Many of our clients are struggling with relationships. Actually, all of us at some point struggle with relationships, particularly romantic ones. Our humanity depends on the need for human connection, but regardless, women are struggling to find themselves in committed, healthy relationships. Divorce is high, so people gave up on marriage. Now the rate for just living together without promises of commitment is even higher than divorce. And the reports of discontent among unmarried women in these relationships are higher than ever before.
Girls feel cheated and rejected because their relationships are confusing, without guidelines or security. Women give men the best years of their lives, even birth their children, but don’t even get a ring in return. Commitment is too much to ask for.
Many of us start in the wrong place when we become romantically attracted to someone. The Bible tells us that our faith is founded on a relationship with God. He is our mentor, our guide, our love, our friend, our savior, our most important relationship. Obviously God loves us, so He gave us rules about relationships, too. Before we consider moving in with a guy, we should see what God (our dad and friend) wants us to do first.
You might be thinking that “rules” to guide love doesn’t sound right. After all, Disney has told us for years that love is a total feeling, “a matter of the heart.” Our society thinks that rules “constrict us” and confine us” from being our “true-self.” You probably heard the line that “rules were made to be broken.”
But when it comes to choosing your soulmate (the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, be vulnerable with, and make memories with) you need a lot more than hormones and a fluttering heart to make that choice.
We have put together some Biblically inspired rules/boundaries that will help you navigate the complex world of romantic relationships. Don't worry. You will have more help in the dating arena than a fluttering heart organ. 😊
God’s rules are blueprints for owning a piece of the Garden of Eden. Life isn’t going to be perfect, but we can attain something pretty close to it when we follow the design God gave us to cope with an out of control world.
Rules are not negative restraints--rules are love letters that lead us to freedom.
1. Don’t Fall In Love With Potential.
Potential is when someone has everything they need to be successful or good but chooses not to act upon it. Potential is not reality. It is a dream of what you wish them to be. And it's easy to fall in love with the future-dream than the guy in front of us.
This is a hard one. But we have to be careful of a person who has the “potential ability” to do good and to do right but chooses not to do it. If the person you are attracted to never acts on their potential, you will forever be parenting them. That is an unequal union and God wants equality.
2. Believe Red Flags.
Have you ever met someone for the first time and had a weird vibe about them? That is called a red flag. It’s your body’s subconscious waving a warning at you that something about that person might signal danger or untrustworthiness.
Often, we brush those little feelings away because we want to be gracious and kind. While we always advocate politeness, don’t ignore warning signs when you are considering entering a vulnerable relationship with someone.
Women traditionally have been associated with what is called the “sixth sense.” It is also called “female intuition.” Maybe women have this instinct because we are in charge of protecting our babies. But it also comes in handy when dating.
I knew a man once who would ask me personal questions that made me uneasy. They weren’t wrong questions to ask, but for some reason, I felt icky about him. Later, I found out he was stalking me. Thankfully, I acted on my “gut” instinct and listened, preventing myself from getting into a dangerous situation.
ProTip: if someone you experience red flags with is wanting to be in a relationship with you say, “I appreciate the offer, but I need some time to process my feelings.”
3. Know Your Worth
Why is this important?
Because unless we know who we are to God and before God and through God, you will abuse yourself and allow others to do so as well.
You are made in the IMAGE OF GOD. Wow. Your form reflects the beautiful side of God. Your ability to give life reflects God’s power in giving humanity life. Your unique biology, your spirit, your skills, and gifts--they all come from God and are part of His image manifested in a human woman.
God is not like any other person you have ever known. The world objectifies women, Satan hates us, men are still sexist and abusive. But only God could look at a woman and say, YOU are in the image of the God of the Universe. YOU are my daughter, my princess. YOU are worthy because I love you and I give you value. I proved that by dying for YOU. (If you want to know more about personal value, click here.)
A real man knows that God loves you and values you, and he should try to do the same. Likewise, when a woman understands that God has given her worth and love, she has no need to find those things in a man. That is your power.
If you want a healthy relationship, you must know your worth because it will define the way you allow others to treat you. This is why when someone wants you to “move in with them” or sleep with them outside of a marriage relationship, it is wrong. You are too valuable to give yourself to someone who won’t commit to you.
ProTip: know your worth by not allowing any man to touch your body before marriage. Instead of sex, focus on your relationship. Ask questions about each other and foster deep conversations and friendships.
4. Don’t Lower Your Standards
If you want respect, you need to set standards that protect you and then stick by them.
Standards can be things like saying no to sex before marriage. A standard is only dating men who agree with you on important issues like religion and politics. A standard is focusing on friendships before romances. A standard is not going to wild parties or clubs where you are vulnerable.
Making your standards clear to others does not make you rude or bossy. In fact, science shows that when you are confident, people actually like you and respect you more. If a person can’t respect the standard by which you live, they have failed the test to be in your life. It’s that simple.
A man (or woman) who respects you will protect your standards above everything else, even above their own desires.
This rule is not about keeping you from having fun. In fact, it's about delayed gratification. There is nothing more fun than experiencing love, faithfulness, gentleness, memories, and a life together decade after decade.
5. Believe Patterns Not Words
Words mean nothing without patterns to prove them. If he says he will show up on time and yet consistently shows up late. That is a pattern. Not all patterns and words are a big deal. Maybe he just needs a watch with a timer. But if his patterns are, “I’m going to stop drinking,” but he doesn’t, this is a reason for caution and serious reflection. Someone who is not honest with themselves is not going to be honest with you.
We see abused women who tell us their husbands, “said he would stop hitting me.” But in a few weeks, the same women are back again reporting abuse. Patterns can be very serious, and once you are part of that person’s life, the patterns will affect you, too. It's not always abuse. Sometimes it's addictions or weight loss or spending sprees. But it does matter.
Patterns and words always matter, especially if they don't match!
ProTip: Become his friend before you become his lover. Once you have sex and become vulnerable with him, you now have a connection, making it much more difficult to break away once you notice bad behavior.
If you have been through a divorce or if you are struggling with dating, we hope this post helps you recognize areas where you can improve for next time! You always have hope for healing and a bright future, and the best place to start looking for those promises and practical life skills is the books of Proverbs and Psalms. The Bible is full of relationship advice and these two books are a great place to start as you begin your journey of self-respect, healing, and peace!