It was the perfect setting for a romantic dinner … a dimly-lit restaurant, heaping plates of pasta, soft music playing in the background … but my boyfriend had not been the one to ask me out. Sitting across from me at our table for two was one of my closest female friends, someone I had grown up in church with and roomed with in college.
She had invited me to dinner with one purpose in mind: to talk about my new relationship. Over the course of the evening she shared her concerns about my sudden “disappearance” since I had begun dating and how wrapped up I had become with my boyfriend. With each bite of my meal, I grew more and more defensive and uncomfortable as I listened to her. Admittedly, it was not an easy message for me to receive because I knew her words were true. I had become very emotionally attached to my boyfriend and chose to spend all of my free time with him. He had become my number one priority, at the expense of my other friendships.
With this being my first dating relationship, I needed my friends’ input more than ever. However, instead of seeking them out for support, I had shut them out. Thankfully, my friend cared enough to speak up and help redirect my relationship onto a healthier path.
The dating world is a difficult arena to navigate, which is all the more reason why we cannot go about it alone. Relationships require a lot of work and guidance in order to thrive, and most of all, to honor God. Those who are dating need feedback from others who have been there before, especially those who have made it into the next phase of marriage.
For those of us in the latter camp, what can we do to help those in the former?
Here are three suggestions on how to support your dating friends.
1. Invest. Choose to spend time with your dating friends. Go on double dates and get to know their significant others better. Ask them how they are doing and how you and your spouse can support them.
“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
2. Intervene. Observe your friends’ relationships. Should you see any red flags, pray and ask God for wisdom about these concerns. Bring these issues up with your friends and speak the truth in love. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Be a faithful friend regardless of how they respond to your confrontation. (Please note: For serious matters, such as abuse or violence, do help your friends seek professional intervention.)
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:5-6 (NIV)
3. Inspire. Listen well to your dating friends when they share about their struggles. Humbly share about what helped you and your spouse when you were dating, for example in the areas of communication, conflict or sexual temptation. Recommend books which have helped you grow in your relationship. Be a sounding board should they have questions about marriage. Pray with and for your friends.
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9 (NIV)
Consider the friends in your life who are dating and how you may have a positive impact on their relationships. Invest your time, intervene in love and inspire them with your own experiences. Bless your dating friends by being a resource and support that you and your spouse wish you had (or perhaps did have) during your dating years.
For those of you reading this article who are dating or engaged, do know that just as it is not good for man (and woman) to be alone, it is also not good for dating couples to journey alone. Take the initiative to seek out married couples in your church community to learn from and grow with.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
Photo Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo