In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, dating has become a complex and intimidating endeavor. We find ourselves navigating a landscape marked by hookup culture, dating apps, societal pressures, and personal insecurities.
While it's easier than ever to find a date, it often feels more complicated than ever before. Many of us have entered into relationships without a clear sense of intention, unsure of what we're truly seeking in a partner. How do we know if we’re wasting our time on someone who won’t complete us?
The good news is that in Christ – you don’t need a romantic partner, or even a spouse, in order to be complete. Oftentimes we put pressure on others to do what only Jesus can do for us. People cannot fulfill us or give us purpose in life. The reality is that Jesus is the one who makes us complete (Colossians 2:10).
This means that, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you need to approach relationships differently. Instead of looking for completion, which you already have, you’re looking for a companion.
So how do we figure out who will be a good companion to walk alongside us?
5 ways to know if you’re dating the right person
In the book of 1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes about the kind of character Jesus will form in the people who follow him. While he isn’t talking specifically about dating, this list outlines traits that anyone would desire in a companion!
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 If you want to be intentional in dating, these are the five areas you should evaluate in someone’s life that you’re thinking about dating:
1. Their words
2. Their character
3. What they love
4. Their beliefs
5. Their purity
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to gain more clarity about a potential partner – and what you’re looking for in one:
Do their words build up or tear down?
Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that "the tongue can bring death or life." Our words possess the power to heal or hurt, to build up or tear down.
Pay attention to how a potential companion talks about others, and whether they are honest in their communication. Do they engage in gossip or speak negatively about people behind their backs? A person's words can reveal their character and how they treat others.
Do they act the same in private as they do in public?
Integrity means being authentic and true to oneself, regardless of the circumstances or audience. Do they exhibit consistent behavior, values, and principles across different settings?
A great test is to observe how they treat people who can’t do anything for them – like a checkout clerk or a waiter at a restaurant. Are they patient and polite, or are they rude and inconsiderate?
You’ll also want to watch how your potential partner handles stressors like loss or failure. How do they bounce back from setbacks and handle the difficult emotions they bring? In other words, what comes out when they’re squeezed? Their response in these circumstances can be very revealing about their character.
What do they give their time, energy, and resources to?
It's important to consider a person’s priorities and passions, as they can demonstrate (or disprove) a genuine love for God and for people.
Do they use their time, energy, and resources to demonstrate care for other people? Do they make it a priority to seek God and his guidance in their life?
Ultimately, as a follower of Christ, you want someone who will love God more than they love you – because their love for God will inform and fuel the way they show love to you. It will motivate them to serve, honor, and sacrifice for you.
What do they believe?
The Apostle Paul's wisdom in 2 Corinthians 6:14 about “teaming up” with someone who doesn’t share your faith serves as a valuable guide in dating.
Just as two oxen need to walk in the same direction when yoked together, a successful relationship requires alignment in faith and values. While we can influence others toward a relationship with Christ, it can be risky to try to accomplish this in a romantic relationship. You don’t need to date someone to point them to Jesus.
At the end of the day, if you and your potential partner have differing beliefs and priorities, you may find yourselves pulling in opposite directions, hindering personal and spiritual growth.
Do they filter what they take in?
Think about a water filter: when you pour liquid into it, what comes out on the other side is more pure than what was poured in. Similarly, you want to be sure the person you’re dating has a filter for the things they consume in life.
Do they make conscious choices to avoid things that don't help them honor others or God? While no one is perfect, the key is to determine whether they are actively striving to align their choices with their values and beliefs.
Bonus question: am I becoming the companion I hope to have one day?
This question is relevant to everyone, regardless of relationship status. Is your speech, your character, your love, your faith, and your purity being shaped more into the image of Christ as you follow him more closely?
Allow Jesus to shape you into a person who speaks life-giving words, has godly character, loves God and people, has deepening faith, and pursues purity in your life. If you do that, you win. It may not be a relationship, but you will win something so much greater – you will be shaped more into the image of Jesus Christ.
In the world of modern dating, it's crucial to approach relationships with intentionality. Instead of seeking completion in someone else, look for companionship with a person who shares your values, faith, and life direction. By evaluating these five key areas and focusing on personal growth, you can navigate the dating landscape with purpose and find a partner who complements your journey rather than defines it.
Ultimately, when we find our ultimate fulfillment in God's love, we won't place unrealistic expectations on others to provide what only Jesus can offer. Dating differently, with intention, can lead to more meaningful and fulfilling relationships.
In life, relationships matter. We’d love to share some resources to help you have better relationships with others – whether you’re dating, friends, or family:
10 Signs it’s Time to Break Up
How to Meet People in Your Early 20s
What Distinguishes Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!