All That Relationship Advice — A Mega-Post on Relationships

Multiple anonymous questions —

[As always, please feel free to skip around]

– Hi, PJ. I need your help on something. I feel very guilty of my feelings lately. I am interested in this boy, but I feel like I’m not supposed to. Like God doesn’t want me to. I want my eyes to be fixed on Jesus, yet I am wanting to also get to know this boy as much as I do Jesus. I’m not sure what to do? Are these feelings for this boy bad?… Friends have told me to not feel guilty because God made us to have feelings and it’s what makes us human.

Hey my friend, thanks for being so honest here.

Your friends are right that feelings are human and they’re not all bad.  But also: Having feelings does NOT mean you have to follow through with them.

You might feel like beating up your boss or driving through the guardrails, but thank God we don’t always do what we feel.

Instead, let’s back this up and ask some important questions.

Why do I want to be in a relationship with this boy?

What will happen if I follow through with this?

Am I even ready for anything like this?

Where are these feelings coming from?  Are they based in a mature understanding of relationships or a derivative pseudo-romance from some movies I watched?

Where did I learn my idea of relationships from?

What are your motives? Are you longing for this because you’re afraid of being alone? Or dislike being single? Or because this boy is cute in the face?

See: Most people do NOT get to the bottom of their feelings.  They just follow the latest, loudest emotion and run themselves into oblivion, and then repeat themselves without learning from the last season. Many of us have bought into paradigms about dating, sex, money, fame, and success without clearly thinking for ourselves.

I’m not saying you’ve done this. Actually, I believe you are smart and capable enough to reflect on these things and root out what’s right. You will discover some good motives and some messy ones; you’ll find out what’s really driving you. But it takes that confrontation with yourself first. So please go through your heart with prayer and deep reflection, and I think the bigger you see God’s power, purpose, and presence: the more you will gain perspective.

— J

– Hi, Pastor J! I’d like to say that I’ve been in good terms with a friend and he recently confessed his feelings for me. I told him that I felt the same way but we agreed not to go steady immediately; instead, develop our friendship first. It’s going well so far and we try our best to center God in our relationship. We go online to have Bible study every night, and comfort each other with the Word of God. Just wondering if you have any thoughts on how to make this a more fruitful relationship?

Hey my friend, while I’m certainly no expert on any of this, please allow me to re-iterate a few things I’ve said before over time.

– Many relationships are built on shallow insubstantial things.  Lots of fluff, no substance.  So dig deep on what matters to you and be willing to talk about important heavy issues, whether it’s about spirituality or the church or the human condition or how you see things.  Some of this will sound like venting and it could be awkward: but no one is designed for superficial living.  God made us to connect to a spiritual reality on a regular basis, and if you’re not having profound insightful discussions at least every week, both of you will stagnate.  Try it, and you will not only grow, but it’ll be more fun than you think.

– Share good books and good sermons together.  Use discernment for these too.

– Pray with the person you’re dating.  Find time for God together.  It’s always a little awkward at first, but break through those spiritual hang-ups and share your convictions.  Also: praying together does NOT mean you’re having “soul-sex.

– Know when to say no.  Draw clear boundaries.  Dudes: no always means no, even when it’s not spoken out loud.

Dating will look different for everyone.  There’s no “checklist” — because if there were, we instantly become Pharisees who ease our conscience with a mechanical set of rules.

Serve together.  Anywhere.

– Hang out with old couples to see what they’re like.

– Get to know each others’ parents.

Praise together.  Those are really the best times ever.

— J

– Hello Pastor Park, I’ve been following your blog for a while and I see Gods wisdom in your responses, I see his love in your words. I trust you with this question. There is a girl who I am interested in dating, we love each other, and we both believe in Jesus. However, I feel like I am more passionate about my faith than she is. It’s like we’re running the same race, but she’s running at a slower pace. Do you believe that this falls under the category of “unequally yoked”?

Hey my friend, I think I understand what you mean: but I would really try to define some of these things you’ve stated.

For example: What does it mean that you’re “more passionate” about your faith?  Do you sing louder at church?  Do you evangelize more?  Do you read more Christian books?  Do you say “Jesus” more on your Facebook?

Notice that none of these are prerequisites to be a believer.  You can have two people doing these things: but one could be dying inside.

Again, I understand what you mean and I feel your concern: but everyone’s faith will burn differently, whether it’s an explosive fireworks show or a smoldering campfire.  We need to make gracious room for both.

When you say this girl is at a “slower pace,” I just feel a very squicky aftertaste about this.  I can bet my left hand that she is more mature in certain areas than you (because she’s a girl and you’re a guy), and vice versa.  Unless she’s a criminal or prodigal, it’s hard to make a blanket judgment about our so-called spiritual level.  It’s true that there could be an unequal yoke, but unequal means she is purposefully choosing against God.  If this woman is pursuing after Jesus with her whole heart, that’s all you need to know.

If you really do care for her, then help her grow.  Please do NOT judge based on what you think she doesn’t have yet.  That’s an awful way to look at people.  Simply promote her as a human being and examine yourself before anyone else.

— J

– Hi pastor. i literally just realized that i actually don’t have any chance at all with the boy i’ve been in love with for nearly two years now. i’m trying to be okay with it, but everyone around me is just talking about how it’s for the better, that I’m young, that i don’t really know what love is. It just hurts so bad. I feel like I’ve been hit in the chest with a battering ram and I’m trying not to cry but I’m not doing too well.

I’m really sorry, my friend.

The bad new is that it will hurt for a while.  So let it hurt.  The pain will pass.  Some days it will relapse and come back with a cruel force: but let that pass too.  In time it gets easier.

But I’ll also add: You’ve now learned a few new things about yourself, and I hope you don’t dismiss them.  You’ve learned that making expectations for two years over a guy was probably not a good idea.  It could’ve shut your eyes to other guys or to God Himself.  It could’ve made this rejection much worse, so now you know that fixation is unhealthy and unwise.

You’ve learned that stuff like this happen and it’s not the end of the world, because here you are writing some random online blogger a message for some encouragement: and that already shows you’re doing better than you think.

You’ve learned that this did NOT happen because you did anything wrong or that you’re dumb or that you’re off with God — but because yes, you’re young, and being young means that the first time you feel something, you feel it with all the new fresh tender weight of youth.  In the amazing words of Taylor Swift: Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you / You’re gonna believe them

I hope you remember these things for next time.  I hope you don’t hype yourself up over a guy like that.  No guy in the universe could ever meet those expectations anyway.  And for now: Buy a pint of Haagen Dazs and go crazy on Netflix and dress up with your girls to get a hamburger.  Let this season pass.  Don’t let it make you worse.  Let it make you wiser.

— J

– I’ve liked this guy for a long time, & we’ve recently been talking about getting into a relationship. He’s pretty serious about it. However, a few months ago he told me that he didn’t consider himself a Christian anymore & that worries me a lot. I don’t want to just abandon him because he doesn’t believe, but at the same time it seems stupid to get into a serious relationship with someone with such different beliefs & values. We’re meeting to talk about it in 2 days & I don’t know what to do.

Hey my dear friend, please allow me the grace to point you to a previous post:

– About Dating a Non-Christian

My short answer is: Don’t do it.  Not because he’s not a Christian or anything, but because relationships are already hard enough.  People break up over even lesser things like Hobbit feet or unibrows, and if you’re making it hard on yourself in the area of what matters most to you, it will only get that much harder down the line.

— J

– Hellooo! I needed some help and clarity in my life. I’ve been in a relationship for over a year and he is a great guy. He supports me in whatever I do and is very reliable. I have talked to him recently about my relationship with God & asked him about his. He says he prays almost every night and goes to church for him but he’s not comfortable going to a Bible study, doesn’t know how to read his Bible, etc. How do I know if this relationship is a hindrance/where I’m suppose to be? thanks!

Hey my friend, I’m not sure if I have all the details here: But how about ask him why?  Ask him tons of questions.  Maybe there was a bad experience.  Maybe he’s intimidated by the Bible because no one ever helped him make it clear.  Maybe he’s misinformed about God.  Hear him out.

If he gives you a lot of excuses, you’ll know where his heart is.  If he tells you he really does want to learn despite his bad past experiences, that’s a good thing. Either way, you’ll have a better idea of what to decide then.

It could be an awkward, stilted, clumsy conversation — but if you’re considering sharing a life with this guy, this is important to know for both of you.  Get honest.

— J

– How early in a relationship should you let a significant other know about your issues with lust or other nagging sins? I feel like it’d be a lot to dump on them at the start of a relationship, like “OH wait i also have all this hidden baggage that i carry and Christ helps me carry it but sometimes i try to take too much of it myself.” I guess when is it appropriate to let them know about these things?

Hey my friend: Since good relationships are built on honesty and truth, then these kinds of issues will naturally be brought up early.  If it’s built on a fun-filled fantasy of physical goodies — then of course, it won’t ever come out.

On that same note, a good relationship will be willing to endure through a person’s past into the future.  My girlfriend has a very clean past, while mine is completely exploded and upside-down.  But she has been supernaturally gracious to deal with all my hang-ups and anxieties and anger issues because we’ve built on a solid ground of trust and truth.  And it turns out: having a clean past doesn’t make anyone perfect, either.

The truth is that we all have some kind of deal.  If someone hears about it and runs: that’s on them.  I don’t mean that in a mean way.  There’s some weird stuff that I would run from too.  But if you hide it too long, then both people won’t have a correct estimation of what they’re getting into, and both will be ill-prepared for the future.  So start this early.  If you both connect, it will happen almost all by itself.

— J.S.

My book on sex, dating, and relationships here!

One thought on “All That Relationship Advice — A Mega-Post on Relationships

  1. i never thought i could hold martin close to my heart again, i met martin when i was in high school and after that he proposed to me and get married and we have a son, few months after Chris was born martin started acting strange, he now went out at night come back late get drunk smelling cigarette and whenever i try to talk him off this things he shouted at me and made me cry, i went to Martin parents house and told them what has happened to Martin and his parents called him and talk to him on his return to the house he quarred me that i have no right to question his life style that right now this very moment he has to leave me and Chris alone i though he was joking before i knew it he takes some of his things and went away i called his cell phone and at first he was responding and at times goes on he never wanted to talk to me whenever i called he keep busy my calls or answer and shout things like leave me alone. i was on facebook chatting with a friend of mine ciara he introduce me to Dr Isaac and i contacted him today Martin is back to me and my kid and am very much happy and pleased with the way things turn out for good. contact him today he is indeed a God sent
    Sharon Martin, North London.


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