Part 1. Introduction to Navigating The Christian Dating Culture

In 2014 I was in my last year of Bible college. I was 26 years of age and prayed routinely, once a day, for a husband.

I read books like "Get Married" by Candice Watters, joined prayer-warrior groups of godly women who fasted for spouses. I also got Internet-acquainted with Matthew Hussey, a UK dating coach, whose general advice was user-tested on the one guy I was determined to marry. I thought I was ageing so rapidly, there would be no godly men remaining; I was terrified of reaching 30 without an engagement ring.

You could say I was fixated, obsessed, too outcomes focused, or to use that horribly judgmental word Pharisee-spirited Christians use: 

desperate

I was desperate. So desperate in fact, that I started losing respect for myself in the way I garnered attention from proposed potential husband. And while God taught me major self-worth and identity lessons that year, I was also not helped by the infinite number of married couples around me.

Sorry, married couples! Have a little more empathy... please :)

Sorry, married couples! Have a little more empathy... please :)

Their well-meaning yet condescending advice consisted of "if you have a longing, go to God to fill it" or "you just need to trust and depend on God" or "it's when you're not looking that you'll find someone".

Reflecting on that season of my life, while all motifs were true, I wish they would have had a little more empathy. My pregnant, happily married best friend once soothed: "Of course you have a desire for marriage, if I was single now I would too." 

It was her acknowledgement of having found her partner serendipitously, and not because there was something I was lacking that led me to realise God's timing, and embark on this mystery-of-singleness-and-dating journey. 

So between 2015 and now, after having learned what I needed to, I have been pursued by over 20 different men, realised my standards were high and realistic, and am in a place of more choice than I ever realised. You could say that I am intentionally single, because I understand the process of meeting the right guy takes time.

My faith that God has someone for me has met with a life-changing, peaceful realisation:

It's all about using a sadly underestimated toolkit called social and romantic competency.

THE PROBLEM WITH CHRISTIAN DATING CULTURE

Gently, I want to point out the mish-mash of confusion that many Christian singles who sit in the same boat as me wonder:

  • Why can't we just go on coffee dates like secular dating culture?
  • Why do married couples receive an automatic qualification to advise singles on how to find a spouse?
  • Why are singles aged 26+ treated like there is something wrong with them?
  • Why is having a secular Dating Coach scandalous, unspiritual and signalling that I am "not trusting God" and "idolising marriage"?
  • Why are Christian men confused about how to get to know a girl they find attractive?
  • Further, why are Christian men fearful that she'll be planning their wedding day on a first date?
  • Why are Christian women frustrated that they are not being pursued, are determined not to chase a man, and therefore resolved to sit in their bedrooms and wait for a man to fall from the sky?
  • Why do so many singles over-spiritualise the process of meeting, dating and entering a relationship?
They're married, but it doesn't mean they were flawless.

They're married, but it doesn't mean they were flawless.

I want to address the married couples point:

Just because someone is married, it doesn't mean they're best to advise you on how to meet the love of your life. 

They might be able to advise you on how to communicate while in the relationship, and impart a philosophy on how to strengthen that commitment, but say they split up with their marriage partner...

After one soul-crushing break up, 2 years of restorative therapy, and a decision to "get back in the dating game", the real test is if they can now competently swim in the tide of unmarried hopefuls themselves.

Tide of unmarried hopefuls - how competently can we swim in it?

Tide of unmarried hopefuls - how competently can we swim in it?

So meeting and forming genuine connections with new people is a completely different ball game. It is a test to your individual social competency.

Romantic connection - is serendipitous. It is random, subject to the whims of life's unpredictability, and cannot be engineered at a factory or concocted in a science lab. Therefore, just because someone has the outcome (being married), that relationship status says nothing about the quality of their relationship with their spouse, nor the competency of their social skills and the process of how they came to be married.

BUT WHAT IF I DON'T CARE ABOUT HAVING GREAT SOCIAL COMPETENCY?

Then you have proven my point. [Read the above paragraph again].

Call it a decoy for 'Christlikeness'. I am inspired by people who are consumed with the calling of God on their lives, take calculated risks, possess strong work ethic, examine themselves through gruelling counselling sessions, and unafraid of challenge, struggle, and personal growth.

Strong socially intimate connections: a great crew is your best asset!

Strong socially intimate connections: a great crew is your best asset!

Singles of this calibre are surrounded by strong socially intimate connections, or are actively seeking this tribe. They rock a colourful life of purpose and direction, prioritising the pursuit of their authentic self while caring deeply for people in their community.

They ensure who they are inside is not compromised by the pressures of other people's expectations on the outside.

They:

  1. Know who they are
  2. Know what they want, and
  3. Know how best to express this authentically to the world.

Confident faith meets romantic competency

Confident faith meets romantic competency.

Confident faith meets romantic competency.

This multi-part series will elaborate on how to be a Socially Competent Christian Single who not only loves God, but is aware and unhindered by things that may hurt them socially.

Before we begin, I suggest you read my previous 3-part Relationship Series here and "A Note on Intimacy" if you have not already.

Understanding the context of these following tips is crucial. Applying them requires strong foundations of self-awareness and identity. Social competency without strong identity conviction is like hitting an empty can of aluminium - shiny front; no substance. 

So let's begin:

THE SOCIALLY COMPETENT CHRISTIAN SINGLE:

It starts with a Mindset shift

Mindset shift!

Mindset shift!

Think of your life as a continuum, and after the initial spikes of romance, the first date, the long-awaited wedding and honeymoon to the Maldives etcetera - marriage will just be the 151st boring Wednesday. 

Church cliches have taught us that when the romance fades, only the friendship will remain. But what they really mean is: can you simply hang out together? Is interaction easy and effortless? Do you laugh at the same jokes? Are you comfortable in your friendship? Is it fun doing nothing in silence? Do you trust each other? 

With this in mind, when we have our eye on a potential suitor, Christian Dating Culture prohibits any asking-out to happen, as that will result in murderous social suicide.

The Socially Competent Christian Single is not in a rush, but understands there's a process.

The Socially Competent Christian Single is not in a rush, but understands there's a process.

Instead, we enjoy a large group of friends of men and women we genuinely have a great time with. We conduct ourselves in a way that impresses us, ourselves, and we.

We continue on the trajectory of normal life, connections organically forming as a result of frequent social interactions and likeminded interests.

Dinner with girlfriends on Tuesday night, Bible Study Wednesday night, Friday night work drinks, Sunday church lunch and dinner, the occasional poetry slam, dance club or piano recital. Gym on Saturday.

We make other things (like God, purpose, people and passions) more important and exciting than being in a relationship.

Next weeK: 

Stay tuned for Part 2. Navigating Christian Dating Culture: Some practical applications.

The Christian Dating Culture is unlike any other. Faith-filled singles are trusting God in their bedrooms, passively waiting for Mr or Miss Right to fall out of the sky. 

After coaching many Christian singles TO become proactive about their love lives, I am formally announcing my services to equip you with a toolkit that will help you rock your single life, and marry your social competency with CONFIDENT faith.

READ MORE OF THE WEEKLY COMFORT BLOG:

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