Saying “I love you” in a Dating Relationship

Posted on July 28, 2014 by


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FROM A READER:

I was wondering what your thoughts are on those three big little words (I love you) in a dating relationship. I know of some single Christian girls who never want to hear those words from the guy they care about until he proposes. I also know that I don’t want to say them to every guy I’m ever interested in if that ends up being multiple people. I want my words to have weight – I really dislike the idea of a girl telling a guy “I don’t love you anymore” when something turns south; because what that really means is that she didn’t truly love him in the first place, she was just attracted to him. However, I am a very affectionate person, I like to build up people with words, and I care deeply about the man I am dating right now. How do you recommend exercising wisdom in this, and avoiding either being too closed off emotionally, or transparent in a way that is disrespectful to either him or our relationship?

FROM APRIL:

I don’t know that there is a rigid set of “rules” about this topic that are always right. My personal opinion on this is that it is almost always wise to allow the guy to say, “I love you,” first. I think that it could put way too much pressure on a guy if a girl declares her love for him first in many cases. Sometimes it may even scare him away if he is not feeling that he can say that to her yet.

I don’t like the idea of a Christian woman telling anyone, “I don’t love you anymore,” since the second greatest commandment is for us to love people with God’s love. God desires us to love ALL people the way that He does. Of course, that won’t mean we will date every man or marry every man. And there may be times we need to break up with a guy who is far from God or who is living in unrepentant sin or who God makes clear to us is not the choice He has for us. We may have to say, “I cannot stay in this relationship with you,” or something similar. But I think we can probably avoid saying, “I don’t love you.”

God’s love looks like this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… I Corinthians 13:4-8a

Yes, we may have romantic love for a man, and attraction. We will need those things in a relationship with a man we desire to marry. But more than that, we need the love of God for that man (and for everyone).

One thing that is confusing in English is that we only have one word for love that can mean many different things.

  • I love pizza
  • I love my cat
  • I love a sports team
  • I love my friends
  • I love my husband
  • I love my children
  • I love God

In Greek, there are different words for different kinds of love:

eros – romantic love

storge – family love (i.e.: parents’ affection for their children)

philia – brotherly love

agape – unconditonal godly love

I think a woman can show honor and respect, and yes, even love, to a man she is dating through her attitude, body language, facial expressions, interest when he is speaking, her smile, her tone of voice and her words of affirmation, honor, encouragement, blessing, genuine praise and sincere respect.

But I do think it is wise not to try to pressure or rush a man to go deeper into a relationship commitment before he is ready to do so willingly and voluntarily on his own. This is where I believe it can be a good thing to allow him to lead the way into deeper commitment – saying “I love you,” and initiating conversation about being in a committed relationship/engagement/marriage.

Please remember, ladies, I am always assuming that you are only dating men who are seeking Christ and who want to live for Him and want to walk in obedience to Him. If you are dating an unbeliever or a man who claims to be a Christian but does not live for Christ, please seek godly, trustworthy, biblical counsel! God does not desire His sons or daughters to marry unbelievers. He commands us only to marry someone who is “in the Lord.” And that means that person is really seeking Christ on his own, not that he goes to church and labels himself a Christian but then is totally fine with living in sin. I want to see each of you become the women God desires you to be and I long to see you have godly husbands, as well.

If a person who claims to be a Christian is comfortable living in unrepentant sin – there is a HUGE spiritual problem. Either that person’s conscience has been severely seared and they can no longer hear God’s voice and the Spirit’s prompting for conviction and repentance, or that person does not belong to Christ. A person who belongs to Jesus will be deeply grieved over any sin in his/her life and will want to repent as soon as they realize they are in sin and will want to have fellowship restored with God as soon as possible.

 

Much love!

 

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