God doesn’t want us to be alone. It might be hard to believe if you’ve been single for a while, but it’s true. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18, NIV).
However, finding Christian singles and developing a successful relationship can be wrought with challenges.
Where do we look, what do we look for, how do we develop a relationship, how do we sustain it?
These are all valid questions many of us grapple with daily on our search for romance. Hopefully, this definitive guide will provide the answers you’ve been searching for on how to become the best Christian matchmaker in 2017 for yourself.
We’ll be walking through 14 recommended stages of relationship development starting with finding a date all the way to saying “I do” and everything in between! While these are general guidelines and might differ from your exact personal experience, they could greatly benefit you during your search for a godly man or woman.
1. God Wired You For Intimacy and Connection | Can You Feel The Pull?
Before you careen into the rushing waters of the dating world, make sure you actually want to be there. If you’re content with your single life and love your freedom, dating might start to feel like a stressful part-time job.
You can avoid a lot of trouble by staying single until you want to be with someone – your parents can wait for grandbabies. Everyone craves intimacy, however, and when you do start to yearn for a life teammate, pay attention.
If God made Eve in Genesis 2 because Adam needed a human companion, then wanting a mate is totally natural for you, too. Eric Erickson, a well-known developmental psychologist, spent years studying human growth across the lifespan.
He consistently found that all adults across the globe from roughly ages 20-40 went through a phase he called intimacy vs isolation. If we develop a close, committed relationship we are said to have achieved intimacy but if we do not then we experience isolation.
This is a great example of how all truth is God’s truth because He said it first and science confirmed it thousands of years later. The fact is that we all crave and need intimacy, and a safe, healthy partnership meets that need. So, the first step is deciding if you want a spouse and are ready to move forward in finding one.
2. Choose your method of how you will meet someone | What will it be?
Now that you’ve set your sights toward a dating relationship, consider the best place to meet someone. Society has become increasingly solitary – when people do venture out of their bubbles, they’re glued to their phones and e-readers. The movies and TV make it seem so easy to hit it off with someone, but that’s not always possible in real life.
Despite millions of people in the nation, options for singles are often surprisingly limited. If your church doesn’t have a good singles scene, are you just supposed to start hopping from church to church until you find one that does? Unlikely.
Another option is to ask your friends and family if they know anyone who’s available. Sometimes this works but other times you have an Aunt who decides this means you want to meet each and every single person they lay eyes on – and that gets old after about three blind dates.
Most Christians don’t frequent bars for good reason so that option is out. Meeting someone where you work is a possibility for some but knowing if they are also searching for a relationship and if they are a believer can be tricky.
So, if all the above methods fail, online dating is certainly a viable option. Online dating can be extremely helpful for Christian singles who want to expand their circle of believers to date. It’s nice being able to go to a Christian dating site and know the other members are both Christians and actively looking for a relationship just like you are.
3. Be wise about which dating site you choose | Who is the owner?
If you choose to join a dating site, the kind of site you join will make a huge impact on the type of people you meet. If you don’t know where to start, head for the reviews. You can Google “reviews of Christian dating sites” or “reviews of ___” and fill in the blank with a specific site. Look for a company that has integrity and is Christian owned.
Think of it like reading Yelp reviews for a restaurant. Read some of the high ratings as well as the low rankings so you know why the site is rated that way. The people who gave it low ratings may have been looking for something different, and the things that bothered them might not be negative in your opinion. After you’ve narrowed the list down to a handful of good sites, look at the members on the site.
How authentic do the people appear or is the site filled with fake profiles, which can be very common. The more authentic looking the profiles are, the more likely the site manually reviews its members, which is a must!
Also, Think of how important it is to pick a niche online dating site over one of the “big box” versions – a Christian dating site may have less members but can double or even triple your chances of meeting people of the same faith compared to a larger, more generic site. So, weigh your preferences and options to find the best choice for you.
4. It’s time to create your dating profile | What’s the best approach?
Finally, you’ve picked a dating site you feel good about and now it’s time to create a profile to help people learn a lot about you from a glance. Instead of showing up for a blind date and discovering it’s not going to work out, you can find out before you get all dressed up for dinner downtown.
Answer personality quizzes with 100% honesty. It’ll only help you to get more accurate matches on the site.
Make sure to give your profile as much detail as possible without revealing any personal identifying information and don’t share every nitty-gritty detail either. Many of us are prone to over-sharing online, and it can be hard to break ourselves of that habit.
Take your time when you start filling out all the questions on the profile questionnaire. An extra day or two spent writing authentic answers will be far better than just throwing a partially completed profile out into the world. Spend extra time on answering any faith-related questions because many Christians will be reading that section first to ensure you’re equally yoked.
The depth and sincerity reflected in your profile will be obvious to everyone who reads it. Before you submit all your answers, proofread everything you’ve written. Misspelled words and/or grammatical errors will turn off others quickly. Next, polish off your profile with several great pictures of yourself in various places. If you don’t know what kind of photos to use, pick a few conversation-starters that show you participating in things you love.
5. Time to start browsing dating profiles | What do I look for?
Browsing dating profiles is simple in theory, but there are often so many to look at that it can present a steep learning curve. It takes practice to know which profiles to pursue and which ones to avoid. One of the easiest things to look for is a complete profile. Did they actually answer all the questions, and did they appear to take them seriously? Search for people who share information that makes sense. The typical signs of an online dating spammer are incongruent information, incomplete profiles, terrible grammar, text-speak abbreviations, and a faith section that sounds very generic. Safety must be your top concern with online dating and it starts by sifting through profiles for authenticity. Once you’ve figured out how to spot the people you don’t want to date, narrow down your choices by finding people you have a lot in common with. In particular, look for someone who shares your same level of faith and values on things you hold most dear. Typically, the more couples have in common the more successful their relationship tends to be.
6. Start reaching out | Don’t be scared!
Now comes the really fun part: reaching out to people. Instead of contacting every person who strikes your fancy, focus on making a Top Ten list. Trying to digitally flirt with more than ten people at a time will probably be more exhausting than anything. There will also be false starts that make you wonder why you even tried this in the first place (Buzzfeed).
Don’t just wait for good things to happen to you; go out and be proactive! You never know what could happen if you decide to send a message instead of hoping that a certain other person notices your profile.
Think of it this way: if you don’t sow any seeds, you may never reap anything, either. Every time you send a message, smile, or wink, it’s like sowing a seed. And by contacting more than one person, you don’t put yourself in a position to obsess over (read: freak out about) when you’ll hear back. After all, the entire point of online dating is to increase your chances of connecting with someone.
When you do contact people, keep it light. This part is a lot about whether you can get a conversation going, so comment on something you both are passionate about, or start the talk by commenting on an interesting part of their profile. Build people up and show kindness and encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and the people you contact will respond to that.
7. Keep the ball rolling and be wise!
After you’ve picked those people you think you’re most likely to hit it off with, you can get ready to hear back from a few of them. On average, about two or three people will respond for every five or ten quick messages you send out. Try not to take it too personally if you get even fewer responses or if your favorite options don’t get back to you. You never know if those profiles are inactive or if they recently got into a relationship.
Ask the people who respond how they feel about their job, what hobbies they’re passionate about, where they go to church, etc. You may meet a lot of strange people in this stage (Thought Catalog). Just keep finding new people to reach out to if the first ones you find don’t work out. Don’t forget to still be cautious so you aren’t tricked into dating a spammer.
Keep all your messages so if something doesn’t jive, you can easily go back and see what it was. If anyone is pushy, such as wanting to meet too quickly or by requesting money, hit the floor running. Flag them as a spammer to the site, then move on to better things. It’s smart to message for 1-2 weeks online before moving to the next stage below.
8. It’s time for video chats
Before the butterflies of having a romantic connection fully kick in, take some time to be suspicious. Hopefully you discover that all the caution wasn’t necessary, but you would always rather be safe than sorry. Set up a new Skype account and try a few video chats. It might feel strange to make your first date through a video chat, but it means the two of you can talk in a safe place.
You’ll get a better idea of whether they’re playing you or not. If, for some reason, you still feel like something isn’t quite right, ask for the other person’s full name so you can do a background check. The check can tell you if they have any criminal or sex offender history or if they’re already married.
Many people don’t do this because they’re so confident that the person they’ve found is being genuine. Even though the entire point of online dating is to meet someone new, you don’t want to develop serious feelings for someone and later find out they have a spouse and kids on the other side of town.
9. Ready, set, date!
The final stage of online dating ends with a real-life date. So far, you’ve done everything in your power to ensure you were talking to an authentic, interesting person. Even if you’ve spent weeks or months talking to this person take the time to be safe on your first date.
Drive yourself to the date location and make sure your phone battery is at 100%. The date should be someplace public – it’s not a good idea to meet at your house or theirs for the first date. If you are worried that you won’t be able to carry on a conversation without help, make the date an activity.
Play putt-putt, take advantage of a free day at the art museum, or go rock climbing at your gym. Pick something you both enjoy and that will help you take the focus from how well the date is going to how much fun you can have together.
You’ll both be more relaxed and you can see if you like being around one another. Start to ask deeper questions about their friends, family, and their faith. If the things they love and want in their life seem to match yours, Date Two could be on the horizon.
10. Put them in a group
Once you’ve had a few successful dates, try hanging out in groups with the other person. Having friends nearby takes away the pressure to carry constant conversation or be enchanting every single minute.
Instead, you get to focus on having fun. A group hang out gives you a way to get to know the other person in the context of other people. It helps to reveal their true personality in a safe environment. With friends acting as gatekeepers, you might be able to avoid a catastrophe.
The group will put you at ease. Besides, when you go to the bathroom they can keep an eye on your date and, later, fill you in on their actions. Group dates are also the perfect time and place to see if the other person has any kind of relationship with Christ.
The real deal will treat everyone with respect, exhibit actions influenced by the fruits of the Spirit, and be ready and willing to talk about their faith.
11. Time to dig deeper | Got your shovel?
Now we get down to the real business of finding your Christian soulmate. You weren’t able to find any surface-level red flags, but are there any down deeper? Find out what the other person values by asking them about their political leanings, their relationships with their parents, and even how they spend their money. You also want to gradually inquire on any areas of unhealed trauma in their life, such as childhood abuse, neglect, addictions, etc.
The more unhealed trauma they have from their background, the more those issues will negatively impact your relationship with them in the future. Keep hanging out in groups so your closest friends and family members can help you spot anything that might cause trouble around the corner.
Make sure you talk over physical boundaries, too. At this stage, it’s tempting to cross the lines of physical intimacy instead of waiting for God’s timing within marriage. We live in a culture saturated with unhealthy ideas of intimacy, and it’s imperative to pursue purity in your relationship to honor God and one another.
12. You’re officially an item!
If the person you’re dating passes the red flag check and your closest friends and family still like him/her, you’ve officially moved into “significant other” status. This generally happens after 3-6 months of dating. Everything changes. Your “coupleness” is now the norm in your friend group, and you might find yourself talking about the future in terms of “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me”.
As easy as things might feel, don’t let fairy tale emotions lull you into complacency. There’s still a long ways to go. Deepen your emotional, recreational, and spiritual intimacy. Don’t hold back – now is the time to share your insecurities and fears and to see what your significant other does with the information.
Break down walls and share the parts of yourself that you keep hidden from regular people. Conflicts will most likely appear, but that doesn’t mean the end is near. How a couple handles a fight often reveals whether they are truly good for one another or not.
13. What does God say?
If you’ve continually received affirmation from your friends and family about the person, survived conflict, and begun to take down each and every inner wall, you need to have a serious check-in with God. This phase often happens between 6-12 months of dating. Some couples take time apart to tune in to God’s voice. Others pray and listen for God’s voice together.
Find what works for you and dive into quiet times geared specifically for asking God’s blessing and go-ahead on your relationship. Be ready to hear His answer in dreams, from a friend, or even from a song on the radio.
Hearing God’s voice is often a matter of the heart and don’t be afraid to put His will into action. Like Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” If God confirms you’re with the right significant other, you’re ready for a milestone: engagement.
14. Do I hear wedding belles?
Congratulations! Your relationship has withstood countless red flag checks, nosy relatives, work parties, and your friends’ teasing. Just remember: you’re engaged, not married. You’ll be tempted to jump into bed together, but don’t let your self control fail you now. Even though it’s difficult and sometimes may feel impossible, it’s absolutely necessary to honor God and one another by preserving sex until the wedding day (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Preserving sex for marriage forces couples to strengthen their spiritual, emotional, and recreational intimacy, which are needed for long-term marital health. When sex is allowed into a dating or engaged relationship, the physical tends to dominate and those other vital areas of intimacy are severely stunted, harming the couple’s chances for long-term relational success. This is also the time to begin preparing for marriage.
Start pre-marital counseling or attend a Christian marriage retreat, begin meeting with a mentor couple to learn valuable lessons from them, and start reading books on marriage. Life isn’t going to get easier after you walk down the aisle – it’s just going to get more complicated. By gathering wisdom now about the challenges you’re about to face, you’ll both have the right tools to forge a successful, covenant marriage to last a lifetime!
I pray these stages are helpful guideposts on your romantic journey to becoming equally yoked. if you rely on God to lead you, He will make your paths straight. Be sure to proceed slowly into the dating world regarding what site you select, what people you reach out to, and how thoroughly you learn about your possible new mate. Then, continue moving slowly as you transition into dating individually and in groups.
Along the way be mindful of red flags and continually ask for feedback from your trusted family and friends. Once things deepen and flourish and a wedding date is set, pour yourself into study on developing a successful marriage so you’re well prepared for the road ahead.