I started dating when I was in the last semester of high school. I’ve only dated one guy and I’ve been with him now for just over two and a half years. Since I was pretty naïve when we started dating, I’ve learned a lot about relationships in the last couple years. This isn’t going to be a list of things I completely messed up on, though I have certainly made a lot of mistakes. Rather, these are things that I was surprised to find and thought I was the only one dealing with these issues. I thought I’d take the time to discuss some of the things I wish someone had told me before I started dating.
Christian girls have to deal with temptation too.
Chances are that if you really like a guy, you’re attracted to him, whether that’s physically or not. When I started dating William, I had this preconceived notion that since I was a Christian, I would be kind of “protected” from any temptation. We were a Christian couple focused on Jesus, so temptation wouldn’t touch us.
I think that Satan will try even harder to tempt Christians—especially young ones who have lots of hormones. He tempted Jesus, too (Luke 4:1 – 13). Everyone is different, but don’t think that just because you’re both Christians you will be sheltered from temptations. Be prepared that you will face temptation, and be armed with prayer.
Your boyfriend is not your emotional outlet.
So many girls use their boyfriend as their emotional vent. It’s okay to relieve some stress and talk about your day, but sometimes we go overboard. Instead of sharing the facts and directly explaining how we feel, we end up inflating the story as we go along to the point where we’re just “venting”.
Ladies, your man wants to support you. Guys know girls are emotional and they want to help. They’re fixers. But at some point, they shut down. If we are just a landslide of feelings, they can’t understand it all. They aren’t wired the same as us and they can’t sort through all those emotions the same way we can. It’s how God made them. It’s good to talk to our men about how we’re feeling about different things, but we need to do it in guy language. We need to filter it down a bit to be straightforward—share the facts and then how you felt. Guys are great, but save the venting for your girlfriends.
Sexual purity gets harder, not easier.
Real talk here. This was—and is—a huge one for me. It’s one thing to stay pure when you’ve been dating for two months and you’re not a super-affectionate person to begin with. But when you’ve been dating for two years, keeping those boundaries gets really tough.
It’s important to set boundaries before you break them. Whether your parents gave you a curfew or not, set one and stick to it. If you let your rules slide once, it will happen again and again. Just because you’re a Christian couple does not mean you don’t need rules. The sooner you have an honest discussion about your boundaries, the better. Yes, it might be awkward, but that’s so much better than waiting until you’ve already crossed your personal boundaries.
He appreciates it when you take the time to look good.
I am a very no-fuss person when it comes to my appearance. I like to look nice, but I’m all for practicality. Before William and I started dating, I didn’t wear makeup because I couldn’t be bothered. I started wearing more makeup after we started dating but I still mostly only wear it to church or other outings. It’s so tempting to just wear sweats and be comfortable once you’ve been with your guy for a while, but he really does appreciate it when you put in that extra effort for him.
Sometimes my youngest brother will ask me, “Why do you care how you look? You already have a boyfriend.” He has a point in that I’m not trying to attract other guys, but I think William is worth taking the extra time to look good. At the same time, there’s a big difference between feminine and sexy. We want to be valued for our true worth.
He might “get” you, but he can’t read your mind.
You might be with a guy who just “gets” you. He understands you and he can always tell when something’s wrong. Guys who are sensitive to us are real blessings. They are easy to talk to and you don’t always have to explain yourself. They just know.
However, this does not make them mind-readers. There have been times when William knows something’s wrong and asks me about it, and there have been other times when he has no idea. This means I have to tell him. And I need to be honest and straightforward and loving in the way I’m telling him, not manipulative and demanding.
Having a boyfriend does not mean you will never notice another guy.
If you think having a boyfriend is going to protect you from ever being attracted to another guy, I have bad news for you. You don’t just shut off physical attraction like that. You will never be completely protected from seeing other guys—even after marriage. Being in a dating relationship means committing to one person above others. It’s not wrong to notice other guys. We are, after all, wired to be attracted to guys. It becomes wrong when we are lusting after guys—your boyfriend included.
When I had been dating William for a while, sometimes I would notice other guys and then think, Emily! What’s wrong with you? You have a boyfriend. But I realized that I can’t simply stop myself from noticing guys. What I can control is what I do with those thoughts when I have them. Do I encourage them or take them captive? Our response is what makes the difference.
Infatuation doesn’t last, but love does.
There will be times when your feelings come and go. One day you might just be giddy with love for your significant other, and then the next day you might just be meh. This doesn’t mean you love him any less, it just means that some days we feel it more than others. We’re girls. Emotions change.
It’s like your relationship with God. Sometimes you feel so on fire and passionate about sharing God’s love, yet other times you feel more distant and quiet. It doesn’t mean you love God any less, it just means that we go through different seasons of life and we go through different seasons of emotions, too.
The reality is that true love is a choice—a choice to love even when the feelings aren’t there to motivate you. It’s okay to not have butterflies all the time. Love means choosing the other person over yourself when it’s less than convenient.
Those are some of the things I’ve learned since I started dating! I hope this list has been helpful to you if you are in a relationship or are considering dating. What do you wish you knew before you were in a relationship? I’d love to hear your thoughts!