Things I Wish I Knew before I Started Dating

Dating can be fun, but there can be tough things too. There's lots to learn and grow from. Click here to read seven things I learned while dating!

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.

Ha.

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!

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Being Pure in Every Aspect of Life

When we hear "purity", we usually think of sexual purity. But have you ever stopped to think about being pure in other areas of your life? God asks us to live holy and pure lives, but how do we do that? Click here to read more!

If you went to youth group as a teen, there’s little doubt that at some point, you got “the talk” from your youth pastor or small group leader. Everyone knew that sexual purity was going to be discussed; the question was if it would be in large group or in segregated small groups. And you definitely did not want to be sitting beside the guy you liked during said “talk”. Awkward.

We spent so much time talking about sexual purity in youth group that I think we forgot about something just as important: purity in every area of life.

It’s really easy to agree with the fact that we should have a sexually pure lifestyle. But what about laughing at a suggestive joke? Using coarse language (whether that’s taking God’s name in vain or not)?

Purity is something that isn’t talked about a whole lot, but there are several verses on it. In the Old Testament, God’s people were required to make sacrifices in order to keep themselves pure before God. In the New Testament, there are many verses about purity. In 1 Peter 3, Peter shows us that purity is powerful. In verses 1 & 2, he tells his readers:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

When we are pure, people notice. And Peter says that being respectful and pure are two important traits that a woman can use to bring her husband to Christ—without a word. Wow.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in situations where we were all hanging out at youth group or young adults and someone shared the sanitized or “Christian” version of a dirty joke. The kind you wouldn’t pick up on if you were completely naïve, but was also too easy to read into. Everyone kind of laughs, like they know they shouldn’t, but hey—it’s funny. We’re all Christians. It’s like there’s a mutual understanding that we all know we shouldn’t laugh, but we won’t judge each other if we do.

The truth is, purity matters. It stands out when you refuse to participate in anything not honouring to God. When you give up your popularity to make Jesus proud, you stop blending in.

Maybe that’s what’s so scary.

Maybe we’re afraid of standing out. We are Christians and want to act as such, but we don’t want to look super righteous or be called a goody two-shoes. We don’t want to take any risks. But the reality is that being pure is an essential part of the Christian faith and lifestyle.

The latter part of 1 Timothy 5:22 says,

…nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

If Christ has made us righteous before God, has he not made us pure? Why then, if we are made righteous in Christ, should we try to hide that?

If we take purity out of the picture, we are hiding the evidence of our faith. Click To Tweet

Please also notice in the above verse: we are not to take part in others’ sins; our responsibility is ourselves. I’m not saying you should preach to everyone who tells a distasteful joke, nor that you should develop a “holier than thou” attitude. Purity should be paired with humility. What I am saying is that we must choose purity for ourselves.

In 1 Timothy 4:12 & 16a, Paul encourages Timothy, a young man serving the Lord, with these words:

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (…) Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. (…)

Paul encourages Timothy to not only be pure, but to be an example. To stand out. To set a high standard for himself. In verse 16, Paul adds that Timothy must guard himself and focus on the Word. Purity does not come easily, ladies. It requires us to watch our behaviour and focus on Christ. It doesn’t just happen.

Today, let me encourage you to seek purity in all things. By being pure, you are being a powerful witness to others. You’re saying that your values matter more than your reputation. Christ matters more than your comfort. I challenge you to set yourself apart by doing everything out of purity.

 

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