Dating in Community Is Risky Part 3 of 3

31 May

WHY RISKY?: So why is dating in community risky? Because people can get hurt and often do. Initial friendships can turn romantic and then either lead to a great relationship or sometimes to awkwardness. Two friends who have known one another in a friend context for years can decide to date and then it doesn’t work out. But here’s the deal: Dating in general is risky. It just is. But name one thing worthwhile that does not have some sort of risk associated with it?

One of the reasons it’s risky to date within a community is because it requires a level of self-control and maturity along with it. What do I mean? Well, when one dates in community, one needs a little bit of discernment to know when to share and when to hold back with other members of the community.  People talk. But just because people talk does not mean we should not take the risk and try dating one another to see if there is a good fit. It just means that we need to know when to share with others in our community and when to keep our mouths shut while we figure it out.

I mentioned before that I believe involving community while you date is very important.  I am fortunate enough to have pastors, friends, married people, counselors, and others within my community and beyond helping guide me through dating, breaking up, and all of the other parts of the process. I trust them to help me when I need it. I also have to trust God. That part should come first.

BRIEFLY ON GOSSIP: To have self-control in dating within community means that I am careful with my words. I think before I speak and ask myself if what I’m saying is honoring the person I’ve dated or wanted to date.  I discern who to talk to about my feelings.  I don’t tell everyone everything I’m feeling although I used to do that and I ended up learning that it is not always appropriate.  Now I choose my few “safe people” who I can share with who won’t judge me but who will correct me if I’m off course. They love me that much.

Since I’m a strong verbal processor, it’s easy for me to just go off and talk about my feelings for hours even if they involve another person or people. I have to be careful to not let my words taint what other people think. It’s very tricky. That’s just gossiping and I want to avoid that. I wouldn’t want anyone gossiping about me or saying things to damage my reputation. Nor would I want to cause harm to someone else through my words or actions.  So I need to be extra careful in this area because I’m easily tempted to think I’m just helping someone understand the scope of everything I’m feeling when really I’m just gossiping and trying to get people to “be on my side.”

BRIEFLY ON BOUNDARIES: I won’t get too far into the topic of boundaries and the self-control needed to keep them in the context of this blog entry. I do hope to cover it at some time in the future, though. Dating in community is messy when boundaries aren’t kept.  That’s when soul ties are formed, which can be damaging and unhealthy. (more about soul ties later). Breaking soul ties is one of the hardest things to do. It’s painful.

If people learned how to date in a healthier manner in community, being honest, clear, and decisive about physical, spiritual, and emotional boundaries, oh how different the world of dating would look in our communities and churches! 

So much more to say on why dating in community is risky, but still so worth while! I know many couples (some of whose weddings I’ve been to or am going to) who figured this all out. They dated in community successfully! They took a risk, dated (sometimes comically and frustratingly), and are now taking an even bigger and worthwhile risk in marriage. This gives me hope. It can be done. Despite all of the risks, some people just go for it. I hope to have an in person panel with some of these couples to ask them how it worked for them, to hear their stories, and to encourage single people within my own community to keep hoping and to risk dating someone they may have never considered who might have been right in front of them all along!

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