My Christian dating experience

Hannah Neill, writer of Neill Before The Lord, shares her experience of how her Christian faith affects the way she dates…

Have you ever received a really awkward present? The kind that you open and genuinely have no idea what it possibly could be. It’s even more awkward when the giver is standing there in front if you, expectancy in their eyes, baited breath…

“Wow. Thanks so much, that is just what I wanted, how did you know….”

You’re forced to fake a smile as the giver looks on with pride. But the minute they’re gone, so is the present. Confined to the back of a cupboard, only to be brought out on special occasions when the giver is around.

I used to treat my faith like this. Keeping it well hidden, putting God at the back of my mind and only bringing him out on a Sunday, or when I needed to pass an exam I hadn’t studied for. I was embarrassed by Him, I didn’t know what to do with Him. My Christian faith didn’t really change me and it definitely didn’t have anything to do with my love life.

But then I actually encountered the Jesus that my Sunday school teachers had talked about and everything changed.

Now, my faith isn’t an optional extra. It’s not simply a part of my life. It’s not even the main part. My faith is my life. I try and see everything through the lens of Jesus and that includes dating.

Don’t get me wrong, following Jesus does not make you perfect. It doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. And unfortunately Christian dating definitely doesn’t mean that you won’t get your heart broken.

But hopefully, following Jesus means you start to look a little bit more like him every day. And what I’ve realised is that Jesus isn’t so much concerned with rules or religion, but instead He is all about love. And I want to be too. Not just a fluffy, cute, heart shaped love. But a cross shaped love that brings life and freedom wherever it goes. How would that kind of love change the way we date?

Christian dating, ideas on love:

Love listens.

They say the key to a good relationship is communication and communication is always a two way street. Learning to listen more is a skill all of us could do with practising. And by listening I don’t mean simply hearing what the other person is saying, but actually just waiting for them to finish so you can speak your mind. Real listening is paying complete attention to someone, genuinely caring about what they have to say. Not out of obligation but out of love. True love listens.

Love honours.

I’ve been on a couple of ‘surprise dates,’ which aren’t as fun as they sound. Surprise dates are so called because it comes as a surprise to me that they even are dates. It’s all very friendly until he insists on paying for everything and then the alarm bells sound. Cue, awkward conversation. Now, there is a high probability that I’m just completely oblivious and slightly stupid, but honouring means being clear with your intentions. Of course intentional does not mean intense; discussing how many children you’d both like on a first date might be too far. But honour each other’s peace of mind and always be honest. True love honours.

Love gives.

Don’t tell anyone but I have this list… a list of things that I look for in a guy. Kindness, integrity and honesty are up there, along with slightly more shallow requirements such as being insanely hot, playing the guitar and singing like Justin Timberlake. Standards are definitely not a bad thing, but dating isn’t simply about me. It’s not all about what I can get, or what I want. Relationships are about giving. Giving yourself without expectations. Jesus layed down his life out of love and we are called to do the same. True love gives.

I used to take all of my relationship advice from “He’s Just Not That Into You” which i warn you now, never ends well… But when I stopped relying on Hollywood and started listening to Jesus, I realised that when it comes to Christian dating, there is no formula or tick list. There is no one way to begin a relationship, to stay in a relationship or to end a relationship. But love is always a good place to start. Love listens, love honours and love gives.

Has Hannah inspired you to start dating? Get started on our Christian dating page