Keep Things Out in the Open (Part V)
I’ve been sharing how to whoops-proof your dating life by refusing to date in isolated places where you expect to have privacy. More recently we’ve been addressing specific situations where that simply doesn’t seem practical and now we address this one final reason for feeling the need for privacy: “I’ve never told anyone what I need to tell my boy/girlfriend! It’s just too personal.”
So, you have something sensitive you need to share with your significant other. Perhaps it’s a heart wound you’ve never had the courage to share with anyone. Maybe it’s something you’ve done that no one else knows about.
If that is you, please believe me, I want nothing more than for you to find the healing and wholeness you so desperately desire (and need).
However,you must also believe me when I tell you that a romantic relationship is NOT the best context for walking through private pain or sharing true confessions for the very first time.
I’m going to say that again. If you need to make a disclosure you’ve never made before, it would be best for you to make that confession to someone who is NOT your love interest
I know that’s hard to believe, because in the movies all wounds are healed, all questions answered, all emptiness filled, and all sadness banished in the context of romantic love.
But in real life, romantic relationships have a tendency to cause more pain than they heal, complicate more issues than they clarify and leave more people feeling empty than filled. This is why half of all marriages end in divorce, because the romantic love that draws two sweethearts together is simply not strong enough to sustain the trials of life.
But do you know what kind of relationships have a higher propensity for healing and wholeness? Deep abiding friendships. Relationships involving no tingly-bingly feelings, no sexual tension, no romantic component at all. There may be some chemistry and compatibility involved, but what holds the relationship together is character and commitment.
Think of Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings. In fact, the third film in the series shows the kind of friendship I’m talking about like almost no other film. Sad that one of the best Hollywood examples of an intense, intimate relationship between two heterosexual males is a fantasy (as if in real life males don’t desire such intimacy unless it’s sexual) and the characters are imaginary creatures (as if humans couldn’t share at such depths).
But you CAN and you MUST share more than one platonic friendship with members of your same sex for a healthy life. Specifically, you need to learn how to be intimate with others for whom you care deeply – without sexual overtones.
My friend, Nate Larkin, said it best when he told me, “We all have same-sex needs. They’re just not sexual.”
Do you have a friend like I’m describing?
If not, I’m going to ask you to do a very difficult and courageous thing. I’m going to ask you to put your dating pursuits on hold until you do, because you are in a very dangerous place. You are seeking romance over friendship and you can’t be a great lover if you can’t be a great friend, because the connection of romantic love is produced largely by chemical reactions.
That’s why after just one magical first date, you can feel like you’ve “known someone your whole life.” Obviously, you DON’T know them, but the endorphins and Serotonin are telling you that you do.
In a friendship that you’ve developed over the course of months (or better yet years), you DO know them, and they you. And you’ve chosen to love each other anyway, even though you’ve come to recognize many things on which you don’t agree and a few things you find annoying. This is the kind of intimacy your soul really craves – even from your dating partner and certainly from your life partner.
So if you were planning on making a first time revelation to your special someone, please prayerfully consider making that revelation to another trusted friend first. And if you don’t have a friend like that, then to a pastor or counselor. You are MUCH more likely to get the help you need from them, as there will be no romance chemicals interfering in the relationship.
And then, with the support and in the presence of that friend/pastor/counselor, meet with your boy/girlfriend to walk through these issues you’ve held inside for so long.
We started out this DNA series with the goal of keeping you and your date from succumbing to sexual temptation, but over the course of these 5 posts we find that the recommendation to “keep things out in the open” is about far more than sexual purity. This Date Night Advice is all about your emotional, relational and spiritual health.
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better? And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!