DATING & SEX
There are many pros and cons to dating, and it all depends on how you approach your relationships. If you feel that you are not ready or interested in having a committed relationship, you may want to postpone dating until you feel that you are ready. There is no rush to start dating.
Ever wish you could predict ahead of time whether or not a dating relationship will work out? It would save a lot of headaches and heartache, wouldn’t it? While you can’t predict the future, you can make choices that will help guide you…
HOW TO PICK A WINNER
Don’t settle for less! Although nobody’s perfect, you owe it to yourself to have high standards in your choice of boyfriend/girlfriend. Does the person you’re dating demonstrate these qualities?
Honesty: being truthful, no lies or half-truths.
Faithfulness: trustworthy, does what they say they’ll do, doesn’t talk behind your back.
Respectfulness: treats you and others with kindness, isn’t rude or offensive.
Generosity: thinking more of someone else’s needs rather than their own.
Authenticity: being sincere, genuine and reliable.
Perseverance: doing what they set out to do and then finishing what they’ve started even when it’s difficult.
Humor: ability to be joyful, light-hearted and fun.
Communication: being able to talk about feelings, dreams and goals.
Compatibility: similar values, beliefs and lifestyles.
WHY IT’S GOOD TO BE PICKY
You don’t have to have too many lousy dating experiences to realize it makes sense to be picky. And while being picky may limit the number of people you date, it will also improve the quality of each date you have.
As you think through potential dates, ask yourself these questions: What’s my first impression? Until you get to know a person, you must depend on first impressions. Who do they hang around with? What kind of parties do they go to? Do they drink, smoke, use drugs?
How well do I know them? It always makes sense to go out with someone you’ve known for a while rather than a stranger.
Do they treat others with respect? Ever been around a girl who can’t do anything but put down her boyfriend? Ever spent time with a guy who likes to brag about how far he got on his last date? Not exactly the kind of people you want to trust with your self-image or your reputation.
Do our values clash? Are the things most important to you also important to them? Are you headed in the same general direction in life? (For instance: You value good grades and plan to attend college; your potential date regularly cuts classes and has no plans for life after graduation.)
Do they keep their promises? If they’ve been in a serious dating relationship before, did they flirt with others or cheat on the person they were dating?
The decision to have sex is a very important one, and there are lots of things to think about. Sexual relationships affect your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Whether you are considering sexual activity, or you have already had sex, there are risks for pregnancy and STIs even when using birth control or condoms. The only sure way to avoid getting an STI or to prevent pregnancy is to practice abstinence. Once you are in a long-term, mutually monogamous and committed relationship with an uninfected partner (in marriage), you will have no reason to worry about pregnancy or getting an STI.
BEFORE GETTING SERIOUS
Let’s say you’ve asked the right questions and you’ve been careful about the people you date. In time, you’ll probably find yourself liking one person a lot. It looks like it’s getting serious. If you find yourself moving in this direction, or if you are already in a serious relationship, here are other questions to think through and to talk about together:
Is our relationship about mutual trust? If lies creep into the relationship, it’s time to get truthful, or call it quits.
Can we be ourselves when we’re together? If you have to be somebody you’re not, then you’re in the wrong relationship.
Are either of us overly possessive? If one of you can’t move without the other one knowing it, then possessiveness is a big problem.
Do we regularly have good conversations? Chat room-type chatter is fine. But now and then you need to have a conversation that goes a bit deeper, that lets you know each other’s likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams.
Have we set physical limits? This question is extremely important and often difficult to answer, you need to set agreed-upon limits early on. If you break up tomorrow, would you end the relationship with no regrets about your physical involvement?
Do we have dates that include our friends? If your friends or family complain that they don’t see you anymore, your relationship has gotten way too exclusive.
Do we plan how we’ll spend our time together? With “nothing to do,” it’s easy to fill up your time by becoming more physically involved than you should.
Do we have a good understanding of what forgiveness means? People mess up. That’s why it’s important to forgive each other.
Can we disagree agreeably? A relationship isn’t about winning, it’s about wanting what’s best for each other. If either of you must always win, you’re in a no-win relationship.
- Diane Eble, “Smart Dating,” Campus Life. Retrieved 2014
4 “RED FLAGS” THAT SIGNAL YOUR RELATIONSHIP NEEDS REPAIR
CRITICISM: Attacking someone’s personality or character rather than discussing specific problems or behaviors, Criticism comes across as judgment, accusation or blame.
CONTEMPT: Hostility, name-calling, insults, mocking, rolling the eyes, sneering, or other expressions.
DEFENSIVENESS: Usually a response to contempt or criticism; denying responsibility, making excuses, dredging up the past, saying ‘yes’ followed immediately with ‘but,’ repeating yourself, or whining.
STONEWALLING: Putting up barriers in a relationship, especially to avoid conflict; refusing to talk or cooperate, procrastinating, ignoring problems, and walking out.
READY TO START OVER?
Make an appointment to share your concerns and seek help or referrals.