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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.

Photo by Carli Wentworth

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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26 Responses

  1. leeleegirl4

    God does most certainly see me where I am and He is good.

    April 18, 2012 at 7:56 am

  2. #1 is good! I normally dislike lists on how to date, but I appreciate these because, let's face it, it's easy to have unrealistic expectations for a future spouse! I learned this from a good friend who would always ask me how my heart was. It is important–most important!

    April 18, 2012 at 10:15 am

  3. This is precisely where I'm at: " 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."

    April 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm

  4. Joy

    "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."
    This is how I feel, but I'm too scared to let go. It's a lot harder said than done when you really care for someone, he's a godly guy, has his head on straight, but you just feel like he's not the right one. Timing couldn't be any worse as I'm a college student with a crazy schedule, and he, being 3 years older than me, is in the same boat. I know that God is sovereign, I know that I can trust Him to hold my heart in this hard time, but it sure is difficult to take that first step in faith. The past several months have been full of questioning why the Lord would bring such a wonderful man into my life, and then give me feelings of uncertainty as to whether this is the right timing for us. Prayer for wisdom, discernment and words would be much appreciated in this time! Thanks so much for sharing.

    April 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

  5. nataliealbertson

    Never worry about doubt and uncertainty. When you need to start worrying is when you just don't care anymore. Stay in the word, sister! A solution will come.

    April 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm

  6. Janine

    Love the Augustine reference at the end – the improper ordering of good things is a extremely relevant to this topic! Thanks for the great post!

    April 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm

  7. I took the part about never ever ever kiss seriously as I read it. I was relieved when I realized it was a joke. Funny.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:11 am

  8. Because you will get pregnant, and then you will die.HAHA

    nice post

    April 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

  9. hanloveyoon

    This was great and really funny. I especially liked the first DO and DONT

    April 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm

  10. Nicola

    Yes yes yes to no.2! I have been with the same boy (well, he’s now a man!) since I was 15 – six and a half years. More recently some of my dearest friends have begun relationships with great guys, and sometimes I find myself feeling a bit jealous because they are in that dizzy crazy-about-each-other phase where they just can’t get enough of each other, are ridiculously romantic etc. But the more I think about it, the more I realise that isn’t what I want most in my relationship anymore – my boyfriend has made me who I am, and we’ve grown into adults together, which is much more important in the long term. Coming home instead of rollercoaster all the way!

    April 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm

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  14. I really love what is being pointed out about not expecting a guy to be at a level he just isn't. That does not mean to compromise standards but to be gracious.

    February 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm

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