Common problems I have observed or complaints I have heard from people at The Porch who are in dating relationships:
People have no self-control
Why would they? It doesn’t seem to be needed anymore, or at least not required by the way that the world dates.
But you will make it a requirement, if you are wise. Is the person you are dating a believer? Are they allowing The Spirit to work in their life? Because self-control is specifically named as a fruit (or evidence) of The Spirit, while things like sexual immorality and impurity are listed as “obvious” acts of the sinful nature (see Galatians 5:16-26).
Wanting to have sex with someone of the opposite sex is a good thing; God wired you that way. Having sex with someone you are not married to, however, is a bad thing. The solution to these competing interests is self-control. But it is something that you learn long before the date. You learn self-control any time you want something that you shouldn’t have, whether it be a purse, a drink, or an image on the internet.
You will need self-control to have a healthy marriage. Getcha some.
Are you committed to purity? Are they? It requires a commitment from both parties.
To compromise purity is to invite problems into your relationship. I have never seen an exception to this rule. I have officiated many weddings, but I have never met the newlywed couple who regretted having boundaries when they dated, or who wished they had gone further physically before the wedding night. Many times, however, I have processed the problems that occurred in relationships and marriages from not having these boundaries when dating.
Remember that God is not trying to rip you off, and His goal is not to spoil your fun. He calls you to purity because it is the best thing for you; the enemy tries to convince you otherwise because he is seeking to destroy you. You know it is true. Don’t be destroyed.
Early emotional exchange
This is the “me too, me too, me too” conversation that gets our hearts all twisted up the first time we talk for 17 hours on the phone. Do not back up the emotional dump truck and pull the lever. Don’t name your future kids together in month one, and save the “I love you” until you can commit to loving them. Guard your heart and their heart.
Learn to be a little more strategic in your divulging of secrets. As in, 1) don’t have secrets, and 2) don’t tell every personal detail of your life and emotions on the first date. Time is your friend.
Trusting a promise over performance
This is a big one. Actions speak way louder than words. A person’s reputation goes before them, and you should take advantage of this early warning system.
This will save you a lot of grief. Remember the guy that moved to your high school and had all of these crazy stories about his past life that no one could verify? That’s because he was lying. It is easy to get away with lies when no one cares to verify your story. So, consider their dating history. Yes, people do change, and God restores. However, the cheat says, “I’ve changed, I promise. Trust me.” The trustworthy guy says, “Don’t trust me. Watch me. Over time, I will prove it.”
Reputations are important. Yes, there is grace and forgiveness. However, like I said before, time is your friend. Don’t decide if someone is worthy of your attention based on a promise; decide based on someone’s past performance and your own observations of them as you serve together.
Trusting feelings over community
When you begin to have feelings about someone, it is like putting a magnet by a compass. The compass doesn’t work and points in the wrong direction and everything is compromised.
That is why you have to pick your head up and ask others if you are going the right direction. Just because something feels right does not at all guarantee that it is right (see Proverbs 14:12). If everyone in your life is jumping up and down and shouting “You are going the wrong way!!!!” …it is only because you are. Stop, and turn around. Your feelings can’t be trusted when others who love you and are yielded to the Holy Spirit, are telling you that you are being an idiot. Listen to them.
In the end, it is not about rules or a list of tips and tricks. It really all comes down to trusting God and believing what He says. A spouse will not truly “complete” you, and marriage is not the be-all, end-all—but God is. And He wants you to have a full life (John 10:10); He offers to give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4); and He is fully capable of having all things work out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Seek God first, listen to the wisdom in His Word, and give His way a try.