So you find yourself ready to date again, but you are feeling a little rusty about stepping in again. Perhaps it has been quite some time since you have been on the dating scene. You may be curious about what dating will entail and where you can meet people, but do not worry; this is where the fun begins! Give yourself grace as you ease back into dating, take things slowly and be mindful of the risks to care for your safety. Choose not to rush so you can make wise decisions about the next season of your life. It is scary to let our guard down and be open to finding love again, but God will help you through this and every season of life.
Commit the dating process to God, so that you are following God’s heart for you and not rushing into relationships that may not be healthy for you. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Make a list of qualities that you're looking for, and stick to it. Make sure you pray before going on any new dates, and be open to hearing from the Holy Spirit as well hearing concerns expressed by friends and family.
It is important to be thoughtful about the qualities that you are looking for in a potential partner. Christians today may feel pressured to downplay their faith when meeting new people, but it is important to keep in mind that God should be at the center of any healthy relationship, and if a potential partner does not share your beliefs, they are not a good fit.
Compile your list of qualities that are important to you, beginning with someone who loves God and guides you to be more like Jesus. Consider what qualities are essential like honesty and kindness. It is critical to have a clear sense of what qualities you are looking for in a potential relationship or future partner, as well as knowing your boundaries and which ones you can or cannot compromise on. Once you know what qualities you are seeking you can discern the best place to find a potential partner.
People who are single, have children, or simply want to get back into the dating scene may want to consider going on dates with other people in public places or at the homes of friends or family members for activities such as a barbeque or a nice dinner. Before you start dating someone new, you should inform your friends and family that you are ready to try love again. You also have the option of letting those you care about and those who are particularly close to you know that you are now open to romantic possibilities. Let your friends know what it is you're looking for in a partner. You do not have to tell everyone that you want to start dating again; instead, tell a few close friends and ask if any of them know anyone who might be a good match for you.
Trying something new, like a new hobby or sport, or volunteering your time to help those in need in your community or through your church, is a great way to expand your social circle and make new friends. Participating in activities you enjoy such as signing up for a cooking class, becoming a member of a local club or organization such as the public library, or signing up for an activity at a recreation center are all ways to make friends with those who have interests that are compatible with your own. It is great to meet someone who shares your interests and values—not just in God but in other areas of life as well, such as a preferred pastime or type of literature.
It may be more challenging for some people such as single parents to find time to make connections and it may benefit them to consider an online or social network option. Choose a dating service focused on finding long term connections not one night stands. Consider a faith based app or use one that allows you to filter profiles to connect with people of faith to avoid getting connected with someone who doesn’t pursue your core beliefs. Use integrity as you fill out your profile and share honestly what you are looking for in a partner.
In order to be safe online, it’s best to do your homework before creating a profile on a dating website; if anything seems fishy, such as a request for money or an overly intimate display of affection, report the incident to the site's administrators; and practice general caution when it comes to online dating.
If you do end up meeting someone online or going out with someone you met at a friend's house, go somewhere public. Until you know your date well, choose public spaces, make sure a friend knows your plans, and share your location over your phone with a trusted friend. Perhaps have a friend text or call to check in on your date. Be sure that you always have your purse on you, with enough money to take a cab or Uber home. Go out at reasonable hours of the day or evening to care for your safety.
If you ever feel uncomfortable on a date, just be honest with the person in a polite manner and end the date. This will help reduce the risk of you getting into an unsafe situation. Do not let a bad experience dissuade you from dating; just learn from the experience. A poor date can give you a clear idea of what you are looking for in a new potential partner and what you want to avoid. God is with us in our difficulties, and he can help us both avoid disastrous blind dates and recognize the important relationships he has placed in our lives.
Not everyone will find love in a new long-term relationship, and that is fine too; sometimes exploration is God's way of revealing his will for our lives. It is possible that getting more involved with your church or community or picking up a hobby, could actually be part of God's larger plan for your life. There may be friendships forged that are built that bring blessing to your life. There may be some area in which your gifts from God need to be used to assist in the furtherance of the kingdom of Christ.
While not every date will lead to a lasting love interest, there are many spiritual and emotional benefits to venturing out. You can stretch yourself by experiencing something new such as a play, sporting event, or church gathering. When we meet someone, because we are focused on finding a positive match, we often have a way of ignoring aspects of that person that we find problematic or do not agree with. Be honest in your assessment of the positive and negative. If something is not right, we need to be willing to look at it carefully to avoid sweeping trouble under a rug.
As you begin the process of dating again and falling in love, take heart in the fact that the Holy Spirit will direct you in learning what love is again.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
When we use this biblical passage as a model for our lives, we can discover an abundance of love in our relationships. If we live our lives according to these verses, the gracious love of Jesus will shine through us. God’s love flowing through your life may attract a new partner and help you love your family and friends in a new way.
It is natural to question your own love and commitment skills after a failed marriage, but turning to God for help can restore your faith in humankind and show you how to love others and yourself the way God loves us. Likewise, if you recently lost your spouse and are having trouble imagining yourself in a romantic relationship again, know that God is with you (Matthew 28:20).
From the scriptures, we know that Jesus desires for us to experience joy and to have a life rich in blessings, and he longs for you to have a relationship with him regardless of what transpired in your previous union. God has been with you the whole time, and if you open up and allow him to help, he will be there through these next steps of your life.
A first step in the process of finding love is to first learn to love yourself the way that God loves you. The best part of trusting in the Lord through the ups and downs of this journey is that he will help you become the best version of yourself if you listen to his voice and guidance, prioritize your relationship with him, and put him first. Be patient and trust that God has a plan for your life while you wait for love to find its way to you.
Rev. Deb Koster
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra