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Respecting yourself while having fun dating

Tamar Willoughby, 26th Jul 2018
Tags: Life Blog Love Relationships Romance

I’ve always been the kind of girl who knows what I want when it comes to dating, and I’m so grateful for that. It’s meant that I’ve avoided situations that I’ve seen my friends having to go through that are so painful and a real struggle to overcome.

My parents always taught me my worth when it came to dating, and because of their intentional parenting with this, I always saw myself as a kind, loving person who shouldn’t ‘settle’ for anything less than that in a partner.

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On top of this, I saw a lot of divorce in my extended family, and I was always very aware that I wanted to be sure that my life partner was as intentional about marriage and the selfless love that God provides us with for each other as I was. I definitely wasn’t going to rush anything or settle in the least bit when it came to my love life.

It paid off too, because now I’m 23, I’ve been married to the most amazing man I have ever met for almost one year now, and I have been in a relationship with him since I was 17. 

I know I got lucky, and it’s not always the case that the man of your dreams comes into your life at age 17, sweeps you off your feet and within a couple of months has already started saving up money to marry you when the time is right! I know that it doesn’t always work out like that (in fact, it rarely does!!) but I also know that, had I approached dating differently, it definitely wouldn’t have worked out like that!

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Matt wasn’t my first boyfriend, and like a lot of girls in high school, I dated a bit. Before I met Matt, I’d had around three relationships, each of which I ended.

Staying with someone who values what they want over what you need is not going to create a happy, satisfying relationship.

The key thing for me was that I always took things at my own pace. I’d been taught growing up, and I’d come to really know through my relationship with God, that my feelings and my comfort levels matter. There were times when the boys I was dating pushed me to move things in our relationship forward faster than I was ready for them, and at that point, I always backed out of the relationship, because staying with someone who values what they want over what you need is not going to create a happy, satisfying relationship.

Honestly, I always knew that there was no point in me dating anyone once I’d realised that I didn’t want to marry them. I never dated ‘for fun’, because ultimately I didn’t want to waste my time investing into a relationship that wasn’t healthy or I couldn’t see progressing into marriage, because the only other option is for it to end in heartbreak, and I didn’t want to have to go through that, or to be the reason anyone else went through that.

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If I’d have dated ‘for fun’, and prioritised what feels good and short-term pleasure over investing in somebody who I could see myself marrying, I would have dated around a lot more than I did, and I probably wouldn’t have gone out with Matt (he probably wouldn’t have asked me out if I did act that way - because he was also only interested in dating someone who was aiming for marriage). 

I felt the temptation to date more than I did, and I can understand how easy it is to go out with every boy you find attractive, who shows interest in you, too, even if you know he’s not good for you and not someone you can see yourself marrying.

Girl asking is he your boyfriend
Image Credit: tenor

From experience though, I can honestly tell you, it is worth the wait. When all of your friends seem to be dating and you’re waiting for someone who acts in a way that you would want your future spouse to act, it can get lonely and frustrating, especially if this seems to drag on for years. But, when you’re in a relationship fuelled by prayer, when your spouse values you as the gift that you are, when you are both working to put the other first, and when the selfless and amazing love of God is the driving force of your relationship, it will be well worth any periods of waiting or frustration that you went through before you got there.

Don’t settle when it comes to dating.

Dating can definitely be fun, and so exciting when you find someone who you just click with, and I’m definitely not saying ‘don’t date’! What I am saying, though, is ‘don’t settle’ when it comes to dating.

You are worthy of respect and complete devotion.

Someone finding you attractive alone is not a reason to date them, and if anyone you are dating tries to push you into moving the relationship forward faster than you are ready for, don’t be afraid to tell them to back down, and to end the relationship if they don’t. You are worthy of respect and complete devotion, you deserve a spouse who loves you in the same way that God loves us, which is fearlessly, recklessly, and unconditionally, and you deserve to be with someone who is in the mindset of loving you like this forever.

Man with closed eyes and a t-shit that says respect

Any period of waiting and frustration is definitely worth the contentment and joy and peace that being in a loving, committed, God-centred and devoted relationship can bring. 

And as with all things, if this is something that is on your heart, if it’s something that you’re struggling with, bring it to God in prayer. All that you need to say is “God, I’m struggling with this right now, can you please help me?” He wants to transform your situation, all that you need to do is give him the invitation. 

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