I was privileged to belong to a good singles group at Bayside Church-Granite Bay for a few years. We met on a campuse located in a glitzy, vibrant and friendly suburb of Sacramento. It’s about an hour from San Francisco if you keep your foot hard on the gas. We explored the topic of healthy dating and relationships a lot. Many singles married out of that big, and the most actively serving, group in the Church. Singles ministry is highly marginalized and under-rated by the greater Church. The guidelines below are not from that group. They are from City Church in San Francisco. Another pioneering Church I belonged to for a season. Ha!
Today a lot of relationships are all about ownership and control. Years ago one could get to know girls or guys and have fun doing it. People were more natural, real and vulnerable. There was more honest communication without manipulation.
I invite you to consider these guidelines. Try them on in your relationships before you judge them. They’re designed to protect us, not restrict us, in the long run.
1. If you are a woman who generally pursues men first , stop and allow men to pursue you. If you are a man who waits for women to ask you out, take the first step and ask them out instead. A woman pursuing a man sets up an uncomfortable power dynamic that is difficult to change later.
2. Stay away from verbal foreplay early on in the relationship. Engage in sexual-type talk only after you know each other well, at least a few months into the relationship. These types of conversations can become the central focus of your interactions, making it harder to experience other parts of your relationship.
3. Don’t have a sexual relationship until you are committed to and love each other. Some take this a step further and say until you are married. Having sex with someone you are not married to can make you open to extreme vulnerabilities, physical and emotional abuse. This may seem old fashioned; however, relationships are partnerships. Although sexuality is a part of a relationship, it is not a good for foundation on which to build a relationship. If you build your relationship on sex, it will most likely fall like a house of cards.
4. Limit your time together in the beginning. See or be on the phone with each other in moderation. How is a house built? Brick by brick. How have you developed friendships? Over time. Does an intimate relationship deserve any less?
5. Spend more time courting in person rather than by email or phone. Electronic communication has an aspect of anonymity and safety. It allows for a false sense of closeness. If this is your primary mode of communication, you may feel awkward with each other in person.
6. Be yourself at all times in the dating process. Doing so allows both of you to clearly see if the relationship will work. If you are compatible, you will discover more things to like about each other. If you are not compatible, you will be able to find out sooner rather than later.
7. Be clear from the start about how you want and don’t want to be treated. It’s better to know how your new partner responds or doesn’t respond to your boundaries and standards.
8. Be aware of who your new partner is. At the same time, don’t automatically assume he will disappoint you in the same ways you’ve been disappointed before. Give him a chance to treat you well rather than testing to see if he will cause you pain.
9. Accept your new partner as she/he is or don’t engage in the relationship. If the behavior bothers you but doesn’t bother her/him you can be sure that this behavior will continue. Accept how your new partner is now, rather than hoping for change , or get out.
10. Enjoy. Have fun. Connect. Learn. Dating is wonderful! It’s a chance to meet new and interesting people and do fun activities. It’s an opportunity for growth. If you do it gently, without jeopardizing your emotional well-being, it will add sparkle not sinister ism to your life 🙂