Eight Personal Priorities When Dating
Dating looks a bit different in 2023 then it did in 2013 or 1913. Dating in the biblical days was also radically different from today’s dating scene. How so? Well, for one, dating didn’t exist!
Christians often want to know what the Bible says about dating. The truth is that it doesn’t explicitly talk about dating.
Relevant Magazine explains, “Not only is there nothing in the Bible specifically about dating, but the concept of dating didn’t even exist in biblical times. Even today in many areas of the Middle East, dating is a relatively new concept, and couples can’t even be seen together in public unless they are officially ‘engaged’ to be married. In biblical times, the process of meeting a spouse had very little to do with compatibility and personality traits, and everything to do with family lineage and economic status. Finding a mate functioned a lot more like a bartering system than dinner and a movie.”
This can be a little bit frustrating for single Christians trying to find a partner. They want to date in a way that honors God, but this idea is vastly different from today’s dating culture.
While most believers already know looking for a one-night stand isn’t the healthiest or wisest choice for finding a spouse, Christians are still unsure about how to navigate today’s modern dating scene.
We tend to prioritize the wrong things when it comes to dating, which is where it starts to go wrong. Part of the problem is that we start outside of ourselves when our biggest concern should be our own hearts.
Here are 8 personal priorities Christians should have while they are in the dating scene.
1. Put God First
The first priority should always be your relationship with God. In every relationship in your life, you need to put God first.
According to Desiring God, “The first rule in dating is the first rule in all of life: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). You will not truly love anyone else if you do not love God first and most. And no one will truly love you if they do not love God more than they love you.”
Too often, when looking for someone to date, we lose sight of our first love.
2. Strive for Christlikeness
When dating, people tend to focus on the characteristics they like in someone else. In actuality, we should be focusing on our personal character first, ensuring that we are growing more and more like Jesus.
Pastor Martin Hawley wrote, “Is it possible to find the right person without first becoming the right person? After many years of counseling, I don’t think so. The best hope of success in a happily-ever-after marriage relationship is to become the right person before you seek the right person.”
Instead of focusing your attention on finding someone with all the desirable traits, work on making yourself into someone to be desired. As the saying goes, “Be the person that the person you’re looking for is looking for.”
3. Identify Your Why
Many people date simply for the sake of dating. They don’t have any real purpose, which is likely why there is a rise in hookup apps.
Instead, it is important to identify your why. Why are you looking for someone to date? Are you lonely? Do you need companionship? Are you feeling pressured to date? Do you want a family?
For Christians, the purpose of dating is to find the person God has for us, so we can live a life serving Him together.
Continue checking in with yourself and asking “why” throughout your dating journey. Why do you want to date this person? If you’re already dating, ask why you should continue dating this person?
When the answer isn’t clear, pray for wisdom and discernment.
4. Set Personal Boundaries
Your mind, body, and heart need to be a priority. This means setting up clear boundaries.
More than having them decided in your mind, be sure that they are clearly communicated between you and whoever you’re with. Communicating these boundaries at the front end of your dating journey will usually clear out anyone who has different intentions.
This is especially the case as far as it relates to physical boundaries.
Relevant Magazine shares, “All over Scripture, we are reminded of the value of a physical relationship within the context of a committed marriage and the risks of intimacy outside of marriage (Hebrews 13:4, Song of Solomon 8:4). Dating well means we make sure to honor and respect this portion of our future marriage by setting physical limits and boundaries when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex.”
I know the “purity culture” of the Church in the 90’s has gotten a bad rap lately. That said, in a culture fueled by hookups with people inside and outside of the Christian faith, it’s important that you set up boundaries to protect both yourself and your future spouse.
5. Value Other Types of Relationships
When you start dating someone you like, it may be tempting to let other relationships drift away. Don’t let them! Prioritize your relationships with others. We need other relationships in our lives with family, friends, and fellow believers.
Furthermore, having people in your life who love you is a great way to have accountability as you are in the dating scene. I love the way Desiring God puts it. “The truth is that we all need a third wheel — in life and in dating — people who truly know us and love us, and who want what’s best for us, even when it’s not what we want in the moment.”
6. Seek Wisdom
Dating isn’t easy. Any time you are dealing with relationships of any sort, it can get complicated. This is because people are complicated.
All that goes to say, you need wisdom to navigate different issues that come up as you are dating. Pray for wisdom and seek wisdom from godly mentors.
7. Let Go of the Ideal
Singles tend to prioritize perfection.
The problem is no one is perfect. Christians should know that better than anyone.
We are all sinners. If we are looking for a perfect person to date, we won’t find it.
Instead, we should look for someone who shares our hope in Jesus and wants to serve alongside us. This doesn’t mean to “settle,” but it does mean to recognize your own sinfulness as well as your potential spouse’s.
Always be sure to give grace as needed.
8. Trust God
It is easy to give in to the world’s voice which loudly shouts, “Marriage is the end goal! Marriage will make you complete!” Neither of those statements are true.
But that doesn’t mean your times of singleness will always feel easy – especially when you enter the dating scene.
Salt & Light explains, “The Bible doesn’t dictate what method to use in our search for a life partner, but it does exhort us to surrender our desires and plans to Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). We can trust that He will guide our search, whether online or off.”
As you date, trust God to lead and guide you, and believe that He has the best intentions for your heart.