Young and Single? Keep Reading. This post is about you.
Not Young and/or Not Single? Keep Reading. There's stuff in it for you too.
Dating as a young adult can be scary and difficult. You’re still discovering who you are, and you’re trying to find out who the other person is. Sometimes you’re not even really sure what real adulthood is like, and you’re trying to figure out if your spouse will be a good adult.
When you’re in a church, dating can be even worse. You have all the pressures of above, but you’re also trying to meet all these standards the church is telling you to have. And sometimes the people in the church can be added pressure because they become really invested in the relationship, almost like being a third person. Young adults in the church are often paralyzed by fear of making a mistake, or they can feel tremendous pressure to get married even from the beginning.
All that to say, the next two posts on this blog are going to be some typical advice we give to young adults about dating, especially in the church. Older people, you’ll want to listen up, too. I’ll be throwing in advice for you about how to help your young adults through this incredibly confusing time in their lives.
Here we go!
My Number 1 Advice to a Dating Couple: Make a Contract.
When you’ve been dating a while and you think it’s going to be serious, sit down and write a dating contract. It doesn’t have to be anything official, of course, but it does have to be official to you. I’d suggest to include curfew (for example, we were not allowed to hang out alone after midnight), include time limits (such as, we can only see each other 6 days a week), you can even include weird things that annoy you (like, no joking that you have other girlfriends) and of course include limits on the physical stuff. And it has to have consequences for breaking the terms of the contract. Because what is a contract without consequences?
We worked together when writing our contract, taking into account both of our personalities. And I encourage you to do the same. It has to make sense for you, while upholding the standards you want to uphold. Whatever you do, don’t write one and present it to your boyfriend and say “sign or we are breaking up.” Spoiler alert, it won’t end well for you.
Personally, we did not share our contract with anyone, but if you’d like a mentor figure to see it, more power to you. Mentors, if you’re going to encourage young people to make their own contract, refrain from suggesting limits to include. This is their contract, not yours. Use the opportunity to show them how to seek God for their boundaries and asking questions that help them personalize what God has said.
Now, a contract worked for us because whenever one of us was tempted to break the contract, the other one of us was strong enough to tell the knuckle-head to get their head back in the game. But if you’re both the type to give in to whatever you’re feeling at the moment, one, consider breaking up, two, consider that when you are writing your contract.
A contract is going to ensure you don’t let your emotions dictate the actions of your relationships. Emotions are fun, but they are terrible gods.
This was one of the best things we did when we were dating, because we stuck to it. I would highly encourage any couple to write their own.