A Single Man's Guide to Relationships

I think being in a relationship is like a writing a novel. You become inspired with the idea for your story and at first writing it can be easy, but once you realize you have to finish the whole thing you’re like “what the heck have I gotten myself into?” Anyways, I think dating and marriage have a lot of stigma today so I want to share some of my thoughts on them. I hope it helps.

What do you want out of dating? Why do you long to get married? What do you think marriage will be like? These are some common questions but I know for myself that I have to think about them before I can know what I’m doing in regards to dating. And I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never had a real girlfriend and truthfully prospects aren’t the best right now.

For so long, I’ve thought that dating someone will fill a deep hole in myself. And that ultimately marriage will fill that gap even more. And yeah, from what I’ve heard, marriage can be great in some ways but it’s also hard. Marriage is when you’re known as deeply as you can be by another person on earth. The closest couples share everything with each other and encourage each other and truly become “one.” But even married couples don’t know everything about each other.

I get it. It’s a little ridiculous that a single guy like me is writing a guide to relationships, but thankfully I have some help from more experienced writers.

In Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz, Don describes a conversation he had with his friend Paul about Paul’s marriage. He writes:

Paul continued. “I’m saying there is stuff I can’t tell her, not because I don’t want to, but because there aren’t words. It’s like we are separate people, and there is no getting inside each other to read each other’s thoughts, each other’s beings. Marriage is amazing because it is the closest two people can get, but they can’t get all the way to that place of absolute knowing.

Why can’t a married couple know and satisfy each other fully? Well, neither of them are God. Paul continues saying:

And I never thought after I got married there would still be something lacking. I always thought marriage, especially after I first met Danielle, would be the ultimate fulfillment. It is great, don’t get me wrong, and I am glad I married Danielle, and I will be with her forever. But there are places in our lives that only God can go.

Maybe the reason we think marriage will ultimately fulfill us is because of how we view love and happiness. I usually think about dating girls in regards to what they can give me. “What is their personality? How does it fit with mine? Does she like music and stories like I do? Is she awkward like me? How can I stop thinking about all of this?”

These are fine questions to ask but they’re all about me. I think myself and a lot of people focus more on how we receive love than how we give it. But we also do a pretty bad job of receiving love.

Jesus teaches in John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (ESV). Don Miller talks about this in Blue Like Jazz:

He [God] was saying I would never talk to my neighbor the way I talked to myself, and that somehow I had come to believe it was wrong to kick other people around but it was okay to do it to myself.

What if we stopped beating ourselves up? What if we learned to receive love from others so that they know their love is appreciated? What if you and I learned to accept love from God and others along with learning how to give it?

I think our entire way of thinking would change. And since we would think differently, we would seek happiness differently since our minds would be renewed.

Inventor and philosopher, Blaise Pascal phrased it like this:

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

What would marriage look like if we sought happiness by both receiving and giving love like Christ? Or even more, what if we sought happiness in God first and realized that we don’t need romantic relationships? Whoa, whoa, I know that sounds crazy but do we need romantic relationships to be content? God calls people to marriage and others to singleness, but He calls everyone to satisfaction in Him.

Let’s get practical now. I know. You know. We both know. You’re interested in someone. I feel dumb for quoting Adam Levine but he sings a song called “No One Else Like You.” In it he says, “Everyone wants someone, that’s one cliché that’s true.” And yeah, it’s pretty much true. Way to go, Adam.

So how are you going to approach this person you’re interested in the next time you see them? Or maybe you’re already in a relationship. Whatever the case, I encourage you to reflect on the words of Jesus in Luke 6:31, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (NASB). Take a moment today when you see that special someone and think about loving them and enjoying who God made them to be, rather than thinking of all the ways they don’t stack up with your idea of a perfect spouse. Only God knows how it’ll go from there.

Ben Reagan is a sophomore at Bryan College who’s busy trying to figure out his major when he’s not having deep and humorous conversations with friends. He enjoys writing poetry, songs, fictional stories, and accidentally placing himself in countless awkward situations.