5 Pieces of Dating Advice for the Not Yet Married

By Alex Oram

The object of your love draws you towards it and changes you to become more like it.

There’s so much truth to that. And think about it. Our desires are shaped by what we allow ourselves to see. What we read. What we take in through the lens of our eyes and ears. And we then in turn imitate what we love. That’s why it’s important to choose wisely what we allow ourselves to see, for WHAT and WHOM we choose to love we will become more like.

I’m no dating expert, but here is some of the best advice I can offer that I’ve learned over the years through people, prayer, books, and personal experience. It’s both for anyone wishing not to settle in choosing a spouse and especially for the believer in finding someone ‘equally yoked.’

Let’s get to it. Here are 5 honest reasons not to settle in your dating life.

1. A candle is best when it actually does its job.

Slow burn rather than short flicker. People light candles because they last. What if a candle went off like a firework? First, give me 20 of those candles! Second, I hope that candle gives off a good enough smell with one spark.

But in all seriousness people like a candle because it works! There’s such a thing as the principal of delayed gratification. It’s something that lasts for the long haul rather than a single season. Did you catch that? Delayed gratification is a discipline, I believe. And the first time I’ve heard it even stated as such was in a conference, and I’ll never forget it.

How does it relate to dating? The partner you choose will be with you for the long haul. On great days, on the hard days, and on everything in between. Choosing wisely means considering whether you get along with this person on a basic friend level and whether this person accepts every part of you. The best relationships exist between the best of friends who’ve cultivated a love. Choosing wisely often means choosing timely, which often means waiting. Remember, delayed gratification.

2. Character Counts!

In the season(s) you’re waiting what you may not realize is you’re building a character. You’re preparing yourself for patterns that will carry over into dating and then marriage. So don’t look at the season of singleness as “a waste.”

You’re working on either setting (or failing to set) patterns of discipline in the way you use your time, money, and talents. You’re developing habits that don’t just get broken at the snap of a finger.

When choosing a partner don’t deny yourself the physical attributes you most like and please don’t settle. But also don’t settle on a person’s character. Your future self will thank you and a person’s character will show up consistently in the progression of a relationship and you will be thankful for a good choice.

3. The Core is Key

You reach for a chocolate and pluck out a good-looking one. You bite into it like it’s your last meal and it turns out to be……cherry centered. ‘What the!’ *tosses it in the trash* (Sorry babe). If you go in expecting a peanut butter core to find cherry, that’s a let down. At least to me. Anyhow…how does this relate?

Out of the core of a person proceeds everything that colors that person’s desire. If the foundation isn’t strong, when the storm comes the entire house crumbles! Jesus himself said to build yours on the Rock. On Himself. And that truth translates right to the life of a relationship. What does that look like practically?

First, the most important decision one can make, in my opinion, is whether or not to cultivate a relationship with Christ. That means a personal relationship, through repentance and belief with the heart (another blog on what this means to come). The second most important life decision is cultivating a relationship with the right spouse. “A good marriage will be the closest thing one experiences to heaven on this side of life. A bad marriage will be the closest thing one experiences to hell” (Thomas, 2013).

Why does it seem overstated? Because it should be. A house divided cannot stand. If at your core, at the deepest level of your soul, of who you are, who you love is in fact Christ, then everything you do, for yourself, for others, when no one is watching (character) and for God proceeds out of that love. The way you CHOOSE to love your spouse, the way you seek to improve on that love, the passion with which you bring to the relationship, the way you repent, and the way you seek to provide for the family.

Now look at the inverse. If a believer marries a nonbeliever, when they’re married, the deepest levels of their souls are in fact in disconnect (Piper, 2005). There’s a discrepancy. Many struggles will proceed out of that. So when you’re holding out for, waiting for, or preparing for “the right one” and you’ve chosen not to settle, remember, what you’ve waited for is someone with the same core as you, the same foundation. The core counts. Toss that cherry chocolate. And you will appreciate it more and more as the relationship progresses.

4. Life is like a box of chocolates. Your relationship is like a funnel. 

Let’s call it the funnel effect.

An unequally yoked relationship (believer with unbeliever) looks something like a funnel that is right side up. It starts off wide. It may seem like you have many things in common. As time goes on you learn more and more that you’re actually very different, to the core. That reality will hit to the core too. It becomes harder to hide that. Relationships bring to the surface what the single person may not grapple with, come to terms with, or examine in himself on his own. Both the best and worst come out. And for that, marriage is cleansing. Marriage is sanctifying. Your spouse is both a gift and a full length mirror (Thomas, 2015).

When the layers are unraveled what the person in an unequally yoked relationship often finds is that there is no longer a strong core or foundation and little struggles become harder to work through. You actually have to go back to basics or wish you did before entering the relationship.

Now the equally yoked relationship works in reverse (picture a funnel upside down). You may even start off really well. As time goes on, you learn more and more of the character of that person. That’s exactly what matters when life happens. You realize this person does in fact share your core. Little problems no longer shake you to the core because your core is so strong and you know you both have the most important things in common, and if you’ve chosen wisely you have similar tastes, hobbies, and desires as well! I can’t overstate how grateful I am for this.

5. Every Perfect Gift

Let me tell you, I also cannot overstate the power of prayer. Especially in the life of my romantic relationship.

There’s something about a significant other praying beside you, praying over you, and praying for you with such passion and sincerity that it awakens your heart in unexpected and unchallenged ways. I’ve heard the quote, ‘We pray because prayer changes us.’ Yes it does. But it’s ALSO the God ordained means to petition the Lord. So yes, it places us in the proper perspective (God>>>me) but it also communicates a lot more than what is said between a couple who prays for each other, beside each other, and over each other consistently. It strengthens the bond that already exists between the two people and that’s not even touching on the fact that God answers those prayers!

With that being said, I hope you’ll find that life may be like a box of chocolates, but your dating life should certainly not be. You can know what you’re going to get! Don’t settle my friend.

Alex Oram is a faithful attender of Renewal Church.

Recommended Resources

Piper, J. (2005). Sex and the Supremacy of Christ. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books: Good News Publishers.

Thomas, G. (2013). The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who you marry, but Why? Colorado Springs, Colorado: David C Cook Publishing.

Thomas, G. (2015). The Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing.