When My Parents Didn’t Like My Date

With my Facebook newsfeed dominated by status updates of engagements, weddings, and babies, I thought it was best I got my act together or risk growing old alone.

I had long given up hope of meeting anyone at work, and even though I do sporting activities like swimming, it is such an individual sport that it is almost impossible to meet anyone. Besides, the swim squad that I am with comprises mostly students and their parents.

So, I did what I assumed most single Millennials would do: I signed up on a few online dating sites. I figured since we spend so much of our time online—from following our favourite bloggers to shopping—it made sense to also meet potential dates online.

After taking a few recommendations from a friend, I duly created an account for each of the sites, filled out my profile, and took extra care to answer the various questionnaires. You see, I didn’t want to jinx my chances of meeting the right person, so I made sure my answers were honest enough, but I was careful not to give too much away, to protect my identity.

But boy did the weirdos roll in. One asked if I would move to Christchurch, New Zealand, if we “clicked”—I live in Auckland—after we had exchanged all of two chat messages. He said he wasn’t looking to waste his time, and if I couldn’t promise that I’d move to another town for him, then he’d like to move on.

Another said he liked Asian women because they were “kind, obedient, and had a nice figure”. Needless to say, I blocked him as fast as I could. And don’t get me started on one of the other dates, who turned out to be really gross. Besides making highly inappropriate comments, he seemed to fail to grasp the concept of personal space—he kept pressing in close to me. I had to make up excuses to flee within half an hour of meeting him. Fortunately, we had met at a cafe that was only a five-minute drive from my house, which made it easy for me to execute my exit.

I did meet a few decent guys online, but nothing serious came out of those encounters. There was a paramedic who was really nice, but conversations were stilted. I also connected with a Canadian, who happened to be in New Zealand for a short cycling tour. But while we got on relatively well, there was no telling when he would be back in this part of town again. Needless to say, that one died a natural death.

So imagine my delight when I eventually found someone whom I connected with. On paper, he seemed eligible enough; he was an engineer who also enjoyed reading and surfing. We started chatting online, and I thought, “Perfect! My patience has paid off!” After a few weeks of exchanging text messages, we decided to meet in person to see if we’d enjoy each other’s company.

Our first date, at a nearby cafe, went on for four hours, which I thought was a good sign. Previous dates had me checking my watch every second, hoping for the hour to be up.

Naturally, when he asked if we could hang out again, I agreed. A few more dates followed, and soon I was texting my friends to tell them how much fun I was having. When he bought a bouquet of flowers from the supermarket, I thought, “How cute!”

So all in all, it looked like things had fallen into place and we decided we would make the relationship “Facebook official”. When friends and acquaintances commented on how cute we both looked together (when they saw our photo on Facebook), I replied, “I know, right? He’s great!”

At that stage, we had been going out for only a month. But when he asked if he could meet my parents, I didn’t think twice about it. You see, having heard stories from friends with partners who wouldn’t commit despite being together for years, I thought it was sweet of my date to make that effort. “After all, I would have to meet them eventually,” he said. Furthermore, his parents, who lived in the UK, were making plans to meet up when they heard I would be visiting the country later. As for my date, he had moved to New Zealand about three years ago after he was made redundant back in the UK.

When I told my dad that my date wanted to meet them over lunch, he accepted the invite. When the day rolled round, I was nervous about how the lunch would go, and hoped my parents would like him.

Alas, they didn’t.

I was devastated. “But why?” I asked. There were tears and long conversations with my sister and my dad. Eventually, my dad said he felt there was something “not quite right” with the guy, and his instincts were telling him that this man wasn’t the one for me. Next came the blow: I had to break up with him because my dad didn’t think anything good would come out of it.

“But it’s so hard to meet someone that I can get along with,” I said, dismayed. I was ready to argue that it was impossible to suss out the character traits of someone over lunch, so how would my dad know “something was not right”? There were times when I made a rash judgment about someone, only to find out later how nice and kind the person really was.

But my dad is a good judge of character. Later, he told me that he suspected that there was more to my date than he had let on, and that his body language had given him away. On hindsight, I should have picked up on the red flags. For one, he wasn’t a Christian. Second, I remembered how agitated he had become when a tour guide was a few minutes late picking us up for a tour. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but he kept prancing down the hallway, checking his watch, while muttering about how late the tour guide was (the guide showed up five minutes past the hour). There was also the time, when we were out on a double-date with my sister, where he helped himself to most of the food on the table without offering any to others.

And then there were the many nights when he’d have me hanging out with him until quite late, forgetting that I had to wake up early for work. I hadn’t thought that this would be an issue, but as my dad said, being considerate of other people’s needs never goes out of style.

So, I did what I had to do and called it quits with the guy. Needless to say, he didn’t take the news very well, and within 24 hours, deleted me from his Facebook friend list. Later, he sent me a private message to say he was sorry for the “knee jerk reaction” but as he was “falling in love” with me, he was hurt by my decision to break up with him.

While some of my friends understood my reason for heeding my dad’s advice, a few were shocked at my decision. “But you were so happy with him!” they said, “And it’s not for your parents to say if you can or can’t see someone.” It wasn’t easy, but I knew that in these circumstances, I had to listen to my parents because they were a lot wiser than I am in terms of relationships.

Movies will have us believe it’s a lot more romantic to follow our hearts and to run away with our beloved—and tough luck to our parents and their fuddy-duddy advice.

However, I have seen friends who refused to take their parents’ advice, and are finding themselves in difficult marriages (I have also seen the opposite, but more on this another time). Seeing these real-life examples help me better appreciate the verses like Proverbs 1:8-9, which liken the advice of our parents to a garland to grace our head and a chain to adorn our neck. There is value and beauty in our parents’ well-intended advice; they do have our best interests at heart.

American pastor Gary Thomas and author of The Sacred Search wrote, “Your parents know you better than you may realize, and even if they aren’t believers (Christians), they still usually want the best for you. At least consider their opinions . . . Also, talk to your pastor and other godly people you respect: ‘Does this relationship seem like a ‘fit’ to you? Are there any areas you’re concerned about?’ ”

Sure, no one is perfect. I wasn’t looking for Mr Perfect and I am far from Miss Perfect. But it was the culmination of all these things which made me realize, looking back, that breaking up with him was probably a good thing. Sometimes we make excuses for our date’s bad behaviour, thinking the person would change once we tie the knot. But more often than not, that doesn’t happen. I was deeply unhappy about it in the beginning, but I had made up my mind and there was no turning back.

Perhaps you’re in a similar situation where the person you’re dating hasn’t been given your parents’ stamp of approval, and you think your parents are a killjoy. Whatever the reason might be, I’d like to encourage you to listen to your parents, and seek out their reasons behind their objections. It doesn’t mean that we must always take in everything they say, but at the very least, we should give their advice some thought.

Though it might be a little hard to swallow, I believe that it will be worth your while in the long run, just as it was for me. A wise friend said, “There are worse things than being alone.”


God’s Will Isn’t Found in Books

Written By Ana Chavarria, USA

As Christians, we are known for believing that we are to follow what the Bible tells us to do. Sometimes, this gives others the impression that we serve a God who has an unending list of commands that we need to follow.

The reality is quite the opposite. In many aspects of our lives, the Bible does not give us rigid instructions on what we should do. Instead, God gives us guidelines—and the freedom to choose how we want to live our lives.

For instance, the Bible does not have an explicit set of rules on dating. As a result, many of us tend to turn to books about “how-to-date-the-godly-way” for guidelines about relationships.

When I was 14 years old, someone passed me a book on dating which became everything to me. I tried to follow everything it said to a tee. I forgot that while it offered some valuable lessons that came from the Bible, it was not the Bible. Instead, I mistakenly took the Bible verses given by the author as validation that all his “rules on dating” were from God. I remember that the book kept repeating that “courtship” was the only godly way to start a relationship, and that “dating” was not purposeful and could lead to sinful acts. By courtship, he meant not going out just as a couple, always having a chaperone around, and keeping the physical contact to holding hands. Dating, to him, was more of an exclusive relationship. It made sense when I read the author’s experience with courtship and how it worked out for him.

As a result, I grew up thinking that dating was basically a sin and it was wrong to express my feelings to someone. I ended up keeping all my feelings within and this gave me a lot of unnecessary stress.

When I started attending college, I befriended people who were in very godly and healthy relationships. I started to question my beliefs about dating and realized they had a very weak foundation. I wasn’t so sure anymore. All around me, I heard great stories of how God led my friends to the right person in different ways. It was like seeing for the first time that God works in a personal way.

That’s when I realized that what might have worked for the author of that book might not work for me, or for somebody else. Perhaps that’s why we sometimes get frustrated trying to abide doggedly by a set of steps that are said to lead to “godly living”. When we do that, we may not be allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our lives in a personal way.

Christian books and biblical counsel can provide guidance and answers to questions often asked in the Christian life. But they can also distract Christians from the most important thing—our personal relationship with God. If we are really seeking His face every day, He is going to show us His way for us individually.

Think of it this way: there are many books on dating, and each book is going to say what the author has learned about the subject. How do you know for sure which one is absolutely right, and which one to follow? Each author has a unique set of struggles which brought him or her to the place he or she is at now. It was that experience which made him or her write a book full of life lessons and advice for Christians.

Today, I am dating a guy who lives and glorifies God in everything he does. And that makes me want to be a better person every day. It’s an amazing experience to be able to journey together with the one you love towards God.

That said, God has different plans for each one of us. Christian life is not about determining who does it better or trying to model after others; it’s about letting go of yourself and letting God take over your life. You will be surprised by what He is able to do. Trust in Him and He will lead you to the path He has planned just for you!

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”—John 8:31b-32


Dating: Are we getting it right?

Written By Eric Kai Ho Chan, Canada

We’ve all heard about the “right” way in which we should go about dating, and have been taught what is right and wrong. And we teach the same lessons to others, or judge others by the same standards. While these lessons are correct, we may not always teach them the right way or in the right spirit. Here’s some questions to think about:


1. Virginity: Are we forgiving?

Most Christians know that pre-marital sex is wrong. Scripture is clear about the importance of virginity (Leviticus 21:10–15), and the principle is so well-known that I knew about it even before I became a Christian. Many of us have also been taught about the aftermath of pre-marital sex, and how it affects both parties and their view of relationships and sex.

All this is right, of course—we should teach others about God’s law on sex and why it is important to be a virgin until we marry.

But what if some Christian singles have made mistakes in the past and are no longer virgins? Do our self-righteous or holier-than-thou attitudes make them feel like “damaged goods”? Does our constant emphasis on the issue make virgins view non-virgins negatively, as if they had committed an unpardonable sin from which they can never recover?

We need to be more forgiving. After all, we are all sinners and have stumbled in different ways. The book of Hosea tells us about how the prophet not only forgave his wife Gomer for her sinful past, but also forgave her repeatedly when she committed adultery again. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that Christians are new creations. Let’s remember that it is important to forgive others and to forgive ourselves—and to teach others to do the same.


2. Dating: Are we being realistic?

Many of us are reminded to observe boundaries when we are dating, so that we do not fall into temptation. This of course is proper. Some of us may have also been advised not to date casually or told to avoid physical contact altogether. We may have been supervised in our courtship, or even tried to restrict others the same way.

Is this realistic? It is impossible to supervise a couple all the time. Besides, we may end up with couples behaving properly only because they know someone is watching, and not because they feel it is right. They may break the rules the moment the supervision is lifted.

Instead, I believe we should learn—and teach others—to be self-supervising “Josephs”, so that we can recognise temptation and flee from sexual immorality (Genesis 39:11-12). Then we will observe boundaries and know how to behave for the right reason.

The right values can also help to guide our motivations in how seriously we take dating and relationships—such as how far we should go if we are not considering marriage as an eventual possibility.


3. Dating Christians only: Are we discouraging?

The Bible talks about the risks of being unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). I believe that Christians should only date Christians, and also learn to discern the spiritual maturity of their dates.

But do we give singles enough encouragement and opportunities to interact with each other? Far too often, our ministries in and outside church tend to focus on children and married couples. Or we may even subtly discourage dating. This may prompt some of them to date people outside their circle of Christian friends, including non-Christians.

Perhaps we should try to grow a culture that more open to dating and encourage interaction between young people of opposite gender. We can organize social events for Christian singles in the community, and encourage them to interact with their peers in other churches and at events.


5 “Harmless” Dating Tips

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, you may have encountered at least one of these five things I have been told about dating. Perhaps the advice was given out of good intentions, but more often than not, it left you feeling frustrated and miserable. Some of the “facts” seemed to be true at first—but turned out otherwise. If you’ve been told some tips about dating, perhaps it’s time to pause and mull over the “advice”, and consider how we really should respond.

Tip #1: A bit of jealousy can help.

You may be at a stage where you’re wondering whether you are meant to be with this guy, or whether there is any hope of the relationship going anywhere. Then, just as you’re starting to get frustrated, someone gives you this piece of advice: A bit of jealousy can help. All you have to do is to introduce another guy into the equation, and that will stir a little jealousy and competition, and eventually force that special someone to reveal his true feelings towards you.

While this might “work” in some situations, I am not convinced that it is a good nor wise move to make. There must be a better way to conduct ourselves, as we are called to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and exhibit love—which is kind, does not dishonor others, does not envy, and is not self-seeking, among other things (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). And by making the other party “jealous”, could we unknowingly cause him to sin? The Bible makes it clear that jealousy leads to evil. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Tip #2: It happens when you least expect it.

I am sure most of us would have heard this before. Hollywood has created false expectations of love and romance that make us think that perhaps, Prince Charming will simply appear at our doorstep one day. We love that warm, fuzzy feeling that romantic movies stir in us, and we long for serendipity to happen in real life.

Now I must admit that I am quite a hopeless romantic. At times, I do let my heart rule my head. But let’s not allow our minds and hearts to get trapped in this thought, lest we face deep disappointment and despair when there’s no sight of Prince Charming riding towards us on his white horse.

Instead, it may be good to dwell on this wisdom from Proverbs instead: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). Let’s trust that the Lord will lead the way in His own timing. He’s the one who determines our path in life.

Tip #3: You have to play hard to get.

You’ve got to admit: we all love a bit of a chase. You try your best to appear uninterested while inside, your heart is leaping for joy. You do this to induce a chase or pursuit—you want him to want you. But playing hard to get can be a dangerous game. While a chase may take place naturally in dating, trying to create one artificially might just backfire and create more problems. We don’t want to build a relationship based on manipulation.

Have we treated dating too much like a game, and ended up with unnecessary heartache when the other party didn’t take the bait? Are there better ways to assess the other party’s level of interest? How can we be open, mature, and sincere about our feelings (Romans 12:9), so that we can truly understand each other’s expectations and wants? Having a healthy start may just be the key to ensuring a successful, blossoming relationship.

Tip #4: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

We may come across several people before we meet the one. Perhaps you subscribe to the thinking that if you distribute your eggs around many baskets, it increases your chances in finding that certain someone.

But committing to someone requires our 100 percent. We should not be afraid to be open and honest about what we’re like, and at the same time, really get to know a guy for who he is. I can’t help but wonder how one can fully invest emotionally in a relationship when there is more than one basket to tend to. Note of caution: There is always a chance that things may not work out at the end of the day.

What if a relationship that you’ve committed 100 percent to doesn’t work out? Don’t worry, there’ll be other opportunities. God has your best interests at heart, just as Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Tip #5: A guy has to love you more than you love him.

What most people mean by this is that you should have high expectations of the one who is trying to chase you. He needs to do all the fancy romantic stuff—you just need to sit back and soak it all in. So what if you aren’t sure about him just yet? That’s okay because, one, he’s a decent guy; and two, he really likes you, you know.

Well, let’s be completely honest with ourselves. If a guy loves you more than you love him, could that mean that there isn’t 100 percent commitment on your side? He may soon realize this, and in return, decide to put in only the same amount of effort you’re willing to invest into the relationship. Now, that wouldn’t be so nice, would it?

Perhaps we should follow the wisdom of Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

If the advice you’ve been given up to this point has caused you to believe that there is a fixed way to date, scratch that. There is no secret formula to finding someone. Each relationship will be unique, and so will each dating experience. You will make mistakes, but it’s what you learn and make of them at the end of the day that counts.

To avoid being pulled in different (and wrong) directions when dating, talk to God and look to Him for guidance and discernment. Be open and honest with Him. Believe it or not, He is interested in everything about you, even your first date. So commit to the Lord your heart’s desire, and pray for His guidance. Make your relationship a prayerful process.