Being a Christian in the 21st century is no mean feat. It’s not even something I might wish upon my greatest enemy, and when it comes to the dating game and dating websites, the commitment is real, tough, and at times disheartening.
The modern era gave us hook-up apps, One Direction, and new hurdles in social trends. Limitless options in cyberspace aren’t necessarily helpful, and the freedom of choice, is at times paralysing. The desire to find a Zac Effron lookalike with the heart of Pope Francis has pushed us to either become so specific we lose sight of great people, or give up on commitment entirely, instead searching for the greater upgrade, disregarding the fact we are dealing with people—not a Mercedes-Benz.
Even if we do spot a dashing Christian, the person may or may not have been honest on his or her social media profile. A few years ago, an atheist friend of mine pointed at me with victorious venom when a documentary on Channel 4 indicated statistics that Christians lied more than Atheists on dating websites. I didn’t go online for another two years, nor did I wish to call myself a Christian in public. Yet I refused to use blanket statements like my fellow mid-thirty ladies believing, “There are no good men in the church.” This wasn’t technically true—they just hadn’t dated any honourable ones yet. As an activist for healthy Christian relationships, I decided to break Channel 4’s mould, and be a Christian woman who is honest, real and communicated at a heart level. I was hopeful because I believed in the paradox of God and the impossible.
So how do we date while still holding the values of truth, righteousness, joy, purity plans, honour and “‘til death do us part,” at the forefront of our intentions? How do we conduct ourselves according to Christ-like behavior in a cyber forum often riddled with question marks on false identity? Within my observations of both pastoring relationships and witnessing behaviors in my own dating life, here are a few tips that could get the love-ball rolling to a chirpier tune:
- Be Authentic and Honourable
Sometimes we critique how the other person makes us feel instead of appreciating who that person is. Conversely, don’t attempt to be something you think the opposite sex wants. The more authentic you are, the safer the other person will feel, and the less messy it will be later on. Hold onto your identity, and your faith, always seeking to give, and creating a stable environment in the most vulnerable of relationship encounters. And whether or not a relationship occurs from meeting – exit well with communication, honesty and a pinch of diplomacy.
- Space your Pace
Don’t allow much time between initial conversation and meeting face-to-face. Often our perception of someone’s persona is based on what they want us to see, and we build unrealistic expectations. Social media can create a pretend world of whom we would like to be rather than who we really are. Ensure you discover chemistry outside of the 2D screen, checking you can interact face to face, in conversation, just like they did in the 1950s. You see, not all post-modernism works in our favour. Some of the traditional methods have proven to be more connecting than today.
Handle initial excitement with a glacial pace. Interaction with anyone of the opposite sex can spark fun and intrigue, but delve deeper into conversation before racing ahead with relationship status. All good things come to those who space their pace.
- Date Like You Mean It
Accountability is still required online. I often find men are far more amiable to have friendship with after the first date if they’ve got a team of people from which they are seeking guidance. We’re never too old to be mentored. Anyone who doesn’t invite that kind of authority into his or her life is questionable to me.
- Avoid Being Ruled by Lists
Statistically, many Christians have stayed on dating websites for years, never finding their mate. Factors such as age limitation, fear of imperfection, and pickiness about height, have played a major part. Be exploratory in your discovery, and grasp lightly the boxes you ticked. I might love a man with money and a six-pack, but one filled with kindness, character and wisdom holds greater longevity for me. There is a difference between finding a boyfriend and finding a spouse. Beware of what your list is gunning for.
- Be exclusive
Despite the plethora of choice in cyberspace, use your relationship with God to confer and think carefully as to whom you want to place time and conversation, one person at a time. This echoes an ease with intimacy. Dating is merely about building trust, so start as you mean to go on with faithfulness that doesn’t seek to gain over giving.
It’s all rather simple. We have complicated dating as much as we have complicated the Gospel with our own fear, past experience or hopelessness. Dating can be a delectable choice on the menu, but much of the enjoyment is up to us—what we think, how we act, and what we do that will make it as delightful as it as meant to be. Taking ownership over our own decorum sets us back to a good start, and a brighter tomorrow.