When dating someone, it is that time to find out if you are compatible with one another. There are many factors to consider; some of which being religion, faithfulness, and “red flags” or things you should watch out for. Although it will take time to get to know these things about your person of interest, it is important you do not rush the process. This initial stage of infatuation can be strong and sometimes confused for what love is. This stage can be short term and can make it easy to miss red flags and can hinder your ability to see if you both are compatible with one another. The infatuation stage of a relationship can be comprised of intense feelings of attraction, attachment, and feeling like you found the one. As the couple work towards getting to know one another this phase will soon pass.
Once this phase passes, it’s easier to start the inspection process. For example, what is your level of attraction towards one another? Do you have the same life goals? Are your lifestyles different? Do you both have different needs? Who has a higher sex drive and who has a lower sex drive? Is there a difference in core beliefs (political, religious, family values, philosophical)? Are they actively involved in church or is it not that important? It may be easier to consider if you should date them or wait if you categorize things into needs and wants. What are you willing to work with and what are deal breakers? Although the dating process can be difficult, these are important factors to consider when finding “the one”.
In 1 Peter 2:22, it states “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (English Standard Version of Holy Bible). No one is perfect, only the Lord, Jesus Christ. We will all make mistakes and sin. In finding the one you hope to spend the rest of your life with, it is important to consider are whether their faults and weaknesses deal breakers or can you work with them? Also, in identifying your own faults, weaknesses, and strengths, you can work towards becoming a better person for the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. It is not about perfection; it is about progression. Does the relationship help you both progress towards a healthier, more Christ-like version of yourselves? How are you working on your weaknesses and faults to be better for the one you want to spend the rest of your life with? In assessing various factors, you are inching your way closer to finding the one you can spend the rest of your life with. Are you working on yourself and are you interviewing appropriately to see if this relationship will work?
In Christianity, it is critical to share the same faith with our spouse. In the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Since God is the foundation of your relationship, it is important to identify your religious views. Some individuals may come from stricter backgrounds, whereas others may be more laxed in their faith. When difficult times arise, are you going to want someone that will pray with you? Are both individuals able to build up one another in the faith? What denomination (Pentecostal, Baptist, Non-denominational, etc.) are they from (for some, this may matter)?
Religion is also important to consider when thinking of a family. How do you want to raise children in the Christian faith? Are there family traditions around Christianity you want to instill in your children? What is your view of Christmas? For some, these may be easy questions to answer and for others this can be more difficult. Having God as a apart of your relationship is critical. You are able to depend on Him in tough times, He Helps to soften our hearts towards one another, and anchors what our morals and values should be. Christian couples can have a stronger sense of commitment because of what the bible says about marriage (English Standard Version, Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Obviously, these scriptures are not an exhaustive list, but the Bible talks about what love is. It also talks about honoring your marriage before others and respecting it. For many Christians, commitment to a marriage can be taken more seriously. They are more likely to marry knowing the type of commitment they are making before God. Establishing a relationship on God can increase the longevity of a marriage.
Before purchasing a car, you check under the hood and inspect it to make sure it is working correctly. Looking for red flags is another way of making sure you are entering into a healthy relationship. You want to feel safe, secure, and that you can trust this person. When red flags arise, it sends a signal to steer clear of this person. Looking for red flags is a necessary part of the dating process. When considering “red flags”, look for things that may seem concerning or things that may be deal breakers for a marriage. For example:
What is their relationship history?
- Do they have a promiscuous past or have they had a small number of relationships? This can help with considering “what am I more comfortable with?” Should I date this person or wait?
Are they manipulative? (If you notice they are manipulative, you want to avoid this person.)
- Do they use circumstances to point out the negative in order to get what they want?
- Do they use gaslighting?
- Do they twist your words to get what they want?
- Do they use sarcasm to get a point across to make you feel less than?
- Do they play on your insecurities?
- Do they use fear to control situations?
- Do they take and not give back in the relationship? (ie: emotionally, financially, etc.)
Is the person relationally competent?
- Are they willing to sacrifice and/or compromise?
- Are they isolated relationally?
- What kind of friends do they hang around?
Are they mature in their adult responsibilities?
- Do they manage their finances well?
- Does the person have a career direction?
- Do they take care of themselves physically?
- Is the person able to navigate basic life tasks, such as maintaining food and shelter?
Do they have healthy or poor boundaries?
- Do they have a clear sense of what they are responsible for or do they blame others? (ie: their own thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and behaviors).
- Have you established your limitations on what is and is not acceptable? Are those limits respected?
- Do they respect or push your physical and emotional boundaries?
Is the person open and truthful?
- Are they evasive or vague about certain areas of their life? (For example, they do not like to talk about their faith, talk about if and how much alcohol they drink, address if they ever struggled with pornography, among others).
- Do they have a history of being unfaithful in relationships?
What are their views on sex?
- Do they see sex as something intimate between a man and a woman or are they open to including others and/or different genders?
How does the person handle anger and becoming upset?
- Are they loud, touchy, and/or aggressive?
- Is it typical for them to use expletives?
- Are they sarcastic and/or do they call you names?
- Do they listen to what you have to say, or does it not matter?
- Are they condescending or rude?
- Are they still gentle with their words?
- Are they willing to admit their faults and/or apologize?
Red flags are critical in determining whether or not to move forward in a relationship. They can help you to get to the root of who they really are. They can also heighten your awareness of whether or not you are entering into a toxic, dysfunctional, and/or abusive relationship. Take time to consider if you struggle in any of the areas above and consider getting help.
COMMITMENT AND FAITHFULNESS
Commitment is agreeing to the relationship and terms of it over a period of time. It can be comprised of honesty, trust, respect and appreciation. Commitment is not leaving emotionally, mentally, and physically when things get tough. For Christians in a dating and marital relationship, it means maintaining a monogamous relationship. It can also mean being willing to accept and work through the vulnerable sides of a person. How comfortable is vulnerability? When someone accepts you when you are able to be emotionally raw with them, it can provide a deeper level of trust and commitment. It can help you to feel safe and protected with your significant other. It is important to identify, “can I accept the good, bad, and ugly of my significant other?” This question will help to determine whether or not you can spend the rest of your life with this individual. Commitment to the dating relationship is key because it will let you know how committed they will be to the marriage. When the two of you are able to establish your relationship in God, you have a foundation in what your faithfulness and commitment will be.
Another key factor to consider is faithfulness. What is their idea of faithfulness in a relationship? When someone is faithful it means that they are going to stand by you for better or for worse. Being faithful shows that they are honest, loyal, and that they will do their best to not betray you in the relationship. When someone is faithful, it is easier to focus on the relationship and rely on them. It is important to identify when you both are in a committed relationship and when it starts. It is also important to establish what a faithful relationship entails. What is their view of faithfulness when the relationship gets tough? Some people feel that if things are not going right or their way in a relationship then they have the right to look elsewhere and/or have someone else on the side that will fulfill their needs. This is a hard question but an important question to ask. Some of these questions can be answered when discovering their relationship history. Faithfulness and commitment can aid in the longevity of the marriage because it will help you to stay committed to one another.
When thinking about “for better or for worse” or “for richer or for poorer”, are you willing to go through these kind of high and low points with this person you are pursuing? During the dating phase, infatuation will take place. Although this stage is common in a new relationship, it is important to focus and ask the hard questions. This will help you to determine if you can have a long term relationship with them. Religion red flags, commitment, and faithfulness are some important factors to consider when getting to know the person you are interested in. As you look closer into various factors, it will be easier to determine if this relationship will work. For many, longevity in a marriage is the goal. In order to achieve this you need to interview them to know if they are what you want. It is important to ask the hard questions because it can increase your chances for a successful future.