Is Dating About Marriage?


This is the fourth article in my series of 5 Christian Dating Myths. This addresses Myth #3: Dating is about marriage. (I should only say yes if I suspect there is potential down the road.)

 I had a very serious boyfriend in high school. We were convinced that marriage was in our future and so were my classmates, voting me first to get married in my senior yearbook. But like many young romances, we broke up.

As I went to college, I assumed more dates would follow and a new gentleman would sweep me off my feet.  Unfortunately, just the opposite happened. No one was asking me out.

Looking back, I think my expectations about dating changed. In high school, I looked at dating as an opportunity to go to a dance, be taken out to dinner or go to a movie. And if someone asked, I generally said yes. In college, I saw dating as way to find my potential spouse. I think subconsciously, I didn’t want another painful breakup, so I was picky about who I even allowed myself to be interested in. My seriousness about dating, and my pickiness about men, did little to encourage the opposite sex to see me as a fun, safe, dating prospect.

When I became a believer in my mid-twenties, dating took an even more serious tone. I learned things in church like ‘dating was just using each other’ or a means of ‘practicing for divorce.’ I learned ‘serious Christians’ should be courting, not dating.

The more I studied scripture, however, the more I saw that the bible has very little to say about dating. So for the Christian, is dating okay? What is the purpose of dating? Is dating just using other people? Is it okay to say yes to someone if you don’t think you have an interest in marriage with this person?

I found the best answers to these questions about dating in a book by Henry Cloud, entitled  How to Find a Date Worth Keeping. As a Christian psychologist, he identified and addressed the high-pressure view of dating I had developed over the years. Rather than see dating as a way to find a mate, Dr. Cloud suggested to see dating in the following ways:

  1. A time to find out about other people and what they are like.
  2. A time to find out about yourself and how you need to change.
  3. A time to have fun, experience new things, learn.
  4. Opportunities to love and serve others.

I encourage you to read his book. It changed my life.  For a briefer look at some of his thoughts, here is an article he wrote for Crosswalk.

When I changed my view of dating, not only did I get asked out more often, I had more fun in life. I experienced new people, places and things. Not every date was fabulous, but there was progress, and that felt good.

Most surprisingly, God helped me realize that my previous attitude about dating was more about self-protection, and little to do with loving others well or trusting God. By changing my view of dating, I found myself more open and accepting of others and thus better fulfilling Jesus’ command in Matthew 22:39 to “love your neighbor as a yourself.”

  • Questions to consider:  What is your view of dating? Is it biblical? Is it helping your dating life? Are you growing as a believer in Christ as a result of your dating view? Are you loving others well in the process of dating? Are you trusting God in the process? Where/how could God be trying to stretch you as you work through singleness?

Written by Kristine Newton Sung, Licensed Professional Counselor, Heritage Counseling & Consulting, Dallas, Texas.

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5 Tips to Meet More Men (Especially written for shy, non-flirtatous girls)

This is the third article in my series on 5 Christian Dating Myths. This addresses Myth #2: Any guy worth having is fearless, confident and will know exactly how to pursue you.

Women who long for a mature, stable Christian believer, are often led to believe in church that those kinds of guys are ‘fearless adventurers’ and ‘spiritual leaders’ who will therefore know exactly how to pursue you for dating. But is it possible that even mature, stable, great Christian men are not completely fearless when it comes to romance? Is it possible that they, like most other human beings on this earth, shy away from rejection?

Through my journey, I began to realize that a little bit of encouragement can go a long way in increasing a guys desire and confidence about pursuing me. Not encouragement in a condescending, mommy/teacher kind of way. More so encouragement that you are actually interested in them, and that you are a safe and interesting person to approach.

You see, my passive, shy, patient demeanor was sending the message to potential suitors that I would be hard to talk to, that I wasn’t interested, or there was a high potential for failure, all of which was far from the truth. Who wants to talk to someone who isn’t interested?

How accessible and safe are you to guys? Are you approachable?

For a non-flirtatious gal like myself, here are some things that you can work to make yourself more approachable and meet more men:

  • Let men open doors. I had a friend who I noticed would stand to the side of a door and let men open the door for her. It signaled to men that she wanted and appreciated it when they were gentleman. Learn to let men do this for you, and make a point to show them you want it.
  • Make Eye Contact. Rather than nervously looking away when a guy catches you looking at him, keep eye contact for at least ten seconds. This demonstrates that you notice them, that you are confident, and perhaps interested in a conversation. (This was not easy for me, so to get better at making eye contact, I challenged myself to make eye contact with 10 guys a week. The more I did it, the easier it got.)
  • Smile. When you make eye contact, you often get warm friendly eyes looking back at you! Then, you can SMILE! Again, signaling that you are friendly and that you notice him. Not only does this make him feel good, you feel good too!
  • Start casual, light hearted conversation. It doesn’t have to be anything incredible. You can simply say “Thank you. I appreciate you being such a gentleman!” when he opens the door for you. Or just comment how happy you are to see the sun shine again if it is a nice day. Or how happy you are it is the weekend. Or, “Are you headed home? Happy to be done with the day?”
  • Build friendships with guys without any expectation of what might happen. Rather than overanalyze friendships, and what signals he or you might be sending, just develop friendships with guys. Don’t worry about whether you are attracted to them. If he asks you to do something one-on-one, don’t assume it is a date. Just go and have a good time.

Overall you are trying to plant seeds and show that you are a warm, friendly gal who might possibly bring improvement to his life if he took a risk and stepped towards you.

Though I am now married, I still practice these skills. Not to attract a man, but rather to be someone who actively acknowledges other people’s existence and tries to create opportunities for relationships. Isn’t that part of what it means to be a disciple-maker? It isn’t always easy, it takes risk, bit of discomfort and intentional effort. But the work is often rewarded by others and by the Lord!

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Christian Dating Myth #1

This is the second in my series about 5 Christian Dating Myths. Often Christian girls are told that there role in dating is simply to wait to be pursued. They are led to believe that there is nothing women can or should do to improve their dating life. Just have faith and wait on God’s timing. Whatever you do, “don’t chase boys!” Recently I read a church singles blog that went so far as to shame a girl for “taking matters into her own hands” simply because she wanted to tell a guy that she liked him.

In many ways there was a lot I and other single girls like about this myth: I have no responsibilities. I don’t have to take any risks. I just need to be myself and God will ensure someone will notice me. And being shy means that I am a ‘good’ Christian girl.

However, for me, as the years passed I wondered if this was true. Was it biblical to simply wait and pray? It seemed that in every other area of life God requires my active participation. Finding a job, making friends, doing ministry, going to seminary all required me to take some action. So why was dating any different? If I did something beyond praying and waiting, did that mean I was taking over for men and sinfully thwarting God’s design for marriage?

Looking to scripture, I saw, there are women who we admire, who take active roles particularly in the way they relate to men. Ruth is probably the best example. She perfumes herself, dresses up and then presents herself at Boaz’s feet after he climbs into bed. That seems a lot bolder than telling a guy that you like him! And scripture applauds her, it does not condemn her.

There are times when God calls us to patiently wait on his timing. But perhaps like Ruth, God wants you to take some action. This is not unspiritual. In fact, it may require greater faith in God for you to take a risk, be vulnerable and perhaps learn some new skills that will help you better relate to those around you. Perhaps instead of telling women to simply wait and pray, we need to be teaching women how to be open, friendly and available so that men are more encouraged to step out and ask girls out?

For myself, I fell for this myth hook line and sinker, for two reasons. One I was shy with guys and stepping out was uncomfortable and scary. So I loved the idea that I would just have to be myself and someone would notice me. I believed God loved me and would simply give me the desires of my heart.

Secondly, I was fearful of becoming a woman who controlled her spouse. I thought by waiting for this courageous pursuer the church kept talking about, I would get a guy strong enough to fix my tendency to control. Along the way, God graciously reminded me that my hope for a great marriage was not in finding the perfect guy to counter balance my sinful tendency. My hope is in Christ who loves me despite my sin, and who promises to day-by-day make me more like himself as I walk with Him daily. It is through him that I find the greatest hope for a happy and blessed marriage, not by following a man-made dating prescription.

How about you? Are you falling for this myth? What would it mean for you to become more active in your dating life?

5 Myths I Believed About Dating

I see so many great, smart, cool, fun women who are not getting asked out. I was one of them for many years.

So what’s the deal? Why are great women often overlooked? Certainly, we hear how men need to step up and initiate more dating. That is great!  But is there anything that women can do to have an impact on their dating lives? Often we are told: “Be patient, pray and wait.”, “Don’t chase boys” or “The guy needs to take the lead!” Is that it? Is spending years on the sidelines waiting patiently the spiritual exercise God intends for women who are not getting asked out?

Could it be there are myths women learn at church that lead to non-existent dating lives? Could these myths be encouraging anger and discouragement with men and God rather than encouraging spiritual growth, self-examination and personal responsibility? I believe so, and I’d like to suggest there are at least five myths that I believed which hindered my dating life for years:

Myth #1: There is nothing you can or should do to improve your life. (Just have faith and wait on God’s timing.)

Myth #2: Any guy worth having is confident and will know exactly how to pursue you. (Guys don’t need any encouragement from me.)

Myth #3: Dating is about marriage. (I should only say yes if I suspect there is potential down the road.)

Myth #4: All guys want is sex. (It’s not possible to date without it leading to sex before marriage.)

Myth #5: There are no good guys out there OR There must be something wrong with me.

In the days that follow, I will explain how I came to believe these myths, how they impacted my dating life and how God challenged and changed those beliefs. What I’d like to suggest is that there is more hope for women than to simply “Be patient, pray and wait for a guy to pursue them.” And that God desires more than you spending years on the sidelines waiting patiently.

The result has been a deeper relationship with God and a better understanding and belief in His truth, as well as finding and marrying my best friend. As a small group leader and a Licensed Professional Counselor, I have seen these ideas help not only myself but also other girls who have gone from never getting asked out on a date, to dating and for some engagement and marriage.