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The other day when I brainstormed a list of article topics, one of the ones that came to my mind was to discuss long distance relationships. I think there’s a value in discussing this subject, particularly with the advent of social media and online dating only appearing to gain traction among our generation. It’s worth looking into what aspect of these sorts of relationships are positive and what can be rather difficult to deal with. My intention is to analyze what benefits might be derived from considering meeting someone through such an avenue, and whether that could serve as a launch pad for something more than friendship. I think it is possible when the right people, personalities, and desires clash. It’s like receiving a kiss of God’s destiny, where God sparks a will in us we can make a way.
Of course with all this said we should probably start with the downsides to online dating and also distinguish between different types of this that I think deserve to be categorically considered. I will call the first kind, I assume likely the more common one, is related to using online dating websites. These can be used to check out different profiles then proceed to choose who appears to fit the criteria of who we are looking for in a date. If we’re serious about dating God’s way, this is essentially looking to see who appears they have the potential to make a good spouse. Otherwise if we were being honest with ourselves we’d just be wasting their time and ours. The benefit of this as opposed to meeting people in person spontaneously or in our immediate circle of friends is that we can read a few more details about someone that they felt compelled to share. This information can help us to weed out prospects that were close, but ultimately don’t fit some things we consider “deal breakers”. For example, if I use a dating site and come across a girl who’s pretty, smart, and funny that’s a great start. If I scroll down a bit further and discover she has no affiliation or interest with Christianity I can already tell you that it just won’t happen. I will not pursue a date with her because we don’t share the same core Christian values. This may be a deal breaker for some, and it may not be a deal breaker for others. It is of my opinion, based on scripture, that it should be a deal breaker for every man or woman of God because the Bible tells us not to be unequally yoked. (V*1).
So this first advantage is clear, it saves us time in the long run. Instead of going on 30 dates and discovering deep into a discussion that a woman doesn’t share the same Christian values, I can just view 30 profiles and find the one that actually loves God. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. On the surface it may sound like it could take a little bit more work, but when push comes to shove I will know that I am trying to optimize my time spent dating rather than speculating with girls that I know I have little to no chance giving long-term consideration to. I am not trying to say I am any better than them; it’s just better to avoid that kind of conflict when I know I cannot go further with a non-believer. Additionally as a man of God I would view dating a non-believer as a source of temptation. I am not saying she’ll jump my bones or that she doesn’t have her own standards for morality, but I do know that she doesn’t share God’s standards. Eventually she might want to have premarital sex, and it will be much less painful for both of us if it doesn’t need to go that far down the track for us to realize it’s not a good idea.
The disadvantages of this online dating approach, that all exclusively dating sites would cover, are a few as well. From the vantage point of a male, you really have to send a lot of messages to have any reasonable expectation of getting a decent number of responses. Often times those responses will bring about conversation, but won’t materialize into a date. I may have been at a disadvantage given my desires in a woman of God who looks attractive being a pretty high standard, but I read the statistics of my response percentages. It turns out that the 3-4% rate of return on responses I was receiving was very close to the normal response rate that other men receive. In other words sending out 100 messages would only receive 3 or 4 responses, and of those 3 or 4 responses it would be a surprise if just 1 were interested in meeting up. Not very efficient, but if it’s something you kind of use on the side of real life encounters to seek a date on the side I could see it being helpful to some people. I decided for me this wasn’t practical enough and opted against it when I realized that I could just do better approaching girls in person when I felt compelled to do so or essentially whenever God put someone nice in my path and I thought there was a good possibility. On the other hand, if you’re a woman, the world is really your pearl when it comes to online dating. The man is expected to assume the traditional role of messaging women and pursuing them, so you’ve got plenty of male attention to choose from. I think from a female perspective online dating could be more profitable in terms of efficient use of time and setting up dates without having to compose 100 unique messages or more.
The overall outcome I think tells me that while online dating has the perk of being more selective, you also have the downside of having to tailor numerous messages to different girls in odds that aren’t favorable enough to suit my desires. Girls are able to pick up right away if you’re sending the same generic message to them with a simple change of name. To really stand a cut above the rest you need to put in the time and tailor your message creatively in regards to what you see in their profile. Do they like fishing, horseback riding, or basketball? It might help if you share some common interests to mention it right off the bat. They will definitely notice when you’ve put in that extra level of attention to detail and it will give you better odds.
Moving along the spectrum a little bit we have social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogging websites. Places where you’re perhaps not expecting to find anything beyond an online friendship if that. I have met a lot of long-term friends online. Whether it be through computer games or social media, it’s actually quite intriguing when I sit back to think it over. I think the reason for forming those computer gaming bonds was the amount of time I spent on certain games. People that I literally spent more time with than my parents, individual teachers, and almost everybody I knew in person. No wonder I was able to get to know them on a deeper level and meet many in person. Of course in the gaming world you don’t really have tremendous odds of meeting a woman, much less a woman of God, so I will focus on the social media. I have caught up with friends that I met and knew in person to some degree either as acquaintances or perhaps a little bit better. These mostly know me from school, particularly at the University of Miami, or some sort of other interactive sphere like Church for instance. The cool part about social media is that you also meet people from around the world if you care to. People that you probably wouldn’t have met otherwise if it weren’t for that Facebook discussion you involved yourself in or that Twitter chat you decided to private message someone from. I have formed some real, solid friendships with people in this sphere too. Particularly with two women of God that I respect a great deal, and one of which who I have actually become particularly fond of in the sense of attraction.
This is where it’s different from online dating. What if you know you’d like to date someone but they’re located 2k, 3k, or 4k+ miles away from where you live? Then you’ve got to use your discretion and figure out if it’s feasible to get to know them on that level. The best approach in my opinion is to put no pressure on the relationship, or in other words remain the friends you started to be. It doesn’t matter if you flirt, share fun times when you chat or talk on Skype, or find yourself liking them more than when you first met. The key is that it’s a two way street and it’s best not to raise expectations beyond what is reasonable to expect. The Bible tells us to guard our heart, because it is the wellspring of life. (V*2). I have a tendency to fall in love quite easily, or I should say fall into a state of infatuation with a girl. The true test is when you’ve known them long enough to fall out of that phase and see if you’re really interested in them after you find out more of their strengths and weaknesses. Can you live with their faults as well? As friends you can learn a lot about these things from one another. Then when both parties are ready you can decide if it’s suitable to meet face to face. I think it’s at that point and not a moment sooner that you can determine whether God wants you to pursue something more with them or whether it’s not something you each compel to pursue.
I am confident that you can get along great to the point where you’re almost certain that you’ll remain friends regardless of what an in person interaction looks like. Despite that to expect or imagine anything beyond that is a mistake, it’s rendering love before it’s due. How do you know if you will enjoy how the person smells? How they act in terms of mannerisms? Whether they respect you and your desires of purity before marriage? Do they get along with your parents and other friends of yours smoothly? Do you perceive chemistry in terms of how you look at one another? Is there a sense of trust, security, or confidence when you’re with the person? Has God spoken to your heart and mind that this person has potential enough to pursue dating and considering marriage possibilities with?
I think that these are questions that can be speculated, but not concretely answered until you meet someone in person face to face. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving from an online dating conversation into an in person date or you’ve known the person for months or even years and decided to meet in person. There’s something beautiful about knowing that you’ve got at least a basic level of attraction when you see someone in a picture or on Skype, but mostly falling in love with whom they are instead of how they look. You can only see a limited view of what they look like sometimes, but you’re looking beyond the exterior and into their hearts more often than not in conversation. That’s what God does with us, except perfectly and infinitely better than any of us could ever imagine.
I don’t consider myself an expert in much, particularly not in something like long distance relationships or dating. All I know is that I love God and I put Him first in everything I do. So whether or not the woman that He wants me to marry comes along from a meeting at Church, a Bible study, an online dating website, or meeting someone I got to know online in person for the first time – I trust His timing and I believe that He has someone out there that exceeds my wildest dreams. In the meantime He continues to build me up into the man that will be capable of exceeding her wildest dreams too. It’s a two way street, so I know that to have the dream wife you want to be the dream husband. To be the dream wife or husband, you have to put Jesus Christ first in everything that you do. Without a cord of three strands and an overall rock solid foundation in God’s Word you are not experiencing the depth of a relationship or marriage that God wants for you. (V*3). You are seeing a very limited scope of what marriage was truly intended to be. I am satisfied in this season of my singleness; I am truly beginning to see singleness as an advantage. I can continue to focus on building a legacy for the glory of God, and I know that one day if it is in His will, I will meet my future wife if I have not already met her. Only time will tell, and I want to enjoy both the journey and the destination to the fullest.
I hope that something in this article sparked some encouragement or practically applicable advice in your life today. If not I am confident something else on fatherspiritson.com is capable of meeting your needs through the analysis of God’s perfect Word. Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to examine my work, it’s truly a privilege and an honor that God has blessed me with. I will continue to pray for the readers of the website, as I hope that you will continue to pray for Jim and I to continue to use this platform to bring God glory. Thank you!
V*1- 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV).
V*2- 23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV).
V*3– 9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NKJV).