See It For What It Is
It’s a Vicious Cycle
In my life, especially while leading a church singles group, I saw this cycle over and over and over again – it drove me crazy.
Someone would go through DivorceCare with us or start coming to our singles group. Once there, they would begin to heal up and start to learn and grow as a person. Then, despite our teaching, they would meet someone and right away start a dating relationship. They would get way too involved way too fast, disappear from the group, and isolate themselves. Predictably, they would start having issues, their relationship would become dysfunctional, they would break up, and they would end up heartbroken. Then they would more likely than not repeat the cycle again.
It’s Stealing Your Life
This led to needlessly wasted years of investing in relationship after relationship that didn’t work out. It literally stole years from their life and life from their years. Usually, we would find out later how bad the relationship had eventually become.
It Teaches You To Pair up and Break Up
This pattern of bonding and breaking up becomes the norm in their life. I believe that at a subconscious level they expect that to be the natural course of relationships. Even though at the outset of a new romance they seem very optimistic, deep inside, I believe they have come to expect dating relationships to end badly. They simply resign themselves to the fact that the best they can expect is to enjoy that brief, but intense period while everything is still fresh and new, that time before it all goes bad.
So how do you break the cycle?
Take a Break
Andy Stanley’s Timetable
I love Andy Stanley. His teaching about 1“The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating” was a major influence on me and helped me thrive in my unexpected single years. We also used his stuff a lot when teaching our singles group. One of the things he said that got a lot of reaction was when he suggested that people take a year off from dating.
Yes, a year. Okay, pick your jaw up off the floor, wipe that incredulous look off your face, and seriously consider that maybe this is not such a radical notion.
Compared to the time people have lost to a series of bad relationships, one year of being truly single isn’t that much time. And what if maybe, just maybe, it resets your thinking and you are then able to successfully pursue a lifetime relationship? What if it spares you from some unnecessary heartache? Would that not be a year well spent?
Be truly single for a time
Myles Munroe hit the nail on the head. He says that too many single people don’t take the time to learn to be truly single. He is exactly right. If you always go from one love interest to the next, you miss out on valuable time you could be using to learn and grow and become who you should be. It takes time without a significant other to become that unique individual you are intended to be.
Alone time is something many people avoid like fending off an overzealous telemarketer. Embrace it. See the value in it and take advantage of the opportunity.
Opt Out for a While
So, just opt out for a while. Go cold turkey and see what happens. Even if there are some mild withdrawal symptoms, you’ll be okay – I promise. In fact, you will probably be more than okay. There is a good chance that you will end up better than ever.
Decide What You Really Want
More Date/Breakup Cycles or Marriage
What do you really want? Are you okay with the cycle as it has been operating in your life? Or, is a healthy, loving, lifetime marriage what you really desire?
If a great marriage is what you want, you don’t get there through a string of “marriage lite” dating relationships. If a lifetime marriage is what you want, it is worth doing the work and breaking your old habits to get there.
What type of spouse do you want?
If you have a series of broken relationships with a series of people you should never have dated, it is time to do things differently there too. Before you go on one more date, stop and decide what type of person you want to marry.
Put some serious thought into this and see my post on making a list.
Date with a purpose
Why are you dating? What is your end game? Are you dating to simply avoid being lonely? Are you addicted to having a boyfriend or girlfriend? Or is it that you just like the prestige of having your Facebook status say “In a Relationship”?
If the purpose is to find a spouse, you will need to do things differently than you have been.
Date like a Christian
What I am about to say is old school. It is counter to pretty much everything you see portrayed in movies, on TV, in songs, and by the people around you, but it leads to good results.
Leave the romance, kissing, hand holding, and certainly the sex for later on. If you are dating to see if someone is a suitable spouse, that does not require a sexual audition.
The truth is, when it comes to sexual compatibility, emotional compatibility, intellectual compatibility, and spiritual compatibility, sexual compatibility is the easiest. In fact, if you are compatible emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, and completely committed to each other, you can pretty much solve any sexual problems that arise in marriage.
If you are dating with the intent of finding a mate, forget about these long, intense, marriage-like dating relationships. Dating, as in those kinds of relationships, is to my way of thinking, useless.
On the other hand, there is dating, as in going on dates for enjoyment and getting to know someone. That kind of dating is not only fun but useful in many ways. I get into this in more detail in my post Dating vs Dating.
So first, stop dating. Then after a suitable period of time, I don’t know, say perhaps … a year, start dating, but not dating.
Now Is the Time to Change
An old Chinese proverb says – a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Sometimes the hardest part is that very first step. After that, it is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.
Let me finish with a good ole, tried and true cliché to wrap up, when it comes to making changes, there is no time like the present. Seriously, the sooner you start, the further along you will be a year from now.
So break the cycle, embrace your single years, and begin to thrive.
While you are here, check out more of my thoughts on dating. Be sure to pass this on to the serial daters you know. And be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on new posts as they become available.
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