How can I find the right person to become involved with in a dating relationship? I'm a Christian high-schooler who is anxious to please God, but my past experiences with members of the opposite sex haven't been very positive. What can I do to avoid this in the future?
Your desire to please the Lord is commendable. Unfortunately, young people don't always think ahead of time about issues like dating, marriage and sexual purity. If their personal feelings and passions are the motivation for most of their decisions, they may have regrets later on.
When it comes to relationships, the character of the individuals involved is very important. Even if someone has a great personality and good looks, it will be hard - if not impossible - to develop a meaningful or lasting relationship if there's no depth of character.
Because people get to know each other by spending time together, you should build a real friendship with someone before pursuing romance. As the two of you experience things together, you will gradually discover the truth about one another's morals, values, attitudes and ways of treating other people. This will help you decide whether or not to go beyond the stage of friendship.
In Galatians 5:22 the apostle Paul gives us a list of positive qualities you can use as a guide when considering the possibility of dating someone. Paul tells us that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the characteristics we encourage you to look for.
That doesn't mean you should hold others to an unrealistic standard. We all make mistakes and behave in ways that are not consistent with Paul's list of qualities. That's where the Holy Spirit comes in, and we come face to face with our deep need of God's grace. Still, if you find yourself strongly attracted to an individual who doesn't have several of these characteristics, you should probably not date that person.
If you haven't already done so, we suggest that you find a church in your area that has a Christ-centered youth group that's based on things like discipleship, spiritual maturity and Christian service rather than just fun activities. As you take part in the group, get to know as many people as you can. This will help you recognize a person you could consider dating.
Our most important recommendation of all is to ask your parents and other trustworthy Christian adults, such as your pastor or youth leader, for advice. Maybe you could ask your pastor to match you up with a mature, happily married Christian couple in your church. You can also give us a call here at Focus on the Family. One of our licensed Christian counselors would be happy to discuss your questions with you over the phone.
In this iQuestions video from Focus on the Family, Dr. Greg Smalley explains how to determine if dating is right for you, and how to decide what your goal for dating should be.