What do you look for in a future partner/spouse? I ask because I really have trouble with this. I am a female, but even if I find a Godly male I worry that it is going to damage in my relationship with God, opposed to good. Probably because I’ve been in a idolatrous relationship where the other ended up poorly influencing me, instead of the other way around. I also seem to miss out on warning signs.
I understand the sensitivity of your question and you are asking out of good curious motives (most likely), but I absolutely abhor the Wishlist type of thinking that has pervaded modern dating. Even —gasp!— in our churches.
I once had a Wishlist and aimed to fulfill it. I was attracted to loud, aggressive, hot, fiery, dominant. Seven dead relationships later with plenty of heartbreak and nightmare scenarios, I realized the stupidity of looking for a “type.” Like Tim Keller says, since people change, “you always end up marrying the wrong one” anyway. When you find a type and hope the type will last, it’s never a stable guarantee. People have major life changes approximately every seven years.
Certainly there is room for physical attraction, common goals, and spiritual compatibility. But your main concern right now should be you. As I once heard Francis Chan say, if your future spouse becomes your air supply to meet your needs (instead of God being the air supply), you will both kill each other. God must be your first lover and foundation. Those who are ready for marriage are the ones who need it least.
It is very possible that the idolatry you entered was not entirely your fault, since many men are stupid, brash, act-tough-to-cover-shortcomings, and usually date a girl to fulfill their selfish hormonal desires. But it’s also possible that men became the filler for your walk with God, so that dating simply revealed what was already in your heart, or what was not there at all.
To answer your question more specifically, make friends first. Your really good friends of the same sex were discovered and not found (truth by C.S. Lewis). In other words, you didn’t have to force it and there was a reasonable pace on your journey to being friends. With romance we tend to go so fast that we skip a billion important steps of growth and that’s when damage happens.
When you find that guy-friend who doesn’t fake it, isn’t trying to impress you, and is helping you walk with God instead of helping you drown — just like a real friend does — then consider a cup of coffee. Don’t rush, do have a good time, and don’t ever be afraid to tell him no.
Originally posted on my Tumblr.