationship and rapid recovery from lost causes (i.e. you switch targets too fast). This can be very counter productive for people.
4. For guys, she wants and needs security in this whole dating, relationship, marriage thing
For the men out there, we owe it to the girl who agrees to go out with us the security that allows her to feel secure with us for the rest of her life. This may mean that you seek some stability in your life. This stability comes in different forms. For me, I decided to seek stability in ensuring that I do not get involved in too many things in church so that I get enough rest for my body. For others, it may mean that you start taking responsibility over your emotions. It may mean getting a stable job and stop pursuing hot air balloon dreams for some people. Spiritually, it may mean that you need to stop running away from God and be stable enough to lead your future spouse. Whatever the case, I learn that without stability, the future is bleak for any couples. I have seen relationships broken up because there was simply no stability in the relationship. And by the way, stability does not mean absence of disagreements and conflicts.
5. For girls, you need to consider that you are fundamentally different from the guy
Everytime some girls look for a boyfriend, they may implicitly look for another girlfriend who can connect with them emotionally and who can engage them like how they are being engaged in a girl’s hangout. This is not their fault as this is how God has created the female species. And I must say, the guy will need to be that buddy for emotional downloading. But this takes time. You need to take note that we guys are by nature not people who sit down and talk all day long and I am not suggesting you does that, by the way. Guys tend to do things together and we tend to express our thoughts in more concise terms. We are simply not wired to seek deeper conversations if we get the answers we are looking for. This means that if we ask you how’s your day, and you give an ‘ok’, it is not our nature to probe deeper.
The good news for you is that guys can be conditioned to connect with you emotionally, but this takes time and you need to practice part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is forbearance. And even so, the tendency for guys to zone out and enter into boxes continues to remain high. I am saying this because I am observing that most girls really want the security they can find in a guy but also want to connections they normally find in another girl. So you might really want to consider what you expect from the guy and help the guy to grow rather than blaming him for not meeting your needs.
These are just some observations and reflections from my experience on dating, relationship, marriage and the whole search for life partners. It is not an easy journey, but there are things we can do to make it easier. What are some of your thoughts? Share with me below some of your reflections.