Is there anyone who doesn’t have a horrible dating story? A heart break? A mistake?
I count myself lucky that by the time I was 23 I’d put the dating world behind me and was married. But, in the years I was dating… oh boy. Talk about some serious mistakes, horror stories, and a few broken hearts along the way. That said, all of my years of dating weren’t terrible. I have some pretty wonderful memories, actually.
Most of my issues in dating were the result of lies I believed or lies I told myself. Looking back, I wouldn’t really change a lot. But, I would go back and tell myself to beware of these lies and I would try to hold much tighter to the truth. So, if you’re in the dating world and have had some heart break yourself this might be the post written just for you.
Today I’m sharing the lies I believed while I was dating and the truths I should have held to instead.
The Lie: I Must Love Myself Before I Can Love Anyone Else
This is one of the biggest lies I see women believing, in and out of the context of dating relationships.We have convinced ourselves that because we do not always treat ourselves well that we therefore do not love ourselves which, in turn, means we cannot properly love others.
This lie holds so many women back, convincing them that they must feel perfectly secure, content with who and where they are, and be happy with every part of their bodies and mind in order to love someone else.
The Truth: I Must Respect Myself & Love Others As I Love Myself
I have two issues with the lie of self-love:
The first is that we already love ourselves and scripture does not support the idea of self love. We are the most important person to ourselves. This doesn’t mean we don’t have moments of self-loathing or low self-esteem. But, at the end of the day we DO love ourselves. So much that the number one priority of our brains is to keep us alive. Loving ourselves is a given. In fact, many people distort the scripture that speaks about loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 12:31). This does not mean that we need to love ourselves in order to love others. But rather it means that we already love ourselves more than anything and we are called to love others with that same love. A love that forgives, does not have conditions, and loves like Jesus.
The second issue with the lie of self-love is that loving someone else has NOTHING to do with us. Love is sacrifice, selflessness, and putting someone else before ourselves. So….how on earth does that mean that we must love ourselves first? I have found more joy in loving my husband than I will ever find in learning to love myself. Take my word for it, friend, this lie will make you feel like a failure every day and cause you to miss out on some seriously beautiful stuff.
With all that said, when it comes to dating, you absolutely MUST respect yourself before asking someone to love you. Love and respect must come as a package deal and you can never find love from someone if they do not respect you, your boundaries, and your beliefs. This was a huge mistake I made early on in dating. I allowed my boundaries and beliefs to be disrespected and disregarding because I didn’t have enough respect for myself to require it from the person I was dating.
The Lie: I Can Change Him
One of the biggest lies I believed in my first serious relationship was that I could change him during the course of our relationship (which I thought would last forever of course). I thought that I could be strong enough for both of us in all of the areas he was weak. I believed the lie that our different beliefs didn’t matter. I believed that I could help him manage his anger issues. I believed that I was strong enough to push him to a healthier lifestyle and to be more ambitious about his career. But, friend…that wasn’t true…
The Truth: I Can Only Change Myself
And sometimes not for the better. During that relationship I saw myself shift in so many ways. I let go of things that mattered to me and developed an unhealthy lifestyle. I began to take on the characteristics of his personality and I became more and more tied to him as part of my identity.
I realized that the only thing that I could actually change was myself and I did not particularly like the person I’d become so I took the first step in changing: I walked away from him for good and refocused my life on what I knew mattered most to me: my relationship with Christ, my family, and the dreams I had for my future.
The Lie: It’s Okay If I Am The One That Loves The Most
This is a lie that I believed while in the first relationship I’d ever been in with someone I truly fell “head-over-heels” for. I was timid and afraid of getting hurt early on in the relationship but once I let myself love….oh boy did I fall hard. And it turned out that as much as he wanted me to stop fearing that relationship and how I felt…it really did end up hurting me because I loved him far more than he loved me. I was four years older and in a very different stage of life so looking back now I understand WHY I was the one that loved more. But, it still caused a lot of pain at the time. And it’s still one of the biggest scars on my heart.
On the flip side of this lie is the reverse situation: dating someone who cares for you way more than you care for him…a.k.a….leading him on. I did this only once and I’ll forever regret it. While I was trying to take time to develop feelings for this guy…I was leading him on and hurt him deeply in the process. Though my intention was never to cause pain, I should have been honest with him about my feelings so he could have guarded his heart from the beginning.
The Truth: Be Honest About Your Feelings
Whether you are feeling all the butterflies or nothing at all. This helps open the conversation to work through what your relationship means to you both. Are you willing to wait for him to develop stronger feelings and possibly never get to that point? Being honest at the beginning allows you to find out what you’re willing to risk. Maybe you are unsure of your own feelings and he seems pretty sure of the future…tell him the truth and give him the opportunity to decide if he’s willing to risk his own heart.
The Lie: We Should Be Each Others’ Everything
I just want to scream a big “NO, NO, NO” to this lie.
When I first started dating my first serious boyfriend — which turned into a long and abusive three-year relationship — I held onto this lie with everything I had. I wanted to believe that because we “loved” each other that we were supposed to be the most important thing in the world to one another. And this lie led me to forsake everything I knew about myself and about what I believed.
I let go of biblical values that I once held dear because I believed that he should come before everything else, including my relationship with Christ. I believed that my relationship with this guy was more important than what I knew God called me to do, who He made me to be, and what He had planned for my future.
Because he was my “everything” I lost friends, hurt family members, gave up on my own dreams, and changed everything about myself to suit what he wanted. By making a PERSON my everything….I was no longer the person that I was made to be.
The Truth: No Person Should Be Our Everything
We were created to love and be loved, sure. But, more than that we were created to love and be loved by the Creator. And no single person, not even our spouse, should be our everything.
They shouldn’t be our life. Our top priority. The single relationship that brings us joy. The source of our identity. No, all of those things belong to God.
And He doesn’t call us to this sort of relationship with Him, where He is our everything, just because He likes the spotlight. He calls us to it because no human could ever fully meet our expectations. Even the person we love enough to spend our life with is doomed to disappoint us at least once in this lifetime. But God will never let us down. He will never leave us with unmet expectations. So, our call to prioritize a relationship with Him is meant to bring us joy because He knows that we will be left with nothing but hurt if we place all of our hopes and expectations in another human being.
Friend, if you are placing everything you are in a person you will find nothing but disappointment and heartbreak on the other side. You were not made for that kind of relationship with another person but rather with Christ. And if you are placing your everything in Him then you will find all of your other relationships will thrive. If He is the center and everything you long for then you will find that the other parts of this life will have a way of working themselves out, I promise.