1.) Be legit.
If you want to find and date someone who has an authentic relationship with Jesus, you need to have an authentic relationship with Jesus. If you want to date someone who reads Scripture daily, is involved in a local church, and gives of their time and resources sacrificially, you need to be doing those things as well. And you need to be doing them because that’s who you are, not just to garner the attention of someone else.
This truth can also be applied to every area of your life…how you shop, where you eat, who you hang out with, and your general likes and dislikes. Far too often, single people try and be someone they’re not.
Even if you end up marrying that person you’ll both be unhappy in the long run once the truth about both of you surfaces.
2.) Make a list of what you want in a spouse.
Some people mistakenly think what they’re looking for in a spouse has little to do with what they’re looking for in a person to date. You should never date someone you know you could never marry.
Make the list realistic. Things like specific hair color and hobbies should not make the cut but you also need to make the list challenging. Things like hard work ethic and compassionate should make the list. Set the bar high because someone out there might be setting theirs high as well. Maybe they are currently telling others no because they’re really waiting for someone like you to come along!
3.) Make a list of what you commit to be as a spouse.
This list is much less common but easily more important. Regardless of your age and stage in life, who is it that you are willing to commit to be in a future marriage? Look for people to date who compliment and challenge this list as well.
This list should be at least twice as long as the list of what you want.
4.) Remember your true identity.
Jerry Maguire is a liar. Nobody completes you but Jesus. It’s true, You May Never Get Married. If that never happens [again] for you, is Jesus still enough? The “abundant life” Jesus promises to give to his followers is not exclusively offered to married people! (John 10:10)
So don’t buy into the lie that without a spouse you are somehow a second class citizen, damaged goods, or less loved by God.
5.) Don’t ditch your friends.
Don’t be the one who dates someone and 3 months into their new relationship they’ve all but cut themselves off from their genuine, long-standing friends. Now obviously these friendships change as a relationship moves closer to marriage, as it should. But date in a way that when you break up (has it ever ended any other way?) you’ll still have your friends at your side.
A word for opposite sex friends: As you get closer and close to marriage, a man’s best friend other than his [soon-to-be] wife needs to be a man and a woman’s best friend other than her [soon-to-be] husband needs to be a woman.
6.) Set specific physical boundaries…and don’t break them!
This is a BIG deal. Mistakes happen. But there’s a LOT you can do to prevent yourself from making a bad decision you will regret later.
A note to divorced people: Even though you were previously married, you still need these. You can’t expect your teenage children to follow guidelines you’re not willing to adhere to as well.
This is ultimately a respect issue. Do you respect the person you’re dating enough to honor and protect them from sin? Could you give them away at their wedding day to someone else with no regrets?
Don’t wait to do this! You will never set them in the moment. If people are making fun of your boundaries, it’s probably because you’re on the right track.
When Hayley and I were dating in college, until the day we were married, these were our physical boundaries. We weren’t perfect at them, but we were very successful at maintaining them. These helped our marriage get off to a great start. These are what worked for us but they might be a good starting point for you:
- Never lay down together. Not for a nap. Not just to kiss. Not just one time. Keep it vertical, friends!
- Never stay the night.
- Never touch an area that is covered by an undergarment.
- Never be alone in an apartment/house together. What do you need to do in private together that you can’t do at a coffee shop, in a park, with friends, or at a restaurant?
- SHARE your boundaries with a very small group (2-3) of older people you trust and ask them to hold you accountable.
One of the best things that happened to me during this time of our life was a good friend of mine asked me to text him every night when I was on my way home from hanging out with Hayley. I texted him up until the day we married and I will always be thankful for him. Accountability is not a bad word and nobody is too good for it!