A friend once ask me, what are my plans in regards to dating? What does Mr. Perfect look like for me and how will I know if he is the ‘One’? I did not give any specific answer because I honestly did not really have answers for the questions that came up. I thought about it for a while and remembered I read a post in regards to what to look for when you decide to date someone or pursue a relationship on a deeper level. A lot that was said resonated with me and I thought I share this great piece. I hope you gleam something useful from it and I would like to hear your thoughts and views and insights as well.
So, here we go, a Chase vs. a Catch? What’s the difference?
Dating is a good time to find out as much as you can about your potential mate. Would you find out some more stuff after marriage? Absolutely! But the point is hopefully it is nothing earth shattering or nothing that can end the marriage. For instance, you should not find out after marriage if your spouse has an anger problem, or if the creditors are after your spouse, or if there is an arrest warrant on your spouse – extreme examples but you get the point. Since I have heard so many definitions of the word dating, let me provide some context for this article. For me, dating is exclusively “getting data” about a person – getting to know a person with the intention of marriage. Prior to dating, you can talk to many people of the opposite sex and have many friends, but when it becomes exclusive, I consider that to be dating. Okay, now that we have the definitions out of the way, you are probably asking, who should I date? Who should be the chosen one from a pool of friends? I’m glad you asked. My sister-in-love (wife’s sister) has a colloquial term she uses to refer to a great guy or girl. She says “he is a big fish” and every now and then she further describes the person as an “octopus with 9 legs”. Funny descriptions but basically, her point is the person is a great catch and unique. How many octopuses have you seen with 9 legs…hopefully none? So I thought about what characters make a big fish and how to have a great C-A-T-C-H.
The first thing is to make sure they believe in and love Jesus CHRIST. While I am tempted to think it sounds obvious, I have seen too many relationships suffer because they are just not on the same level with beliefs and their faith. Notice, I did not say “they must go to church”. The devil goes to church and probably gets there on time before many Christians. Just because someone can speak “christianese” doesn’t really mean they love Jesus. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says it simply and plainly…”do not be unequally yoked”. So beyond the chain with the crucifix that they have and the fact that they know a few scriptures from Sunday school, still make sure your potential mate loves Christ. If Christ is at the center of your life (and He should), then it is imperative that who you are with should have similar beliefs. Now I’m not saying, if a brother can’t preach and speak in tongues for hours unending, you should not give him the light of day; but dating or marrying an unbeliever hoping they would be converted later is a recipe for disaster. It’s not worth it. In the long journey of marriage, you will need someone who can pray with you, pray for you, believe God for you and stand with you. Even with Christians in the same faith, sometimes denominations and different levels of Christianity might be a problem. For instance, if the girl/guy is in church 7 days a week because of their calling, is that something that the spouse can deal with, because in general it would remain the same after marriage.
Secondly, is there an ATTRACTION? Please don’t marry anybody that you are not physically attracted to. In Genesis 12:11 Abraham told Sarai “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance.” Abraham was very attracted to his wife and let her know because like every wise man would eventually realize, women love compliments. So for the fellas, like Abraham, constantly remind the ladies how beautiful they are and you would see wonders in your relationship (And all the ladies said Amen!). To my wonderful wife, Ena, you are beautiful, elegant and magnificent! I love you! (Shameless plug) Let the wonders continue!!
Physical attraction is really like a 1B to the first point of making sure the person loves Christ because in some instances, the physical attraction happens before finding out whether the person is a Christian or not. Especially for men, who are drawn by sight, there is an attraction that draws him in. The average single man does not see a lady at the office or gym or library or at a party and say “Wow!! Look at the works of the Holy Ghost on her” Truth be told, if the man is not physically attracted to her, then he probably won’t find out what her Christian beliefs are, except of course, he is out just evangelizing. Without being facetious, the first thing he sees is her figure and her face. I am not saying every aspect of your list of exact height, build and hair length must be met but if you would be married to and live with someone for the rest of your life, but you should be physically attracted to them. Whatever it is, I believe there should be a great deal of physical attraction. Now obviously, this is not the only trait because I know some older people are probably thinking, well what happens if physical stature changes via pregnancy, a few extra servings at thanksgiving, forgetting to go to the gym, or whatever the reason is and my response is start with what you like physically and as much as you can, “be your best you”. How tall or short or light or dark you are might be out of your control but certain things you can control like grooming, fitness, hair, nails, dressing. You should never have to pray “Lord make my husband taller” – you were aware of his shortcomings (pun intended) before marriage. Different things are attractive to different people. Some ladies like a man in uniform and that could be all the attraction they need. Obviously that man won’t be retiring from the military anytime soon. Some ladies like a confident man who just knows how to talk; and that makes the man look finer than he is. There has to be attraction on both sides. Am I advocating a “love at first sight” message? No. But I do believe you should be very attracted to who you marry.
For example, you are a lady at Starbucks getting some funky named coffee and you see this guy who walks in with a swag like Idris, has a body like Beckham, a face and confidence like Denzel and dressed like he just jumped out a GQ magazine. As he gets closer to you, you realize he has all the features you like – tall, dark, chocolate and just HOT like the coffee you are about to get (you probably forgot about the coffee at this stage…lol). He speaks and sounds very good!
“Hi. I’m John”, he says. “You are?”
Smitten, is what you really want to say, but you manage to remember your name and say, “Erica.”
“Well, Erica, it’s nice to meet you” …and the conversation begins.
Ooh and did I mention John has no kids and likes to do dishes. Okay ladies, before you dash down to the nearest Starbucks looking for John (lol), let’s consider a couple of different scenarios.
Scenario 1: John happens to be a Christian and just moved into town and they start talking and obviously both like tall dark chocolate coffee and realize they have good chemistry so it’s a wrap, Erica is swept off her feet and they are married not long after.
Scenario 2: As the conversation builds, its obvious John does not know Christ either from the *bleep* *bleep* language that ensues or the invitation to meet at a night club later that night. If I were Erica, I would gladly decline and probably invite John to church. Just maybe John can get to know Christ. Am I advocating a “catch and convert” philosophy? No. But “convert” and maybe “catch” is fine. His initial reason for coming to the church might be you and then he finds Christ. Truth about the matter is even if John does come to church and receives Christ, there are a few other hurdles to cross. Maybe you guys end up together, maybe you don’t, but hey another person got to know Christ. Plus, while John is getting his act together, Mark might come along with everything John has and knows the Lord too. You know the rest.
Scenario 3: He buys his coffee and doesn’t say anything to you (ouch…lol).
As you can see, this is a well-made up story that could take very many different turns. I purposely used the example above to highlight attraction is key. Sometimes it comes immediately, sometimes much later.
The next dating instruction is TOUCH NOT – no premarital sex. The bible emphatically says premarital sex is wrong and is a sin in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 “No wed No bed”. Most guys have hunter personalities; they enjoy the chase better than the catch. This is why in good relationships and marriages, the chase never ends. But back to the hunter, once a man has caught all that you have offered; there is no need for you anymore. If he can milk the cow for free why buy it? Forgive my bluntness but it is painful seeing young ladies sell themselves short and get easily heart broken and damaged emotionally. And so to all my single ladies, your body is not a hotel where men can check in and out as they please. No one can use you unless you let them. Allow me to quote Beyonce and say to the men “If you like it, put a ring on it”…it is that simple. In and of itself sex is not wrong or perverted and is an amazing thing within the confines of marriage. However, the copycat devil that has never had an original plan tries to thwart God’s original plan and purpose for sex. God’s plan in Genesis 2 was for a man and woman to marry, be fruitful and multiply. And while some cringe at the discussion of sex or wonder why sex is being talked about in the “don’t-have-sex” prematurely part of this article, I believe it is imperative to highlight the purpose and importance of sex (or no sex) in a biblical context. Pre-marital sex has long lasting effects on marriages. It creates soul-ties and leaves room for comparisons. “That’s not how Jessica did it” or God forbid, you are called the wrong name during sex (awkward!). Genesis 2:24 says when two people have sex, they become one flesh (a soul-tie) so can you imagine a guy who is “one flesh” with many ladies trying to hook up with a girl who is “one flesh” with many dudes. It is only with the help of Jesus such soul-ties and unnecessary baggage can be broken before marriage. In all honesty, I would say that the average single guy/girl reading this article has probably had sex already. To assume this article would be read by virgins only would be quite naïve and unwise. However, I do believe that you can make a choice today to do it God’s way from now on. Even if you have had multiple sex partners in the past or currently sexually active with your partner outside of wedlock, God will bless this relationship if you do it the Godly and proper way. You can make up your mind to live for God and honor Him with your body. You can decide that in your next relationship, you would do it how God commanded and ordained and remain pure until the appropriate time.
I pray if you are single or currently dating, you would make up your mind not to have any sexual encounter until honeymoon night. Now let me quickly address the elephant in the room, which is: “What if they are not good in bed”? How can I know we would be sexually compatible? If you both marry as virgins (quite rare these days), there would be no comparisons to make and you would both be your best ever! And most likely, if the chemistry and attraction and other things are in place, it typically translates into the bedroom. But any man (more common with men) that tells you to sleep with him to prove that you love him or to make sure you are sexually compatible is the DEVIL himself. And you should not be talking to devils, let alone sleeping with them. The spiritual side is if you have prayed and received the necessary confirmation that this person is your spouse, then the simple answer without over analyzing or trivializing this concern is BY FAITH. None of us have seen Jesus but we believe by faith. Marriage is a step of faith because people have changed and done the craziest things that you didn’t expect. But when you get married, you are hoping and praying you know this person and believe and trust them to do or not do certain things. In the same vein, I expect a God who says don’t have sex before marriage to bless and make good sex in marriage.
Next, there has to be good CHEMISTRY between you and your potential mate. We have already decided no touching so the question is “can this person stimulate me mentally” Do you get bored after talking with them for a while? While Spiritual (Christ) and physical (attraction) connectivity must be present, you should also connect with your potential spouse in some other ways. We have to be able to talk about a little more than the bible and sports highlights and connect on several levels. If you enjoy rich and erudite philosophical conversations and your potential mate only wants to talk about football, there might be a problem. Without being arrogant or proud, you never want to have to “dummy down” yourself to accommodate who you plan to live with – if anything, it will be a good opportunity for the spouse to learn about economics, politics and foreign policy and a few other things that pertain to life. Now if both parties just want to talk about the bible and football…great! But you get the point, which is you must connect on certain things.
It is amazing how couples after marriage fight on things like someone not wanting to have kids but the other person wants kids. Or she can be cute and fit your physical expectation but talks crudely or is unladylike and eats improperly with mouth open and blouse soiled in public. When dating, like the popular “deal or no deal” game show, there should be a stage where the imaginary button comes in front of you and the banker asks you “deal or no deal”? Am I saying you would find a perfect person that you agree with in everything? Absolutely not! My favorite Pastor and spiritual covering (Pastor Nike Wilheims) always says “If two people agree on everything then one of them is irrelevant” There is no perfect person and if there is one, when you bring your imperfect self and join them, they suddenly become imperfect. So do bad eating habits immediately negate a person? No, because they might not know any better or maybe you caught them on a bad (hungry) day. But from your conversations with them, proper dining and etiquette comes up and there is a change. You might be a staunch democrat and your spouse a staunch republican or you like the Lakers (Go Lakers!) and your spouse likes some other teams that I won’t mention – but the point is as long as you both understand what is a deal breaker and what isn’t and everyone is comfortable, then no problem. However I would say know what you can and can’t live with. Certain things change with time, and people can amend certain things but there would be some, actually most things that won’t change, and you have to decide what you can or cannot compromise on – Spiritual commonality and physical attraction being the biggest I think. You must ask yourself, if this person never changes in this area, can I live with this? Be honest to yourself- you owe yourself that much because you don’t want to come to the sad realization 3 to 5 years later that you cannot live with a certain aspect of your spouse.
Talk about anything and everything. Remember, in dating, you are “getting data” about this person to see if they can be your potential spouse. Common discussions you should have that could be deal breakers are: Do you want to have kids? How many kids? Discuss money goals and spending habits/patterns, family values. Know their likes and dislikes, bad habits (since it probably won’t change in marriage). Money is usually a huge factor also – who earns more and does that person as a result spend more? Should we have a joint account? With money, I’ll suggest talking in-depth with your spouse and coming up with what works best for you. There is no one size fits all. Some couples work well having just a running joint account and do everything from there. I personally prefer to have private accounts and have a joint for savings, bills and whatever else we agree on. But again, there are different strokes for different people. As long as both parties are comfortable with the method chosen and it works well for them, fine. Money is extremely important in dating and eventually in marriage. And call me old school, but if a guy doesn’t pay for the first date, that should be “the last supper”. But seriously, everything about money should be discussed – credit histories and reports definitely. Is the guy comfortable with the girl earning more than him or a higher potential to earn more in future years? Life insurance, 401k – everything is fair game. If a guy is hiding assets or money from you, it’s time to pick your stilettos and run. Another thing I would add about money if you are still dating is to avoid debt like a plague. It’s senseless to put the wedding on a credit card and suffer for it for unending years. Live within your means and grow wealth together with your spouse.
And last but not least for getting a good CATCH is HUMOR. Marriage is meant to be enjoyed not endured. As we grow and move through the different vicissitudes of life, it is easy to fall into routine and lose the spark because we are so concerned with schedules and deadlines but like the old saying goes “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. It’s good to work hard but to achieve balance you should also play hard. Your eventual spouse doesn’t have to be a stand-up comedian but they should make you laugh and you should enjoy spending quality time with the person and be free when around them. Most women have a great sense of humor as #1 for what they look for in a partner. So fellas lighten up and test out the funny or corny jokes. Since you both plan to be together for a very long time, you have to be able to see the light side of life and make the journey an enjoyable one for both parties. Spontaneity like a surprise vacation or date or just something out of the ordinary usually helps increase the fun and keeps the fire burning.
So there you have it. This list of 5 things is by no means exhaustive, but I believe it is a great place to start when looking for a potential mate and a “Big CATCH”. Starting with Christ obviously is a must because He is the one responsible for keeping you both together. And I have realized that the same things apply in marriage obviously with the exception of the “touch not” point. In marriage, there is a lot of touching Hallelujah!!! Grow together in Christ and ensure the attraction is always there. Anything good or great in life is as a result of a conscious effort and marriage is no different. Put in the time to have a good marriage. Learn to say “I am sorry”. Be more concerned about getting it right than being right. Marriage involves compromise. You wouldn’t and shouldn’t always get your way but that’s what true love is about anyway – sacrificing and compromising. Don’t take each other for granted and always appreciate the other person for what they do. I pray for every married person reading this that Jesus would pour upon your marriage a new wine and a new love and passion for one another. And for those desiring and looking for a spouse, God would give you the right person for you.
Pastor Tayo Tychus