As I said the words, “You’re not ready,” we both winced. I paused and softened my tone, “I’m sorry, but you are not ready.” These were tough words to say and I’m sure tougher for my friend to hear as she struggled with loneliness — just like I once did. Based on what she was telling me about her dating choices, I had to be honest. She wasn’t ready. The hard truth is that many women aren’t ready.
Online dating sites have made dating more than a way to
connect people; it’s become a sport. For some of us, it can border on addiction. When I was single and lonely, I
could get a quick fix of attention by going online and getting a wink or an email or chatting with a man. And it wasn’t too hard to get a first date . . . as long as I wasn’t too picky. I told myself I was dating because I wanted a life-long partner, but my actions and decisions told a different story. I was going online for attention, for a
short term solution to my ever-present loneliness. I did this for years until 2008 when I decided to accept Christ as Lord of my life.
If you haven’t read my story before, here is the Cliff’s Notes version: I had never had a long-term relationship and I had a horrible habit of dating for attention rather than dating with INTENTION. I accepted Christ and
took a three plus year dating break while I sought to heal
from the inside out through Christ, and deepen my relationship with him. I eventually did go back into the dating world with a VERY different agenda and standards. I met my husband and we were married after dating for one year. After years of dating for attention, it took years of reprogramming to realize that my desire (to be married) and my actions didn’t match. I have since come to realize that there are really only two reasons people date: for attention or with intention. In other words, you’re either dating for trouble or for marriage.
Attention: Our culture actually encourages us to date for attention with logic such as, “You need experience” and, “Why not have fun until you’re married!” But why would you need experience in dating if your real intention is to one day be married to just one man? My years of dating experience did not serve me well when I did meet Dale, other than to be certain he was different than MANY other men, but if I’d had the boundaries and standards in place years ago, I would’ve avoided those other men in the first place. And as for dating being fun . . .I have to say, dating is not really fun unless you’re dating someone who has the same goal as you. Ironically, dating makes most women anxious. The repeated rejection involved in “dating for fun” ruins our self esteem, not to mention the compromises we make with our bodies when we’re seeking attention and approval. When we are not dating with true intention (toward marriage), every date feels like a barometer for, “Am I good enough?” The only opinion we should care about is God’s undying love for us which should cause us to trust he has an equally yoked husband he is preparing for us. And instead we seek affirmation from strangers online. Trouble.
Intention: When I dated with intention to enter into marriage, my approach was very different. First I prayed for years that God would make me ready and also make ready my future husband. I prayed over my future husband and thought a lot about his character. I took time to pray over and think about my standards because I didn’t want to waste time with a man who wouldn’t be equally yoked with me in marriage. And possibly most importantly, I had taken significant time pursuing God’s will around my dating life, so when I began dating again I TRUSTED that God had marriage and good things planned for me. That trust was my safety net. If I didn’t trust that God had a plan for my marriage, I would have eventually compromised and made excuses in a panic. Instead, because I trusted God, I said no to several men after the first date because I knew those men would require me to compromise on character. Why would I do that when I trusted God had the best planned for me?! Instead, I dated with the intention of marriage. My initial conversations with men looked very different. My first dates included bold conversations about abstinence, values, and faith. And instead of feeling scared that I’d ruin my chances, I felt my confidence grow because I knew as long as I was following God’s lead, I would not ever get too far down the road with the wrong man. Instead of being focused on getting a hit of attention, I was focused on God’s plan for me: marriage.
I have been the girl who has dated for attention and went down the troubled path too many times to count. Perhaps that is why my friend could hear me when I told her I didn’t think she was ready. I spoke from experience and I spoke out of love. If you are dating for attention, would you consider taking a break and seeking God so you can be ready to date with intention? The Bible has great news for us: God designed us for relationship! He did not design us to be lonely! And he requires you start with the most important relationship first–your relationship with him. I promise that the journey you’ll take in allowing God to get you ready for the future he has planned for you is paved with blessings and adventure!