14 Ways to Date without the Stress of “Falling in Love”
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 30 Dec
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Caleb Breakey’s new book Dating Like Airplanes (Harvest House Publishers, 2014).
Dating doesn’t have to involve the heartache that goes along with our culture’s process of “falling in love,” which sends you on an out-of-control romantic journey that too often ends with a crash. There’s a better way to date: flying rather than falling. Flying involves relying on Jesus to help you navigate dating, so you can enjoy a peaceful, graceful journey. Here’s how you can do so:
Shift your focus from wanting to giving. When you’re falling in love, your attention is consumed by what you want from the person you’re dating. But when you’re dating gracefully, you’re focused primarily on giving your boyfriend or girlfriend what’s needed most in your relationship: Jesus’ love. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help to focus your attention on giving, with the confidence that when you do, you’ll end up getting more of what’s truly best for you and your date in the relationship.
Recognize the benefits of “flying” versus “falling.” The many benefits of relying on Jesus to help you navigate dating rather than just “falling in love” include: going into the relationship with a good purpose, growing to become a stronger person as you date, embracing true love instead of its imposters (like infatuation), helping you flee from dangerous sexual immorality, developing trust and respect with the person you’re dating, learning how to take risks in healthy ways, and building a foundation that can support a successful marriage if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend eventually marry.
Pursue selflessness. The more you can love the person you’re dating as Jesus loves him or her, the healthier your relationship will be. Jesus loves selflessly. Rather than worrying about what you can get out of the relationship, focus on what you can give to your boyfriend or girlfriend to make him or her feel safe, loved, and cared for by you.
Be vulnerable. Reveal the unvarnished truth about yourself to the person you’re dating. Hang out together in a variety of different situations so you can get a fuller perspective on each other’s attitudes and actions in different aspects of life. Openly discuss your past, present, and hopes for the future. Be honest about your shortcomings as a person right now and how you’re relying on Jesus to help you grow. The more open and honest you both are with each other, the stronger your relationship can become.
Approach your relationship as part of God’s transcendent plan. Keep in mind that true romantic love between people is sacred – it’s meant to reflect God’s love, which goes far above and beyond our fallen world’s limited concept of romantic love. Aim to do much more than just enjoy time with someone to whom you’re attracted; aim to figure out while dating if this person may be the one you marry.
Break up when necessary. If the person you’re dating is pulling you farther away from Jesus rather than inspiring you to grow closer to Jesus, you should break up with him or her. As difficult as it can be to end a romantic relationship, it’s the most loving action to take if it becomes clear that your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t fully committed to following Jesus in your relationship.
Love Jesus more than the person you’re dating. Since Jesus is the essence of love, you must love Jesus more than your boyfriend or girlfriend in order to impart true love to him or her. Jesus’ love will flow through you to reach the person you’re dating when you’re in love with Jesus first. Don’t let your boyfriend or girlfriend idolize you, and don’t idolize him or her. Instead, pursue closer relationships with Jesus together, and in the process Jesus will draw you closer to each other.
Live connected the Holy Spirit. Every day, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide and empower you. Then pay attention to the Spirit’s messages and obey them. The more intimately connected you become to the Spirit, the more you can build a healthy dating relationship that reflects true love.
Invite other people into your dating relationship. Choose some family and friends you trust to help encourage you and hold you accountable in your dating relationship. Give them permission to speak to you about what they’re observing from their perspectives about your relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend, and prayerfully consider their input.
Control your sexual urges. Set boundaries to exercise self-control with your sexuality to guard your heart (and your date’s heart). Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help every day to remain sexually pure. Respond wisely to alarms in your conscience letting you know when you’re in danger of going too far.
Harness your tongue. Be careful about how much you talk to the person you’re dating about topics that involve deep emotion; do so only when you’re close enough to share on deeper levels as you progress toward marriage.
Delight in the differences between you and your boyfriend or girlfriend. Accept the differences between how God has created both of you, and ask God to use them to change you both for the better. Look for ways that you can complement each other to become more like Jesus and strengthen the love between you.
Develop trust and respect between you through soul scanning. This is a process of gradually and appropriately opening up to each other about each of your interests, goals, habits, values, beliefs, life vision, and mistakes. As you grow closer to the person you’re dating, look deeper into each other’s souls and seek more discernment about whether or not you should get married.
Point to Jesus in your dating relationship. Aim to date in ways that show other people what Jesus’ love looks like in action. Some ways you and your boyfriend or girlfriend can point to Jesus include: loving strangers, being interrupt-able, taking risks, exuding humility, being authentic and kind, praying together, keeping God’s commandments, serving people in need together, forgiving people who hurt you, living with honesty and integrity, and giving thanks regularly for God’s blessings.
Adapted from Dating Like Airplanes, copyright 2014 by Caleb Jennings Breakey. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Caleb Breakey is a former journalist and author of Called to Stay. He is a frequent conference speaker with a sincere passion to lead, challenge, and inspire others in discussions about relationships, the church, and radically following Jesus. Caleb lives in Washington State with his wife, Brittney.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, produces a site about angels and miracles for About.com. She is author of the inspirational novel Dream Factory (which is set during Hollywood's golden age) and writes about the power of thoughts on her “Renewing Your Mind” blog.
Publication date: December 30, 2014