How do Christians and other morally minded singles succeed at romance in an “anything goes” world?
We might as well be honest: It isn’t easy to maintain moral boundaries and participate in the modern “singles scene.” That’s because for many people, dating is just an excuse to party. Sex, drugs, and valueless entertainment often feel like an inescapable part of the dating landscape. It’s as if most people have adopted the philosophy of the legendary carouser Oscar Wilde, who once wrote, “I can resist everything except temptation.” If you are determined to “resist temptation” and safeguard your standards, finding a compatible mate can be frustrating and discouraging.
“Drugs are as common as cocktail napkins in most clubs,” said Liz, a young single Christian legal assistant. “I’ve been invited to parties where ‘hooking up’ seemed to be the entire point.”
The problem for Liz, and thousands of singles like her, is that the desire for social contact and romantic companionship often causes her standards to weaken at the point of decision. Once the momentum of an otherwise enjoyable date shifts toward questionable activities, defending boundaries can be extremely difficult.
Fortunately, there is hope. An ancient Chinese proverb says, “Confront the difficult while it is still easy; accomplish the great task by a series of small acts.” Here are three strategies for doing that:
Clearly define your standards—in advance.
Liz conceded that she often failed to hold her moral ground because she waited until a dicey situation had already arisen. Moral standards are like the anchor of a boat (your life). Once you’ve put to sea in a hurricane, it is much less likely to be effective at keeping you safe. The time to drop anchor is while you are still in the harbor. If holding to your values is important to you, take time to identify them before you start dating. Fortify them ahead of time with your firm intentions.
Communicate your values.
Many awkward and compromising situations can be avoided by simply being honest with your date up front about your standards. Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions to discover the other person’s idea of a fun time. If he or she has planned an evening of activities in venues you know are out of sync with your principles, you still have the chance to change course and do something else. If your date resists your efforts to be true to your beliefs, then do yourself a favor—gracefully bow out.
Collaborate with like-minded people.
When facing any challenge, it helps to know you are not alone. Enlist others who share your commitment to moral integrity. Ask them to watch your back, encourage you hold firm to your convictions, and keep you accountable. Solicit their advice about how to handle new and potentially compromising situations. Learn from their successes and failures—and offer to share your own. If necessary, socialize in groups, especially in the early days of a new relationship.
Moral values are a large part of who you are and will play a vital role in any lasting relationship. Don’t hesitate to define them early—and defend them strongly.
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