Purity & FreedomSex & Singleness

Dating- Am I Ready?

In continuation of the ideas behind my last post on dating, let’s address the question many of you are asking.

How do I know when I am ready to date?

It is important that we realize there is no surefire set number of days.  We are always a work in progress and some of us advance more quickly than others.  For some of us, there are hurts that go far deeper than pornography.  We need to heal from pornography and then heal those hurts as well.

Ideally, dating should be with the intent to marry.  For that reason, if you are fourteen, struggling with pornography and asking whether or not you are ready to date, my answer is no.  Of course, I would say you weren’t ready even if you were fourteen and not struggling with pornography.

If dating is with intent to marry, then that changes our question a bit.  Are you ready to get married?

That’s a little more daunting, and may be a little more sobering for most of us.  The idea of marriage can frighten us.  It means we have to be vulnerable.  It means we have to be intimate (emotionally as well as physically).  It means we have to be selfless.  It means we have to be compassionate.  It means we have to be everything that lust has trained us not to be.

Here are some thoughts on that subject.

Know who you are in Christ.  Your husband/boyfriend is not meant to ‘complete’ you, and he cannot fix you.  Your love is to be a picture of Christ, not a replacement for Him.  Expecting your husband to be Jesus will only stress him out.

Build your boundaries around your weaknesses.  You know your weaknesses.  If you struggle with fantasy, then it would be a good idea to have an accountability partner for your relationship.  Find a trusted woman who isn’t afraid to help you focus on truth.  If you feel physical tempation might be a struggle, then it would be unwise to ‘date’ by going out to the movie theater alone with your man at night.

Be smart, and put those guidelines in place before Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome melts your little heart.

Speaking of hearts, guard yours.  Yes, your relationship needs to be bulit on honesty, so don’t lie.  Just do not practice vulnerability before he has indicated that he is ready to protect that.  You can answer more general questions and save specific details for later.  Do you need to have that conversation?  Yes, but it can wait for engagement or close to it.  Don’t wait until you’re married, because experience has shown me that it gets harder once you say, “I do.”

But here’s probably the point most of you are hunting for:

You do not need to be perfect, but you need to be closer to healed than healing.  None of us are perfect, and no matter how much preparation you do of yourself, marriage is going to take work.  It is two imperfect people trying to mirror a perfect union.  That isn’t going to happen easily. It definitely isn’t going to happen if you drag all of your baggage and the kitchen sink with you into your marriage.

A friend of mine shares a similar background as I.  She was never involved in sexual sin but suffered a lot of abuse and trauma as a little girl.  We identified with each other’s brokenness.  She got married and about a year in found herself pulling away from her husband.  It took her a few months to realize that she still had not healed and was trying to do that while balancing the demands of a home.  It’s hard enough to heal, period, much less while trying to be a support system for a husband.

Please, make sure you are well on the road to healing before you even enter a dating relationship.  A man worth waiting for will wait for you.

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3 comments

  1. This is very true, when I was younger I was desolate about being single. I was struggling with depression due to bullying and home situations, so I assumed that if I was in a relationship all of my problems would be solved, I’d be happy as soon as someone asked me out. Well failed relationships did happen later on and I wasn’t sure why I still wasn’t happy and why I seemed to have such poor judgement when it came to men. Add that to the bad choices I made and with my naive understanding of how the world worked, and I was a mess.

    Then one day a friend pointed out to me that I relied to heavily on the notion that “relationship = happiness” and as such I was being desperate not choosy, not guarding my heart. A guy would walk in wanting one thing and one thing alone, and I would put all judgement aside (and frankly all intelligence) and wind up more hurt than before. This is maybe where my problems with lust started, where I began to confuse it with love and a healthy relationship. But that’s another story. My friend told me that most men are just as imperfect as I am, they come with their own sorrows, their own desires, and their own confusion. And by thinking that I had any right to forced all my problems on said guy and tell him to fix it, make me whole was unfair, putting that much pressure on someone is unfair and too much for one person to handle. In a real relationship it is true that you will work at each others’ issues together, but that’s the key word “together”. She told me that before I am ready to date I need to learn to be happy and okay with myself, as a single women, or will only lose myself and the guy in a relationship I’m not ready for.

    Now I am in a relationship with an amazing guy, and there are times where my issues at times come to the service, but he helps me, but I still have to remember that I need to be self-sufficient and understand that there is a difference between him supporting my journey and helping when needed, and doing the unhealthy thing of forcing him to fix it and take on the burden myself. To be a fully functioning ‘we’ I need to be a stronger ‘me’ at the same time.

    My main advice to any women wondering if they are ready to date, is to understand that we need to be happy on our own, as ourselves, and with our lives as a single women, because if we aren’t happy on our own we risk forcing too much pressure on someone else to do it for us.

  2. I dated my husband before I started recovery. Due to various issues, we broke up just before I started intensive counseling. I worked on recovery very hard. We started dating 7 months later, got engaged two months after that and got married 13 months after I started counseling. It worked for us, because of the intense nature of the therapy (as well as the lack of the internet at that point in history!), but I don’t know that it would for most women.

  3. Jessica, I seriously want to write “OH MY GOSH YES! I AGREE! SHE KNOWS WHAT I WENT THROUGH! SHE KNOWS WHAT I CONCLUDED! I LOVE HER! SHE IS AWESOME!” on every single entry.

    I’ve struggled with masturbation for several years, and watched naughty things ever since I was younger. I’ve always felt SO guilty and ashamed, and those thoughts really exploded when my ex boyfriend and I messed around and did things we weren’t supposed to. After we broke up, through help of spiritual leaders and a friend that I could tell my story to, I proclaimed “soul ties” off of my ex boyfriend and me, along with everything we did in the name of Jesus. In terms of masturbation, I realized that many woman struggle with the issue, and that I wasn’t alone in the struggle. I also let go of my pride and ego of “What if people find out?” But it took countless regrets and embarrassment before God before I could finally start to have hope that I could be healed. In the process, I learned that this issue will not be solved by marriage, and that I need to be healed before I get married. I used to feel distant from God whenever I committed the sin, but I forced myself to pray and open up to God whenever I did it, and ask for help and hope, because I couldn’t do it by myself. I asked Him, “God, I asked you so many times, why can’t You heal me?” But He answered, “Look where you were several years ago, and look where you are now.” Then I realized how much freer I was now then I was several years ago. Several years ago, I masturbated every week, and I did not want to let go of the desire. Now, I am hopeful even in times of temptation and the act of sin itself, and look forward to the day I will be freed completely. The devil does not have a claim on me. I know that in time, God will heal me, and yes, it is a day-to-day trial. I could go on forever! I wish I could meet you in person. Sorry about this being all jumbled up. But I’m so excited I discovered your website. I got so into reading everything on your blog that I don’t even remember how I discovered it in the first place!

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Jessica! I hope to have a hand on a similar ministry in the near future.

    -25 year-old, single, high school teacher (like you!), born as Presbyterian Christian, woman of God.