We’ve shared with you plenty on chastity, intentionality, and love. Chastity is challenging. It’s a test of the heart and will. Chastity challenges the love we feel for the person we’re in a relationship with and reveals the depths of that love. It requires real inner strength on both sides, but in its challenges, chastity teaches us how to love well. It helps build happy, successful relationships. Of course, in today’s hook-up culture, it is hard to navigate relationships. Most relationships nowadays begin with months of texting prior to making it official or going on a date. There is a way to communicate well through the phone but unfortunately, it’s more often used as a lazy, risk-free way getting to know someone. While in today’s dating culture we see this widespread fear of commitment, intentionality speaks the love of God to another. If this is your first time hearing of intentionality in relationships, I suggest you first check out this blog post on the topic before going any further. Today, though, I wanted to focus on what intentionality looks like in dating relationships. As I said earlier, intentionality speaks the love of God. It communicates God’s love differently according to each relationship. So what are some practical ways we can be more intentional with others whether being pursued by or pursuing another romantically?
Dating should bring joy and excitement! Of course, it’s not always going to work out. But intentionality in relationships is such a beautiful thing. Intentional pursuit says ‘the possibility of being with you is worth the risk of being rejected by you’. You don’t have to have everything figured out with the other person before you start dating them – that’s what dating is for. Going on dates provides the opportunity for the two of you to spend time with each other, just the two of you. This allows you to get to know the person authentically. While texting may provide the opportunity for miscommunication, taking the time to go on a real date pushes of all of that aside and you can really get to know this person. Being intentional is what it sounds like, it’s taking the opportunity to show another person your intentions. If you intend to get to know someone or love someone, actions speak louder than words. You should be speaking love to this person in your pursuit of them.
Some Practical Steps
Where possible, ask them out face-to-face. This is the best way to ask someone out because it is where there is most risk involved. In this, you show them how much they mean to you and that you think the possibility of dating them is worth the risk of being rejected. Also, for it to be a date, you must use the word ‘date’. You cannot take someone on a date without their knowledge or consent. Nothing is more frustrating than having to ask ‘What is this?’ to the person you think you’re hanging out with as a friend when they have other intentions that they haven’t made clear. Women have more respect for men who ask them out face to face, even if they do decline the invitation. They also feel more appreciated and respected when a man makes the effort to push past their fears in pursuit of them.
If you ask, you pay; you asked them out, you should be able to afford the date. You should never expect the person that you take out to pay for their half. If they wish to offer, that is up to you whether you accept that or not. If you’re a woman reading this and a man offers to take you on a date, let him pay. Please do not insist on paying for your half if he wishes to provide for you. It is man’s duty, desire, and nature to provide. Allow that to begin in your dating relationship. Dating is the pursuit of a potential lifelong relationship. If you are hoping to be married someday, believe it or not, it is small things like letting him pay that prepare your heart to be ready for someone to provide for it for the rest of your life.
Don’t worry – it’s just coffee! It’s just creating a space where the two of you can get to know each other. On the other first date keep it simple. I would suggest two hours at most. We love to just things continue for hours on end and have every possible conversation in one evening. Keep it simple and save some of those conversations for the next date. Coffee can make for a great first date – provided you call it a date! It’s an easy setting that isn’t half as daunting as dinner when you’re trying to make a first impression.
The length of time you date one person before entering a relationship may depend on how long you knew the person before dating them. I would recommend a maximum of three months before making it official. I say maximum because you could know much sooner but after that, if you are still unsure then it’s probably not the relationship for you.
You may be on the receiving end of someone pursuing you. Here are some things you can keep in mind while navigating relationships;
If someone wants to pursue you, they will. You deserve someone who sees your worth and if they do, they will intentionally pursue you. You deserve clarity. Someone who cares about you won’t drag things out and confuse you, they will make it evident how much they mean to you. You are worth more than the person’s fear of rejection, you are worth the risk of being pursued.
If someone does ask you out, always maintain an attitude of gratitude. Whether you accept them or reject them, they should always be treated with love and respect. Understand that it can be daunting to ask someone out and thank them for stepping out of their comfort zone and being honest with you about their intentions.
In the Meantime
‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10).
Remember that chastity is first cultivated within us in our period of singleness. And we all need that ‘alone time’ with God before we encounter another. We see this in the creation story. First, God made Adam. How long must he have been waiting and searching before God made Eve? Then when God made Eve, Adam was in a deep sleep. God allowed Adam and Eve to have individual time with Him before meeting one another. In this God shows that the relationship we have with Him comes first, He knows us better than any other person ever could, including ourselves. So give God time. If you’re not dating now, don’t be in a rush to do so. He knows what’s best for you and He works all things for good. Appreciate what He is doing in your life at this very moment and enjoy that time of solitude. Let God have your full attention. If you are called to marriage then this is all preparation. Appreciate your time of singleness, you’ll be grateful for it later. Do not doubt that He will fulfil your desires for a relationship. He died to have a relationship with you. He will not have you settle for less than the love you were created for in a romantic relationship. Allow the glory of who He is and His wonderful love for you to be your fulfilment. It is only when we do this that we find ourselves ready to love another. He created that desire for a reason, so be patient with the time that God takes in moving another person’s heart in your direction.
There’s so much more that could be said on the topic, and there are others who could say it much better than I. If you’re interested in hearing more, I highly recommend checking out Emily Wilson or Jason Evert. They both have so much that can really help people learn to date well.