Boundaries: 5 Do’s and Don’ts in Dating
Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Natalie Albertson. She’s a masters student in English at Iowa State University, and she blogs at nataliealbertson.com. We love her emphasis on grace, balance, and moderation. – Lauren
Boundaries can be a wonderful thing. The boundary at the Grand Canyon, for example, that says, “Do not walk further, or you will fall and die” is a wonderful boundary. But boundaries can quickly become a focus on the negative: what I can’t do. Sometimes we try so hard not to “fall and die” that we forget to admire the Grand Canyon! Other times, we get so excited about the Grand Canyon that we take one step too far and…well…you know. Life requires balance. The world often looks for happiness through self-assertion, and the stoic looks for happiness through self-denial. Yet the good woman knows that self-fulfillment is found in self-abandonment. We set a boundary not just because we don’t want to do something – but because we do want to do something else.
Because of this truth, I’ve made a list of five do’s and don’ts of dating. These are things that God taught me through mistakes, and that’s the beauty of it.
1. DO: Look a man’s heart. DON’T: Hold men to a standard you don’t want to be held to.
When I was dating, the type of man I was looking for to be my husband had to have the spiritual maturity of my two youth group pastors at my home church. These men were 35 and 40, which means that I expected to find some poor 20-something year old man to have the wisdom, experiences, and knowledge of a man twice his age. Don’t hold your brothers-in-Christ to this type of standard. The most important thing to look for in a man is someone who DESIRES to be a good husband. It’s completely fine if he’s not there yet.
2. DO: Embrace chaos DON’T: Desire chaos.
Love can be chaotic and it’s almost always disorganized; love stories are even more so, because we have an idea of how things are “supposed to be”. I remember getting so scared that the man I was dating wasn’t “the one” because the things that happened in the movies were not happening to me. I never got butterflies when he walked into the room, there weren’t fireworks when we talked, and this made me think that we weren’t “in love”. Once I saw the movie “Love Comes Softly”, I slowly started to learn that love should feel like coming home and not like being on a rollercoaster. Rollercoasters are fun for a few minutes, but you don’t want to be on one for the rest of your life. Being grounded is good.
3. DO: Desire something better than momentary pleasure. DON’T: Get pregnant.
Never, ever, ever, never kiss. Because you will get pregnant, and then you will die. No, just kidding. But seriously, do take your physical life seriously. It can be a very slippery slope. The lines you should and should not cross will be different for everyone, but it’s important to seriously determine what you desire, communicate that to your significant other, and pursue that together.
4. DO: Look deeper. DON’T: Trust popularity.
Our culture tends to glorify a certain type of man that I want to warn you about. You know. The hot guy in high school. The athlete. Whoever the guy is at your school that’s getting all the attention from his surface level success. The reason I bring this up is that, as young women we want to date “popular” men. Let me remind you that many of these things are temporary, and years later? The popular guy in high school might not be the guy you want to date. Men change, and they change a lot. Just like we do. Don’t let culture inform your sense of a man’s worth or merit.
5. DO: Take comfort in God’s sovereignty DON’T: Settle.
Augustine once described “evil” as simply a reordering of goods, and marriage can quickly become this. Marriage–and dating for the sake of finding your spouse– is such a wonderful thing, but it’s not worthy of your worship. Don’t let marriage be an idol in your life. If you’re dating a man you shouldn’t be–and you’ll know if you are–let him go. Don’t settle. Trust that God is in this with you, and that he sees you.
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