Sunday, July 14, 2013

three things i learned my first year of dating

I love searching the Internet for relationship articles, you wouldn't believe some of the stuff I come across. I do not claim to be an expert on relationships, but my blog focuses on young women & relationships, so I hunt.  I don't always necessarily agree with posts I find, but some truth is sprinkled in here & there & it becomes worth my while. My family hasn't chosen the dating route, but a good article anyway. 

hmmmm.... The Five Love Languages; I've read the book & truly a lot of it made sense, but I tend to stay clear away from anything that is Psychology based, however a good read & fun at that. The Bible is the best relationship resource around!  So, read on & tell me what you think. Sounds to me like James is on an adventure to be the man he is called to be.... he seems to know what he wants & is working on himself to get there. Hey, he certainly gets brownie points in my estimation :) 

Three Things I Learned My First Year of Dating

James and LaJoie
My girlfriend LaJoie (pronounced La-zhwa), and I completed our first year of dating one week ago. It’s been awesome. We’re one of the few couples who can pull off a solid long distance relationship (Texas and New York are pretty far apart!). It’s tough sometimes, but we knew what we were getting into. It’s been worth it, and we’re definitely in it for the long run.
I thought I’d pass on a little bit of GOLD to some of my guy friends. But there’s something in this post for everyone: young or old, man or woman, dumb or smart. If you haven’t yet been in that first relationship, or if you’re trying to figure out why that relationship didn’t have the Disney ending, then hopefully these three things can help a little.
I mean, they should. I did say they were “gold.”

1. Discover her love language

Every girl is different.
Okay, yes. Technically I’m wrong, because every girl will want free chocolate and a guy who can understand their feelings. (If you don’t know this as a guy, then you’re a boy and too young to date.)
What they really want is not just someone to love, but someone who loves them.
Big difference.
Upon hearing far too many respected individuals recommend Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, I eventually had to swipe (errr…borrow) my parents’ copy and read it.
Prior to reading the book, I went off of my mom’s description of the 5 languages and wrote down what I thought my love languages were and what I thought LaJoie’s were. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.
I found out that my #1 love language (words of affirmation) could easily be fulfilled in a text message. LaJoie’s #1 love language (quality time) required time spent talking.
Our relationship grew so much once I started calling her more and had meaningful conversations with her rather than just sending a text.
Speaking of me calling her…

2. Make sure you know your place in the relationship

I’m in control.
I am the anchor when the boat is rocking.
I am the comforter when we’re both weeping.
I am the one responsible for the overall health of the relationship.
But wait, James! Patriarchy is going away.
It’s being pushed out, but I really doubt the push will last. John Maxwell has famously been quoted, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” That includes marriages. Want marriages to rise? Want relationships to soar? Then someone better be steering the ship.
Sigh. Another pushy male.
On the contrary, LaJoie knows she has a HUGE say in our relationship. I may guide our conversations that require a decision, but our final decision is just that. Ours.
Not mine.
Not hers.
Before Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands in the often mis-quoted passage of Ephesians 5, he commands all people to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”1
I submit to Christ because I have reverence for his amazing life on earth, his resurrection from the grave, and his power at work in me.
And no man with that mindset who’s totally submitted to Christ would ruthlessly control his wife. That’s why Paul spends 3 verses talking to wives and the rest of the chapter talking to husbands.
Stand up, men. You have a lot of responsibility.

3. Set physical boundaries

Physical boundaries are, by far, the best thing we did for the relationship.
When we started dating a year ago, we only saw each other for about 48 hours before separating for four endless months (we didn’t know it would be four months at the time).
About a month out from seeing each other (that’s October for all of you who struggle with calendars and dates as much as I do), I thought it’d be wise to write out some physical boundaries for us. I’ve heard of other strong couples doing it with great success, and I like doing what other successful people do.
I made of list of things that were good for me and things that were not so good. I asked LaJoie to do the same and combined them into a single, unified list for us both to agree upon.
We’re not making it public because boundaries are meant to be put together on a case-by-case basis. You won’t find prebuilt fences at your local Lowe’s because no two yards are the same.
In the same way, no two relationships are the same. How you choose to setup your fence is up to you, but the foundational principles are the same for everyone. Don’t lust,2 treat each other like a sibling and not a spouse,3 and find ways to love each other in a God-honoring manner.4 Live outside of that, and you’ll run into problems, dissatisfaction, and emotional turmoil.
I do, however, want to share with you part of what I wrote at the beginning of the document:
“It is best for us to have a safe fence around our physical affections, giving us an area inside the boundaries to have fun. Below is a list of items we agree is beneficial for our spiritual health during the dating season of our lives.”
Beneficial for our physical and spiritual health. Yes, there’s a spiritual aspect to it. Maybe I’ll write on it sometime.
When LaJoie and I had agreed on our physical boundaries, I scheduled a phone call with her parents and shared with them my thoughts heading into the visit. They were very impressed by the list, felt honored to be included in the relationship,5 and gave me respect I didn’t ask for. As a man, it’s huge having the support of her parents, especially when you don’t get many face-to-face conversations with them.
When I went to visit her a few weeks later, we enjoyed staying inside the boundaries. It was great having her parents walk in the room and the two of us not be the least bit concerned about whether were doing something we shouldn’t.
This is the golden outcome of purity that is not, nor can ever be, accurately portrayed on TV.
I will admit that we bumped into our boundaries, or guardrails6 if you will, at one point in the relationship. It was my responsibility. But because the guardrails were placed so far from the edge of destruction, we never considered anything drastic, like breaking up. We fixed things, moved on, and our relationship is firmly intact.
Kids my age are average, living life at the edge of a cliff. I refused to be like “all the other kids.” They’re usually out of their relationship before the Taylor Swift song ends.


To the men, love your woman. Especially if you’re married. The core of this great nation is a strong family. If you’re still single, don’t ask God for a Proverbs 31 woman without first becoming a Proverbs 1-31 man.
To the women, don’t get antsy waiting for Mr. Right and end up settling for Mr. Right Now. Don’t date a man who doesn’t have a servant’s heart. Create a network around yourself of challenging, successful, and encouraging young women of God. Spend time with people who will be real with you, tell you the truth, and keep you on the straight and narrow.


  1. Wow!! What an awesome article - thank you so much for sharing this, Patrizia! This really blessed me!

    Thank you also for your comment on my blog - I really appreciate your encouragement!!

    Love in Christ,

  2. This was fantastic! Thank you, Patrizia! :-)

  3. Wow, great article! Loved the bit on love languages. I don't see it as psychology as much as just God has wired us all differently, and this is part of it. Also liked his balanced view on submission as leadership but not dictatorship.

    And my favorite line?

    "Boundaries are meant to be put together on a case-by-case basis. You won’t find prebuilt fences at your local Lowe’s because no two yards are the same." THANK YOUUUUUUUU.

    (Although I'm not quite gung-ho on treating a bf/fiancee as a "brother"....there's LOTS of things I would never do/say/etc. to my brother that I would with a significant other. :) But that's minor...)

    Anyway, great post! :)

  4. Very good post! Had good Biblical principles and guidelines but was very balance. I too like the love languages and don't really consider it psychology as much just learn how each other is wired. I totally agree with the guard rails and His balanced view of male leadership yet equality in the on! Thank you for sharing this. :)