If dating is so wonderful, why does it hurt so much? I call the hurt you get from dating “hurtful disappointments”. In my experience dating has only led to disappointment and major anxiety than to my marriage partner. There are so many reasons why people date and that used to be my reasons also; loneliness, to find a marriage partner, to feel wanted, to develop social skills and emotional health, to prepare for marriage, to relate to the opposite sex and because the world says it’s good to date. No matter what everybody had to say about dating, all I encountered were “hurtful disappointments”. I knew deep down God did not create our hearts to bond and break repeatedly.
It was about 3 years ago when I read a book by Dr. Don Raunikair called “Choosing God’s best: wisdom for lifelong romance”. It definitely impacted my life in a very positive way and I decided to implement some of his teachings to my life. I will shed light on some of the topics he discussed that stood out the most to me.
Difference between Dating and Courtship
He talked about the difference between dating and courtship. He explains that the principles of courtship are God-centered and biblically based. Courtship is a biblical process of finding and choosing a mate while glorifying God, honoring and respecting each other. Dating, on the other hand, is the world’s alternative to courtship. Its principles are man-centered and culturally determined. He also talked about “counterfeit oneness” which to me was very enlightening and informative. He explains that when God designed the desire for intimacy (the strongest, most intimate of all human relationships) in other words, God’s creative work in Adam was not complete until he made Eve.
The goal was oneness. However, many people are trying to find this fulfillment outside of marriage. When this happens, the oneness they create is counterfeit- something that looks like the real thing until you hold it up to God’s light and see it for the weak, hollow, hopeless relationship it really is.
He states that dating couples often develop a counterfeit oneness that feels like marriage but lacks commitment and responsibility.
Our souls look the same way after we’ve glued ourselves to other people physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually outside of marriage. Part of that person is still with us, “getting over” him or her is nearly impossible. Our thoughts and emotions are constantly being drawn back to the past so that sometimes we’re not fully in the present.
He takes us further in explaining what “counterfeit physical oneness” is. This occurs when those who have not healed from broken relationships carry forever memories and reminders of past sexual partners. When we become sexually involved with others we become one with them, and we become one with the one they became one with, and so on. God explains these counterfeit body and soul ties in 1 Corinthians 6:16 stating “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her body? For it is said, ‘THE TWO WILL BECOME ONE FLESH.’”
Counterfeit Emotional Oneness develops when you give your emotions to someone beyond what is required for friendship. Anyone who has felt the deep, gut-wrenching pain of a breakup or experienced an unhealthy relationship can relate to this type of counterfeit oneness. He goes on to explain “Counterfeit Spiritual Oneness” where he mentioned that we are spiritual beings on a human journey. Spiritual intimacy is the first and deepest level of a relationship. Our wholeness in this area must be reserved for the mate God selects. “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15). He also makes it clear not every good choice is God’s choice, and seeking God’s will is the most important part of selecting your mate.
Another point that had me in deep thought was a question he asked which says “Does God want you to marry anyone ever? Or is his plan for you to remain single? Scripture teaches that marriage, like salvation, is an unmerited gift from God (Genesis 2:18) and scripture also tells us that singleness is God’s gift as well. Just like many of you, I long to be married and have a family of my own but if God calls me to a life of singleness, I will be fine with it because I am sure He will fill the void with something even better.
Being single is our time for self-improvement
Society makes being single a bad thing, as if there is something wrong with you. Next time someone asks you “Why are you single”? simply reply and say “being single is a time of self-improvement and evolving into your authentic self”. Marriage is not two halves but two whole people and the truth is that your time of singleness helps you discover exactly who you are and what you want out of a relationship.
It is a time to invest in yourself, your time, your ministries and to causes that would make a lasting difference for the kingdom of God. I am not saying not to date; all I am saying is to be careful who you allow into your life. Don’t just give someone an all access pass to you and your heart because you are priceless. I do not date out of selfish reasons like for a free meal, due to loneliness, for entertainment purposes or to feel wanted because I am well aware of how important it is to protect my heart. Although I have not had the best experience in dating or in men period, I still have faith that if it’s in God’s plan for my life he will pair me with the right man designed specifically for me.
Like the psalmist says, “Take heart”. Let your heart take courage and resist following your own schedule rather wait on his timing for God uses waiting to refresh, renew and to teach us. God calls his people to a higher standard than the standard of the world. Do not let your fear of failing to find a relationship make you take matters into your own hand, God is the ultimate match-maker. He always saves his best for those who are willing to wait for it!