Since it's February and Valentines day is just next week I thought it be great to talk about all the things on DATING. Five years of dating the SAME guy and I still learn something new about him every week. We have dated in times of joy and then suffered in times of pain and frustration with each other. Dating is hard. Being in a committed relationship is work. I'm writing this to the people out their who have no clue about what to do or not do when you start actually dating someone. And guess what? That is totally okay.
Wyatt and I started dating my sophomore year and his freshmen year in high school. Literally, we were babies. I was sooo unexperienced in the long term relationship department. As we began our relationship, suddenly I realized there are a lot of things I needed to work on. Looking back I was quick to be jealous of anyone, we lacked good communication, and we were both two stubborn kids who wanted to be "right". Through this journey, there has been so much growth and work put into our relationship. Let me give you some of the best ways to be AWESOME for your person and to show up for them while dating. Whether you've been dating for three months or eight years, these tips will help you grow your relationship in so many super duper awesome ways!
The Don't: Do not tear down your partner, especially in front of their friends.
The Do: Do lift them up, encourage them, praise them for accomplishments especially in front of their friends
This "Don't" has been an area of struggle in our relationship for me. Honestly, it's my pride. If I seem intimidated or questioned in a situation I get very defensive. I like to make sure everyone knows I'm rock solid on my own and "I don't need a man". If Wyatt does something really annoying, I would overreact. Instead of just relaxing and being his friend, I would get so frustrated and it would eventually start an argument When I overreact, Wyatt takes the blow emotionally. Instead of choosing to lift him up, I am negatively pulling him down. Choose to do the opposite, lift your partner up. If you don't like something they are doing in public, wait and tell them when it's just you two. There is no need for me to complain about Wyatt smacking his food while around his friends. And please if you take anything from this, don't mention a big problem in front of a group of his friends. There is a time and place for everything, be thoughtful. Choose to be respectful, you do not always have to be right or have the last word.
The Don't: Do not expect your partner to be perfect or to fill all the gaps in your soul.
The Do: Do keep your partner accountable, raise the bar, challenge them
I am not saying do not set the bar high. Make that list of your dream spouse. But remember we are all human here. Humans are very imperfect, we fail a lot. When you expect perfection out of your partner they will fall short every time, because they are simply human. Disappointments will come but so does the opportunity for grace. Compassion is required to have a successful relationship. Being compassionate towards your person, reminds you that they have faults and so do you.
The "Do" is to keep your partner accountable for their actions. Push them to be their best selves. Be there cheerleader and motivator in all the things they do.
The Don't: Do not be joined at the hip, it's not healthy
The Do: Do remember it's okay to be individual people & do your own thing
I didn't understand this until Wyatt and I started dating long distance. We were so very involved in each others lives, which isn't a bad thing but in my case God knew we needed the time physically a part. These past three years dating long distance has helped us grow individually in ways we wouldn't have if we would've been together. Because of the distance, our relationship has become stronger in leaps and bounds. Friend, I'm giving you permission (in a dating relationship) to be an individual. I'm someone who puts others needs before myself and I am quick to do that in a relationship, excessively. I've learned to have a life separate from Wyatt's, because of being at two different colleges. Let your partner have a guys/girls weekend with there friends. I say "let" because I personally have gotten upset when Wyatt chose a weekend with the guys over a weekend with me. And that is ok. You need to give your person room to hang out separate from you. You need to give yourself a planned weekend with friends a part from him/her.
4. THE PROCESS
The Don't: Do not rush your relationship (the process)
The Do: Do remember there is a season for everything
I am a big planner, if you didn't know already. When Wyatt and I started to get pretty serious I had already had the five year plan set up. Where we would go to college, when we would be engaged and how long it would be until we were married. Yes, its crazy but I know of so many girls who have their wedding Pinterest board up and ready to go at ANY MOMENT. Having a plan isn't bad, but it isn't always realistic. Life is constantly changing and it is very unpredictable. Trust me, it is okay to not worry about your five year plan. Who knows where you will be in five years? God does. Trust him. Enjoy the season you are in now. Wyatt and I love being able to just hang out on the weekends and go on random dates. I am choosing to embrace this season of dating. Seriously, Wyatt and I will probably be dating three more years, due to his football career and that is OK. Just love where you are now, be spontaneous, & enjoy the dating season.
5. WHO COMES FIRST
The Don't: Do not put your partner above your relationship with God
The Do: Do keep God first in your life, all other relationships will fall into place
This is the biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone who is dating or considering dating. Do not fall into the trap that this person can full fill your every need or solve all your problems. Jesus is the perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:1-3). No other human can fully complete you like he can. Trust me, I've been there. I've set such unrealistic expectations for Wyatt and expected him to completely understand me, when he could not. Again, he is human. When you put Jesus in first place in your heart, that is when you will be fully filled. Wyatt loves me, I love him but Jesus loves us infinitely more than we could ever express to each other. In a dating relationship this is crucial to understand and prioritize Jesus above all else. Let's be real, dating leads to marriage and if you bring the mindset into a marriage that "this person is your everything" you will be disappointed when they fail to meet your every emotional, spiritual need. Put Jesus first, always.
Again, being committed to someone isn't easy. It takes communication, work from both sides, practice, patience and compassion. I hope you can apply these tips in your current dating relationship or a potential one. Also, when entering a dating relationship, pray before you date that person. God made it very clear to me when I was evaluating, literally analyzing, dating Wyatt. Prayer is a key part in this process. Listen to what God is telling you about dating. He really does know best.