Let’s Talk About Dating – Part 5
Dating Matters: Staying Strong
Alright, enough about sex already! Right? We have spent a lot of time talking about sex as one would expect when talking about dating. It would be a mistake not to. However, it would be just as big of a mistake if we were to make dating advice solely about sex. Students want and need quality dating advice which extends beyond “stay pure.” Let’s dive in.
Have Healthy Expectations
One of the reasons students have negative dating experiences is because many students go into a relationship with unrealistic expectations. They need to know exactly what they are getting. When a guy or girl enters a dating relationship he/she is not getting a soulmate, a life partner, or a god. Your boyfriend or girlfriend cannot always be there for you, know your innermost thoughts, solve all of your problems, or love you sacrificially all the time. Those traits are only found in one person: Jesus Christ. How often are we guilty of holding our significant other to God-like expectations and standards?
Even in the best romantic relationships a person will at times feel lonely, sad, hurt, and misunderstood. There will be fights. A boyfriend/girlfriend is not a cure-all for anything. I always tell students that whatever problems you had before the relationship will not be solved by the relationship.
On the notion that this dating relationship will “last forever,” it is important to communicate that less than 1% of high school dating relationships result in marriage. And for those students who believe they are in the 1% (they always think they are), over 70% of those relationships end in divorce.
This doesn’t mean that dating is all bad. There are some good things to expect. A boyfriend/girlfriend can bring you companionship. They can be someone to talk to when things are going bad or good. They can be a close friend and someone who cares about you. These are all examples of healthy expectations.
Advice for Girls
This comes from a series we recently did at our youth ministry. This section was compiled by females.
- Let your guy be a guy
Guys process information different. Don’t try to change them. God designed all guys this way for a reason. Also, let him hang with his guy friends without constantly interrupting him with texts. You are doing your boyfriend a MAJOR disservice if he has to keep answering your texts. That is a wonderful way to get his friends to not like you.
- Don’t expect super sweet gestures all the time
Life is not a fairytale or girly novel. Guys are not going to “sweep you off your feet” everyday. Guys show that they are invested in different ways.
- Don’t freak out over one word text responses
Studies have shown that girls send over 10x more texts than guys do. Do not expect guys to be like girls…they are not.
- Remember, he does’t read non-verbal communication
This is a girl skill that guys have not yet mastered in adolescence. Quit reading between the lines and don’t expect him to.
- Be his “cheerleader”
Guys need encouragement and positive reinforcement. They also derive a lot of self-worth from what they do so complimenting a guy after a sports game, concert, etc. really goes a long ways towards making him feel special.
- Sometimes let him “be”
When a guy is experiencing something tough such as pain, disappointment, or fear they sometimes just need a little space to process. Girls want to jump in and respond emotively. Sometimes what he needs is a time of silence to process and collect his thoughts.
Advice for Guys
This also comes from our recent series and was complied by guys.
- Be affectionate
I don’t mean this in just a physical way (see the last two posts). Girls need to feel like they are special, appreciated, cared for. It’s not always comfortable for guys, but do it anyway.
- Be nice to her
This might seem obvious, but guys can be pretty rough on their guy friends. Sometimes we can take this into our dating relationships. BAD IDEA. Treat a girl like a girl, not as a gentle, fragile being, but as a lady should be treated.
- Don’t be afraid to show emotion
Being emotional in front of guys can be a bad thing (so says society). Being emotional in front of your girlfriend is a bonus (not in a manipulative way, mind you).
- Don’t ignore herr
This is especially true if your friends are around. For some reason, girlfriends can become invisible when the “bros” are around. Bad move. Your girlfriend takes note of this.
- Do a lot of listening
Girls need someone to listen to them. This is especially true during the “processing” stage. Girls tend to respond more emotively while guys jump into problem solving mode. We may think we are helping, but often what is really needed is someone to simply listen.
Advice for Both
Though both of these previous sections have some crossover, the following is a few things that are important for both the guy and girl to remember.
- Protect your other friendships
Remember that whole 1% statistic? That definitely applies here because odds are your dating relationship will end at some point and you will once again need those friends. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a couple stricken with intense infatuation with each other abandon their other friendships. This is really, really unwise and unhealthy. This isn’t just because of the eventual breakup. We all need friendships and to drop those every time a new special someone comes along makes you a bad friend. It’s that simple. Yes, you’re time will be somewhat split, but respect your boyfriend/girlfriend’s time and allow them to maintain their other friendships.
- Respect your girlfriend/boyfriend’s parents
Always, always, always treat his/her parents with respect. The parents will respect you and so will your partner. Also, pay attention to how they treat their parents. How they treat their parents is a pretty decent indicator of you will be treated.
- Never date someone who does not share your values
Plenty of studies show that the “lowest” set of values will become the values for the relationship. Relationships rarely rise to the “highest” set. Communicate your values with each other early and often.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of dating tips. However, it is a decent starting point. At the end of this post I have included another PDF that has some more bullet-point tips on teaching healthy dating habits. I’d love to hear from you guys in the comments section about things I have missed. Tomorrow’s post will deal directly with how to break-up in a God-honoring way.
Questions? Comments? Do you agree with my advice? What am I missing?