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Dating Discernment: A Step-by-Step Guide

April  29th,  2019
Laura Riebe
By Laura Riebe read
Posted in Dating

So, you’ve caught the feels. Maybe it’s someone you just met or maybe it’s someone you’ve known for a long time. Either way, all the stars align and symphonies play whenever he or she is around. It’s incredible and confusing at the same time. How do we know if this is the real deal or just our emotions getting the best of us? Should we actively pursue this person or should we pump the breaks? These are questions we should ask ourselves when we are feeling some type of way about someone. This whole process can be quite the rollercoaster ride, so let’s bring some clarity to the black hole of dating discernment by establishing some practical steps.

Step 1: Check Yo Self before You Wreck Yo Self

Before we start dating anyone, we need to evaluate if we are ready for the commitment. Our culture often views relationships as casual flings that are just for fun. But if we do them right, they should actually be a profound encounter with a brother or sister in Christ. The purpose of dating is to discern if we are called to marriage with another. Remember that dating ends in one of two ways: we either break up or get married. This may sound harsh, but it’s true. I’m not saying we have to know if we are going to marry someone after the first date, but keeping this in mind helps us be more intentional about the relationships we pursue.

Once we understand this reality, we are ready for deeper internal reflection. Why do we want to date? It’s time to check our intentions. Are we lonely and looking for someone to fill that void? Do our friends have significant others and we don’t want to be left out? Are we looking for attention? Do we want someone to solve our problems? Did we just get out of a relationship and want to prove we are moving on? Are we trying to fix another person like they are one of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ projects? If we are honest about our intentions, we can identify if we are dating for the wrong reasons.

The final piece of our personal analysis is the most important. To get this whole dating thing right, we have to rely on the creator of love Himself, God. We can evaluate our reliance with the help of a few questions: Do we have a solid relationship with the Lord? Are we asking him what he wants for us and our vocation? Is our identity and worth found in God rather than who we date? If we are unsure of our responses, set aside time for prayer. Reflect on these questions and journal about anything that comes up.

This step may seem long, but it’s SUPER important! We can save ourselves from drama, heartbreak, and stress if we do a personal inventory before we start dating anyone who strikes our fancy.

Step 2: Set the Standard

After the personal evaluation is complete, we are ready for the next step. Grab a pencil and paper, and make a list of the qualities you want your future spouse to have. This list can cover a spectrum of desires, but it’s really important to determine your non-negotiables. These are things you will not compromise on no matter what. Be sure to include these at the top of the list so you remember their importance!

How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert is an excellent book to help evaluate what should be included on your list. This article also outlines important qualities to consider. I could write an entire blog on this process, but hopefully these resources will help in the development of a proper set of standards.

Once this list is complete, keep it in a safe place! We will refer to it in the future. While this step may seem silly, there is a purpose behind it. Setting our standards will bring us clarity as we discern dating someone and help us evaluate a relationship as it develops. It stops us from settling for less than we deserve and keeps us from compromising what’s really important!

Step 3: Evaluate the Prospects

Now that we have checked our intentions and set our standards, it’s time to look at our prospects! If we are interested in someone, we can properly discern if dating is a viable option. Pull out the list of standards and see if this person aligns with what we are looking for. This can be very telling! Maybe we aren’t sure about several qualities so we need to get to know them better by pursuing a friendship first. Maybe they don’t check any boxes – a big red flag! Maybe they meet all our non-negotiables, and we are ready to move forward. Whatever the result, the most important part is that we are honest in our evaluation.

Step 4: Progress with Clarity and Intentionality

So what do we do now? Well, we have determined whether or not the person we are interested in aligns with who we are looking for. If the person is a poor match, it’s important to acknowledge that pursuing a dating relationship would not be beneficial. This can be challenging but ultimately help us avoid a relationship that could be harmful. If the person meets the standards we set, and our intentions are pure, pursue them! If you are the girl, be clear about your interest – don’t keep him guessing! If you are a guy, be intentional and ask the girl out on a date.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. I don’t claim to be a dating doctor or an expert in discernment, but hopefully these steps bring some clarity to the confusing world of relationships. Happy dating, y’all!

Laura Riebe
Laura Riebe

About the Author

Laura Riebe is a 2018 graduate of West Chester University where she received her BA in Education. She grew up near Birdsboro, PA and has always dreamed of living outside of the Keystone State. Laura first encountered the Culture Project through social media and then in person at SLS18. Immediately she recognized that there was something different about the Culture Project. “Every person I talked to expressed authentic joy in every interaction. I realized that the root of their joy was found in God and pursuing him through living a life of virtue.” God left Laura some not so subtle hints to join CP, and He continues to radically alter her world in the best way.


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