How to Prepare for Christian Dating with Clear Expectations and Wants

Let’s say you meet someone and there’s mutual attraction. You exchange contact information and small conversations start. Now what? How do you engage in the conversations and what are your expectations once you start dating? Your expectations and wants should be clear BEFORE you start dating. The clearer you are on what you want, the less of your time (and theirs) is wasted. I made a list to help guide my dating; you can create your own but feel free to use mine as a starting point. 

This isn’t to make dating all about being super rigid or picky, but too many times we don’t have real deal breakers we stick by and sometimes we go with the flow so much, we forget to include God and we aren’t mindful of the things that matter most. Do you really see a future with somebody or is it just comfortable? It takes digging a little deeper to know, but it’s also way more peaceful doing what you know is best.

My list of things I want to do when I start back dating is below. My original thoughts are italicized and additional thoughts I had for this post are in regular font.

Things I Want to do When I Date

1. Pray, pray and pray some more.

And by prayer, I mean, two main things. General prayers about things like peace, guarding of our hearts, safety, clarity, and God’s guidance. But also praying about very specific things I want God to show me and to confirm. Like, “Lord let me see how this person is when they’re angry” “let me see how he does with his finances and overall how responsible he is” “what are the things he finds fun and spends the most time doing.” 

Those are a few examples but the biggest part of this is waiting, listening, and seeing what God says as well as what He shows me. As things are revealed, my prayer is to trust the direction God is leading me. Whatever He shows is for a reason and I don’t want to move ahead of Him. I also want to be sensitive to any nudges God gives me. If a random thought about purpose comes up, that will be something I add to my prayer list. “Lord show me how our purposes either align or conflict.” And if God shows areas where your expectations are off, listen. He knows best.

2. Continue to stay in the Bible.

The time spent in the Bible is instrumental to my faith and to deeper relationship with God. Through reading the Word, I have learned so much about God’s character and who He is. The more I get to know Him, the more I love Him. Now, when I have moments of doubt or fear, I have so much more truth to grab hold of instead of dwelling on negative feelings for too long.

3. Continue to be involved in community.

It can be easy to go from strangers to best friends in a short space of time when you meet someone you hit it off with. I don’t want to isolate myself from my friends because I am spending so much time with the guy I date. I know it can happen unintentionally so I will be intentional about how I use my time. I think it’s important to have strong friendships outside of him. At the right time, I want to introduce him to my friends and see how we all get along in a social setting. 

Friends can sometimes see things we don’t see. They might ask questions you haven’t thought to ask. Also, you can see how the person you’re dating interacts with your community. Are they open to meeting your friends? If they don’t leave being besties with your friend group, that’s obviously not a dealbreaker. However, if a fight breaks out or if they make uncomfortable comments that would obviously be concerning. 

4. show up as a good friend.

There are so many dating games, but I want to show up as a good and honest friend. If I don’t like something, I will be mindful of how I share it, being direct, but kind. When he shares things he’s involved in, I’ll be mindful of how I can potentially support. I’ll check in on how he’s doing, be mindful when he’s expressed he’s having a hard week, and think about how I would typically support a friend at that stage. 

Your willingness to show up can tell you a lot about how much you really are starting to like someone and how much you care about them. If you only want to see a person when it’s convenient, that may not be the best sign. As you are getting to know them and you start noticing you’re invested in the things they care about, that’s a sign a bond is building and you have their best interest in mind. 

Also, starting off as just friends is an important stage of dating that is often skipped. With attraction there this can be challenging, but it goes back to wanting to be sure you’re on the same page and you like them outside of attraction. It’s so much harder to backtrack when feelings attachment begins to form, because you’ve spent a lot of time with someone.

5. Set boundaries.

Boundaries could include not being at each other’s places by ourselves, not seeing each other too late at night, not kissing before we’re exclusive (and even having limits on that), and whatever else I determine will be important as far as a boundary. Boundaries also include things that I talk about, so not moving too fast with what I share with him, but remembering that I should only share things that I’m comfortable with at the level that I trust him at.

Boundaries are very person-specific. The goal is that you don’t dishonor yourself or another person and that you don’t move too fast. I learned an impactful idea about trust. Trust should be based on the stage you’re at with someone. Pay attention to areas trust has been proven, don’t just trust someone 100% to start off. Some may balk at this – but would you trust someone you just met to hold on to thousands of dollars for you? No, because you don’t have any proof you can trust them to do that. There are different levels of trust in different areas with people and it can change and grow as you interact. That’s okay and that’s really healthy to be mindful of.

6. listen carefully to what he says, and look carefully at what he does, and what his intentions are.

I’ll be mindful of how he responds to my actions and our conversations and pay attention to how he treats me. Are we good friends to each other? Does it feel like there’s more interest on one side than the other? These are factors I’ll want to consider. If he says he’s not ready for something I will then decide what that means for me because I can only control me. So if he says something, I need to respect it and then decide if I’m OK with it – truly OK with it. From there, I have to decide how I will move forward.

There are so many factors that play into why a person indicates serious interest, casual interest, or no interest in dating. Think about the times someone showed an interest in you but you just “didn’t see them like that.” Sometimes you can’t even fully put your finger on it but you aren’t interested or maybe you just want a friendship. People get that same grace. It’s okay if you don’t want to continue talking at all. What’s important is being honest with yourself (and them) when information is revealed and moving forward healthily.

7. Reassess Boundaries

If boundaries are crossed, we have to potentially be more extreme, and if trust is broken, I have to decide what is the consequence. I want to pay attention to how seriously they take my concerns and boundaries and I will be mindful of theirs as well. If they behave in a way that shows they don’t truly care about my boundaries or concerns that tells me all I need to know. Not everything is a conversation to be had. Some things are just a decision to be made. 

Keeping boundaries isn’t always easy, but getting serious about respecting boundaries shows that you seriously respect a person and their values. There is grace on both sides, but both parties should be in prayer for and practicing self-control. Also, willing to make adjustments as needed so boundaries aren’t constantly crossed.

8. I want to have fun.

All those are really heavy but I also want to have fun, be confident and be myself, dress up, look cute, be modest, be respectful, be nurturing and just enjoy getting to know someone and remember that they are first part of God’s family. They’re made in God’s image, and I just want to have self-control and be wise. 

That pretty much sums it up. Enjoying one another is a big part of the equation as well. It goes back to that building a friendship piece. And part of friendship includes enjoying each other’s company and lots of laughs. At least I hope it does. Laughter is great medicine!

Note to Self and a Note to the Reader

Remember dating is gathering data, so be mindful of the conversations you’re having, the places you’re going, what the person you’re dating is saying and what they’re doing. Notice how they are around people, how they treat people, how I feel with them (safe, guarded, unsure), signs God gives – all of that. Let him lead but be okay with setting boundaries as needed and only doing what you’re comfortable with and what you know is glorifying to God.

Remember you are whole, loved, you have purpose and you matter. Don’t let anyone make you second guess your worth. Don’t be afraid to let go or say no to dates that you know aren’t right. Talk about things you love and enjoy, show your personality. It doesn’t all have to be serious! Mix it up. Share your day, share what you’re working on. Praayyy! And listen.

What else would you add to your list? Comment below. 

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