The media may be full of different representations of what the dating world is like, but most Christians know that their values are a key factor in a successful dating experience. Even in a world where values are diverse and role models scarce, Christians can uphold their values while dating by knowing themselves and communicating effectively.
Know your values. Make a list before you enter into a relationship of all of the qualities you know you need in a life partner. These qualities should be general rather than specific. This isn't a portrait of the ideal man or woman, it's a set of guidelines.
Learn which values are based in your faith and which are personal. Make note of which values you know you will be unable to compromise, as well as which values you may be flexible about. Making this decision ahead of time will help you once you are in the relationship to not feel pressured to make a decision on the spot.
Communicate with your partner clearly and openly. Rather than sending signals or expecting your partner to get the message from your behavior, discuss your values openly. Both you and your partner need to be comfortable with your needs and expectations.
Ask your partner about his or her values as well. Don't assume that your partner shares your values, even if the two of you belong to the same denomination or church. Different home environments and upbringings result in different priorities and value sets, so be willing to develop a set of shared values that incorporates the things that are most important to both of you.
Be patient, both with your partner and with dating in general. Give your partner time to get comfortable with your values and lifestyle, but also be willing to admit when a match isn't working. Be patient in waiting to find someone who is a better fit for you.
Sense when your boundaries are being threatened. Especially if you have been dating someone for a while, you may begin to feel more comfortable with him or her and something that violates your values might not seem as serious. Maintain an open dialogue with your partner about values as the relationship develops, and don't forget to consult your list from time to time.
Listen to your feelings about a relationship. You need to feel completely comfortable with someone to know that a dating relationship is ready to become more serious.
Respect your partner at all times. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in Christian dating is to make your partner feels like he or she isn't valued. Make sure that your partner knows that while God comes first and your values are important to you, it's also important that you be compassionate and caring and that your partner feels loved and respected.
- Don't expect your partner to change his or her lifestyle or personality at any point in the future, or think that marriage will improve a relationship that you don't feel at peace with.