It seems there is an unspoken rule in the world of women that states if you are single, there must be something wrong with you. While logically we can say that is not true, emotionally it is more difficult. I sit with women in my counseling practice struggling with this mentality. Due to past hurtful relationships, you may seek relationships that meet your emotional needs in an unhealthy way.
Experiencing abandonment can be more frightening than abuse. When I use the word abandonment, I am referring to when someone who is important to you has deserted you emotionally or physically. Abandonment can be real or imagined. The following list will help identify what one can get out of a relationship and what one cannot get out of a relationship.
What He Can Do
Support your Relationship with God
When looking for someone to date and even to marry, it is beneficial to find someone who shares your faith and supports you in your relationship with God. A healthy relationship is one in which people are mutually encouraging each other. It is healthy for him to support you in your walk with the Lord.
What does this look like? A man who supports your faith will enjoy attending church services with you; he will encourage you to join a bible study and for you to spend time with other women who share your beliefs. A man you have to drag to church, refuses to attend church, wants you to skip your bible study, presses you to violate your physical boundaries, or isolates you from Godly women is not someone who supports your faith.
The person you choose to date and eventually marry should be your companion. Companionship is important to a healthy relationship. Building a friendship before you date is beneficial to the future of your relationship (Harris, 2003). While the feeling of being in love is great, feelings can fade quickly (Harris, 2003).
Relationships, especially romantic relationships, should not only be founded on the feelings of love but also on friendship and commitment (Harris, 2003). Relationships founded on friendship and commitment can be romantic, too.
While respect should not be demanded, it is a healthy expectation in a relationship. Respect should not be one sided. You should also respect the other person in the relationship. What is the difference between being respectful and someone who is respectable? When someone is respectable:
- Flows out of your identification in Christ, having nothing to do with the other person. They have a reputation within the community and church of being honest, trustworthy, dependable, accountable, and loving.
When someone is respectful:
- It is reasonable to note respect may have to be earned if either party has been disrespectful in the past. Earning respect should be a process and not an end in itself.
- He should never call you names or use derogatory terms to refer to you
- He should be interested in your opinions
- He should encourage your aspirations – this does not mean agreeing with them
The way he treats you should be kind both when you are alone and with others. How can you respect him? Listen to his thoughts, concerns, and opinions. Give him space: you do not have to know where he is at all times. Do not allow your emotions to depend on his happiness.
Every woman likes a little romance now and then. It is important to keep the romance in your relationship alive to preserve the excitement. It is healthy in a relationship to want a man who can be romantic. Many women find the romantic side of a man very attractive. While I am sure many of you have dreamed of romantic dates, it is important to mention that he cannot be your savior.
There is a difference between having romance in the relationship and wanting someone who can right past wrongs. The latter is not a healthy view of relationships and will be discussed later. Romantic movies have a habit of portraying the idea that the right man can heal past hurts. This idea is fictional just like most of those romantic movies.
What He Cannot Do
Heal Past Hurts
Unfortunately, many women have struggled with overcoming hurts they have experienced in the past. These hurts may have been a result of relationship or personal mistakes. No one likes to experience hurt even though it is a part of life. Most would like to get rid of the feelings of hurt as soon as possible. It can be a pattern for some women to allow a relationship to help them forget and heal the hurts. They are unaware this is one of their motives for getting into relationships.
This is an unhealthy habit because only God can heal your heart. You cannot expect or hope that a relationship will mend emotional scars. In order to heal these types of hurt, it takes personal work at an emotional level. Many times these hurts are so deep you may need professional help to work through these past hurts developing as current struggles.
Cure fears of Abandonment
Some women have a history of being abandoned by the important people around them. If this has happened to you, it can be a scary experience to get into another relationship. In order to prevent future hurt through a failed relationship, you make sure to act in a certain way to prevent this from happening. It is important to know that not all women who have been abandoned will react in the same way but a few examples include:
- Wanting to spend all your time with him,
- Making sure you know where he is at all times
- Checking his phone for messages from other girls
- Behaving in such a way that always keeps him happy.
Along with wanting to prevent abandonment, some women may fantasize about a perfect relationship which will cure abandonment. Thoughts such as these may stress that finding the right type of man will erase issues with abandonment. These thoughts and fantasies put the control over the issue in the hands of the man you are dating or want to date.
It is not his responsibility or in his control to cure your fears of abandonment. This leads to control on the part of the woman. You are the only one who has responsibility and control over your fears of abandonment. The only way to cure these fears is to acknowledge them and work through them yourself.
Earlier we discussed romance is healthy in a dating relationship. Sometimes along with the romance idea, women can equate this with a knight in shining armor who will come and rescue her from all her troubles. While romance in a relationship is healthy, hoping that a man can rescue you from your problems is not. No matter how great a guy he is or how great the relationship, he cannot erase the past.
If you were hoping this would happen, you will be disappointed in every relationship. No man or relationship can rescue you from the issues you face or the hurts that you have experienced. Once again, you are the only one can work through these issues.
Be Your “Project”
There’s this guy that is really cute and you want to date him, but you feel there are a few problems with him. You think to yourself, “If I date him I can help improve him. Then he will be marriage material.” Have you ever thought like this? Or has it been something like “If I date him, I can help him find the Lord, and then we would be perfect for one another.”
If any of you have tried to fulfill these thoughts, you find things do not go as planned. Maybe you help him accept Jesus as his savior, but then you find other things that you dislike about him. It is important to remember that if you think a man you want to date needs to be fixed, you should not be dating him.
What would it be like if you dated someone who felt like he needed to fix you? How would that make you feel? While you may really like someone and feel it is your job to help him change, this is not the purpose a relationship. Not to mention, you have no control over whether he changes and you will never have control over his behavior. No mother wants to have romance with her son. A relationship should be uplifting and supportive rather than negative and harmful.
If you or someone you know is struggling with loneliness, contact The Relationship Center. There are professionals who know how to help.