Internet Dating - Guest Blog by Sally Hope
Should I take the plunge?
I finally relented and gave the Internet dating thing a go. Part of me wanted a bit of a laugh, part of me hoped I'd meet a lovely guy on there, a bigger part of me was curious; who would the Internet in its wisdom pick as my 'Mr Right'? Was it true that I'd get sent loads of pictures of genitals? (By the way, yes!) Were dating websites really full of awful predators, and, more importantly, would I be able to spot them?
What it was like
I talked to a lot of men online, some seemed quite nice, some seemed quite awful, most just didn't seem right for me. I only went on a few dates, some okay, some really nice, one a disaster. I learned a lot. Mostly I learned a lot about myself; I worked out where I'm drawing my boundaries and what's important to me. I came to the conclusion that if you're in an emotionally healthy place and you keep your wits about you then Internet dating can be fun. However, if you're vulnerable, if you've not dealt with your past, it could easily be a soul destroying experience and you could easily be taken advantage of.
So I decided to write a post giving some tips for Internet dating. But as I sit down to write it, bible to hand as it often is when I write, I realise that I actually only have one tip I want to pass on, and it's this:
Until you love yourself you are not ready to love (or even date) anyone else.
If you can master this then all the other ways in which you can keep yourself safe and emotionally healthy while trying out the dating scene (online or otherwise) will fall into place.
Knowing who you are
If you recognise yourself as a uniquely created, beautiful daughter of God, who deserves to be treated with respect and valued for your wonderful contribution to the world, then you will not settle for someone who won't do this. You will naturally have boundaries, you will naturally believe your boundaries to be reasonable and you will expect them to be respected. Doing this will keep you safer both physically and emotionally.
If you love your own company, if you are happy with your life's course and quite enjoy being single then you will not be tempted to give that guy your gut is telling you to steer clear of a chance. Nor will you settle for the guy you went on a date with but didn't really feel any connection to. And after a few dates, if he seems like he doesn't respect you, or just isn't right for you, you won't be likely to try to make it work for fear of being alone. Because being alone isn't something to fear. Even better, if you meet someone you want a relationship with, your relationship will be stronger because you are there by choice, not because you feel you need to be, and honestly, that's far more attractive anyway.
If you trust that God has a plan for your life; a plan that gives you a future and a hope, then you will not date with the hope of meeting someone to make your life complete. Because in Christ your life is already complete, and a boyfriend/husband/whatever is simply a nice addition. This means you will not ever be tempted to give up your dreams, your hopes, your faith, to pursue a relationship; because not only will you recognise that someone who expects you to do this doesn't really love you, but you'll know that Gods plans for your life are bigger, and more exciting than anything any man can offer you. If he wants to come along for the ride then that's great... because rollercoasters are more fun with a friend, but you sure as hell aren't going to give up your high speed thrill ride just because it's not someone else's thing, no way Jose, you've done that before, never again!
If your identity and self worth are based in your relationship with Christ, then they do not need to be based in a relationship with a man. Our society tells us as women that success is measured by our intimate relationships. Girls grow up dreaming of their perfect wedding day, of marrying a rich man. Single women are asked "are you still single?" (And incidentally married women are asked "are you pregnant yet?") Women: We are more than wives and mothers and girlfriends and daughters. Our success, our worth, does not need to be measured by our relationships to men. It should be measured by our own standards, by our own achievements, and most importantly by the fact that the creator of the universe knows us inside out, all our flaws and imperfections and yet still loves us immeasurably. How can any human opinion of us matter when Gods opinion of us is so high?
Secure in who you are? Dive in.
So that's my tip to you if you've dealt with your history, if you have moved on from the past and you quite fancy giving the dating malarkey a shot, go do it, give it a try, but only do it from a place of confidence and assurance of who you are in Christ.
Ps- from a practical point of view, if you've nailed all that stuff and are off on that first date, do have a mooch at some practical safety tips, there's loads online, here's some to get you started: https://www.getsafeonline.org/social-networking/on...
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