If you’ve heard of the Christian book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which was published several decades ago, you may have chuckled at the title of this blog post. The essence of that book was this idea: don’t date around, become exclusive with the first person you seem compatible with and pursue marriage.
I believe many Christians have continued to be influenced by that idea. Many view dating as a tedious search to find the “right” spouse. So they jump into an exclusive relationship and put the pedal to the metal full force, quickly getting married. They don’t take the time to go on dates with different types of people. For some, it’s the fear of being perceived as a “player.” But some have gotten the idea, as the book suggests, that dating a lot of people isn’t biblical.
I held many of these views until last year. Then I tried a new approach.
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I Kissed Dating Hello
What did I do differently? I kissed casual dating hello.
I went on lots of dates. I committed to getting out there for a season, getting to know different kinds of women. I committed to enjoying the process, and to not looking for something serious for a season. I was totally up front with my dates about this journey. And I made sure that I had male friends to hold me accountable, and to help me process my experiences and learning.
One reason I began this journey was because up until this point in my life, I hadn’t dated much (besides that year in seventh grade when I had eight different “girlfriends,” although not at the same time!). Sure, I had been in a couple of serious relationships since then. But I never took the time to ask myself critical questions. Questions like, “Based on who God has made me, what might I need in a significant other?” and “How might I be attracted or not attracted to specific characteristics in others, in reaction to the hurts and unmet needs of my past?”
Throughout my dating last year, I also asked:
- “What do I find attractive about this woman? Is it healthy or unhealthy?”
- “Am I attracted to her because she has something I lack?”
- “Am I attracted to her because she reminds me of someone from my past, and I am somehow hoping to have a different outcome?”
- Am I not attracted because she reminds me of someone who has hurt me in the past?”
Broken Dating Picker?
Often, our attraction to others is not rooted in who we are, but deeply woven into the unresolved areas of our story.
For years, I found myself attracted to women who were more adaptable, passive, and quiet. This developed in reaction to my having been walked over by authority figures, and being hurt by women who were rigid. Out of self-protection, I attempted to avoid future hurt by going after women who weren’t dominant. My unhealthy attraction became the basis to determine if I dated someone or not — until I began to recognize this pattern. Only then did I learn to hold my own on dates with strong women, and to enjoy how God had created them.
In short, we tend to date from and in reaction to our emotional wounds in life. Until we do the hard work of addressing these unresolved areas of our life, we will continue to reenact them, hoping for a different outcome.
Going on many dates with women I normally would have stayed away from stretched me, grew me, and challenged me. I learned to relax and be present. I learned to focus much more on others, rather than questioning if they met the criteria I held as crucial for a future spouse. I became a lot more open to who I could consider being with.
As I went on dates last year, what I was attracted to began to expand as I saw the glory of God displayed in many types of women. I grew an appreciation and attraction for different personalities, physical characteristics, and values. It was so healing.
Dating provides us with an opportunity to understand why we are and aren’t attracted to certain people. To learn if we are instinctively choosing the wrong people for ourselves. Perhaps you’ve thought, “I’m not attracted to anyone that I also enjoy spending time with,” or “Things never work out.” Perhaps at this very minute you’re thinking, “God just hasn’t brought me the right person yet.” Hmmm….unless you’re hoping to marry the mailman or the person who delivers your Uber eats, you might want to rethink that expectation.
Of course, God could deliver “the one” to your front door. But He typically asks us to play an active part in the process. So let me encourage you to get out there. Introduce yourself to people in public and at events. Sign up for a dating app. Learn to be open, go on dates, and enjoy the process. Learn why you are/aren’t attracted to others, so that you figure how to date healthy and whole.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic. Please share your comments below.
Helpful Dating Tips
- Get rid of your mental list of requirements in a significant other and be open to the idea that you may not know what you need.
- Go on dates with different kinds of people. Don’t limit yourself to a type.
- Be wise and hold to your convictions.
- If you’re attracted to certain types of people, traits, and characteristics, ask yourself why. Is it healthy or unhealthy?
- If you’re turned off by certain types of people, traits, and characteristics, ask yourself why. Could it be your own fear, insecurity, or unresolved hurts from the past?
- Don’t go on first dates to find a spouse. Go to have fun, and learn about yourself and others. Pay close attention to your reactions, feelings, fears, and attractions.
- Be slow to become exclusive with someone. It’s easy to get swept away by the thrill of a new relationship, rather than being appropriately cautious as you slowly get to know someone. When you decide to get exclusive, date with the intention of moving toward marriage.
- Don’t over-spiritualize God’s call on your dating relationships. God’s will for you in dating and marriage remains the same as the rest of your life: ”For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3
- For more on this topic, check out my dating article on the Pure Desire Ministries website.
- Other helpful articles on the Josh McDowell Ministry site: “Love Is…,” “Everyone Loves Sex, So Why Wait,” and “Porn, Sexual Assault & Changing a Culture of #MeToo“
- The book Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend is an excellent resource.
- This Q&A session with Priscilla Shirer (“What Men Wished Women Knew”) is very informative!