Valentine’s Day can be exasperating for those who have not yet found their Valentine. Young adults are often haunted by questions such as: Will I find someone for me? What if I lose out on all the good ones? What if I marry the wrong one? What type of person am I looking for? Relationships can bring a lot of joy or a lot of heartache. Where does a person go to learn about this vital subject?
Here are ten skills for establishing a healthy dating relationship. They are intended for young people, but their principles apply to us all.
Create friends among the opposite sex. This will help you to feel comfortable with and learn to understand the opposite sex. Not everyone thinks the same way you do, and having a variety of friends will help you to gain a different perspective. Join youth groups or young adult groups and start expanding your spheres of influence. Learn how to be friendly and meet new people. The Bible tells us that “A man that has friends must show himself friendly.” (Proverbs 18:24, KJV)
Look for someone with similar goals. When you do find someone you might like to date, find out what that person’s future goals are to make sure that both of you are going down similar paths. One of the most frequent causes of divorce is that the couple no longer share any common interests. Ask and find out what his interests are, what she is passionate about, and where he sees himself in five years. Does she want children? If so, how many? Where does he want to live? Is she willing to move? Does he want to travel?
Know what type of person you want. Write a list of qualities you would look for in a future husband or wife. What are your top values? Do you want someone who is eager to serve the Lord and puts him first? Men, do you want a career woman or a wife who will stay at home with the children? Women, do you want a spiritual leader or are you not willing to be led? Be clear about the priorities that are important to you.
Understand what you will tolerate and what you will not. No one is perfect, and everyone has weaknesses. Do not marry a project — someone you hope to change. You must totally accept whoever you marry. Can you handle someone being late all the time or not? How about someone who has anger issues? Are you willing to tolerate someone who compromises? What if that person lies, yells at his/her parents or drinks alcohol?
Deal with hurts of the past. Make an appointment to see a professional who can help you forgive those who have hurt you. Break off all ungodly ties and admit all the painful events of your past so that you will not bring unfinished business into a new relationship.
Establish boundaries up front. Establish and communicate the guidelines for your relationship. What is acceptable and what is not? Will you hold hands or hug? How late at night will you stay out? Will you be alone in the dark? Self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit, so decide ahead of time what you will do. Don’t wait till you are in the middle of something to decide. The best advice is to stay as far away from the cliff edge as you can. Don’t allow yourself to be in a compromising position.
Communicate openly and assertively. Sometimes we are afraid to say what we really think for fear we might lose the other person. But if you can’t communicate openly with a potential spouse at the beginning, what makes you think you will be able to be honest later? It will not get any easier. Talk openly about your thoughts and feelings. Use “I” statements, and don’t blame other people for your mistakes. Take ownership of your own life. Speak up if you don’t agree with something. Offer your opinion, and share your ideas. Learn to talk in front of others. “The righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1, NIV)
Build trust. Stick to your word. Only promise what you can deliver. Be a team player by encouraging the input of others. Treat people fairly by being teachable and open to feedback.
Be yourself. There should be no surprises. Allow yourself the freedom to be who you are all the time. You should be the same person in public as you are in private.
Listen intently. Give your undivided attention when someone is talking to you instead of thinking about what you want to say. Make the most of every opportunity by enjoying the people you are talking with. Repeat back to them what they have said to make sure you understood completely.
Ask the Lord to lead you one step at a time, and be sensitive to his leading. Be a person of integrity and character by being everything God wants you to be. Maybe your Valentine is just around the corner.