Question: “I’m dating a girl, and I really like her, but my family and friends don’t. I’ve always believed in seeking wise counsel, and I have listened to their advice, but I don’t sense the Spirit leading me to call it off. What if you disagree with those you trust the most?”
Dating someone that your support system doesn’t approve of raises numerous questions for me as a relationship counselor and should for you if this situation describes your present relationship.
First of all, you could be right, and it is your family and friends who are wrong. If you have trusted them in the past, how often have you been in situations like this when they were wrong? Or, how many times have you initially thought you were right, but your family and friends were actually the ones who were right?
If your family and friends are Christ followers, as you have indicated they are, then something is wrong because the Holy Spirit who dwells in both you and them should be on the same page.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [Galatians 5:22-23]
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is peace. If the Spirit is leading you then you should have peace about your relationship and have patience with those who love you but don’t approve of your relationship.
Your family and friends’ disapproval of the person you are dating should cause you to reexamine your relationship. In doing so, there are a few important questions you need to ask and answer for yourself:
- Are the concerns of your family and friends valid?
- Could you possibly be in denial? What could cause you to be in denial?
- Has it been a long time since your last relationship? Do you feel this person may be your last shot at happiness?
- Is this special person so physically attractive that you feel lucky that he/she is even dating you?
- Are there warning signs—things you are ignoring or hope will change?
- Are your dating partner’s habits irritating but you are overlooking them?
- Are you in like, infatuated, in love with being in love, or are you actually in love?
Another question to address with yourself is: Are you sexually active with this person? If you are, it’s important to note that premarital sex often has dating couples avoiding issues that may cause conflict. When this is the case, couples are physically intimate but not emotionally and spiritually intimate. And unfortunately, these couples often marry thinking they know each other but they really don’t.
Your family—especially your parents, whether Christ followers or not—loves you, and they have tremendous insight into who will be a good partner for you and who won’t. And at times, they know you better than you know yourself. They’re not infallible, but they are usually right more often than they are wrong. Family and friends tend to be more objective than those in relationships because love sometimes clouds their objectivity.
As a counselor, hearing a person’s loving support system disapproves of his/her dating partner always signals caution flags. If your support system wants the best for you, why would they disapprove of the potential best for you? What are they seeing that you don’t—or you refuse—to see?
If you’ve reached a stalemate with those who love you, consider a weekend getaway with them and your boyfriend/girlfriend. Have an honest discussion with everyone expressing his or her concerns, including your significant other. With such a discussion, every conceivable concern or question could be addressed. Then, you could make a prayerful decision with family, friends and your significant other. With God not being a God of confusion, some clarity should surface.
Having your parents’ and friends’ blessing isn’t mandatory, but is a tremendous confirmation for a relationship. Slowing down your relationship until your support system gets to know your significant other better is usually worth waiting for.
If you know someone whose family doesn’t approve of his/her relationship, would you email them this post?
Photo credit: Lotte Gronkjaer