Dr. Jim provides advice on the process of having a healthy relationship in the online dating scene and steps to take (and not take) to find your perfect match.
Dear Jim: Are there general guidelines for screening people that perhaps I can use in the future to avoid the bad experience I had?
You are one of many who have written to me with a similar question. Yes, I do believe that some guidelines SHOULD be created (called boundaries) as you approach any relationship – especially over the Internet.
Guide to start a successful relationship Online
- The first one is NOT to develop any undue expectations PRIOR to meeting one in person. Approaching the subject of marriage before even meeting should be a sign that “expectations” are getting ahead of the process. I could not state this too strongly. Would also suggest that approaching the subject of marriage even after meeting for the first period of time should not be done. The single biggest cause of heartache in finding relationships is unrealistic expectations.
Often people who meet initially over the Internet are guided by their feelings and not their head. There has to be something in common for one to even write to another person. The words put down on paper are a small inkling into the total being of another person.
If you find someone approaching you and soon talking about marriage, let it be a red flag that the Holy Spirit is sending up to protect you. Am not saying that you should bring it to a halt, but proceed with GREAT caution. So many things make a good relationship – and initial compatibility is only one of many ingredients that you want. Candidly, almost anyone can “put on an act” consciously or subconsciously for a period of time. They may not be doing it intentionally, but their “needs” may be driving them and you are not seeing the total person. Wait and walk through a period of time so that the total person in each of you has time to surface.
Please take the time for the “process” to unfold whether or not this is the one for you.
- Along these lines, use thought and consideration when setting up to have the first face-to-face meeting. In my opinion, the woman should set the place and time. Both parties should be sure that a close friend or family member knows all the details of the meeting. Do not stray from these boundaries. Also, be accountable so that you are not unduly tempted. Give thought to meeting in a group setting???
- I hear in almost every email on this question some words to the effect that “God was so real and obvious to both of us that He had destined our meeting”. My dear single friend, this depends upon the basis each of you is using to allow God in your process. More often than not we are so lonely or desperate to cover over past hurts that our vision is clouded.
- There is no substitute for a good close Christian buddy to help you sort through these times. If you have not taken the time to go through the process to do everything possible to be able to make healthy decisions – then I suggest that you consider finding a great counselor to guide you through the process.
A woman Advisor to our ministry shares this input:
- Meet in a public place, broad daylight
- Always let your loved ones know the particulars of where you will meet
- Take a cell phone if you can
- Do not give out your last name or phone number
- Do not let him walk you to the car
- If you are the paranoid type, ask for phone numbers as references… not a threat to an honest man. Especially a work phone number… you can make sure he really works there.
- Be aware, rape and sexually transmitted diseases can happen to Christians too
God really cares about all our needs and desires
We are all very human and the desires are very strong. Use the bad episodes as learning experiences and move forward. God really cares about all your needs and desires. Often He uses others to speak to us as well as His prompting in our spirit.
May He provide the care and love you need and bless you. I am praying for you and hope that He is using my words to reveal His love to you.