When it comes to Christian dating relationships, navigating all the advice on the subject can be tricky. You should spend intentional time with the other person but not so much time that you become consumed. You are asked to be vulnerable but not so vulnerable that it leads to compromising your physical boundaries. You try to ask deep questions but don’t want to rush a relationship. It can be challenging, confusing and downright exhausting to figure out how to date well.

But dating — whether in the early stages or the more serious stages — can be a way that you glorify God and enjoy Him.

Perhaps you are in a relationship, evaluating if it is the right fit for you. Perhaps you are in the beginning stages of getting to know someone. Or, perhaps, you are single and preparing for if/when God sees fit to give you a dating relationship. Regardless of the place you find yourself, you can enter every relationship knowing that God can and will use it to make you more like Jesus. 

These eight tips will help you choose the right person, be the right person and develop healthy rhythms.

Depending on your background with dating, it might feel overwhelming at times. You might not have a framework for dating as a Christian and are unsure of where to begin, or you might have grown up with too many different pieces of advice and now feel fearful of making a mistake.

Like any relationship, dating involves two people that are sinful. Despite your best efforts, you will naturally drop the ball as you learn about each other. Knowing this, it’s important to develop a pattern of relying on Jesus early and often. If your energy is spent on trying to date well, you simply will become exhausted, discouraged or distracted from the main thing. When this happens, begin to develop rhythms of prayer, accountability and returning to God’s word. 

As you trust God with your dating life more and more, ask Him to remove any anxiety or need for perfectionism. Let yourself completely rely on God’s love, wisdom and care for you as you navigate this new space. While it may feel daunting at times, you are surely not alone.

A relationship is a wonderful gift that can add to your life, but it can easily become problematic if it consumes your life. As a dating couple, you should be encouraging each other to grow together and separately.

Dr. Henry Cloud, co-author of “How to Get A Date Worth Keeping” and “Boundaries in Dating,” wrote a book called “Fantasy” that addresses common “dating diseases” people struggle with. One of these diseases is “dating from a vacuum.”

In short, dating from a vacuum usually happens when you begin a relationship looking to fulfill something missing within yourself. Pretty soon, you feel dependent and it invades all areas of your life — friendships, work, hobbies, etc.

A relationship is a joy, but consider how you spend your time so that it stays in its rightful place. Make sure both of you are engaging in activities that help you grow individually as people. A good rule of thumb is making sure you have time weekly set aside for friends, hobbies and personal reflection.

Dating, like any other intentional relationship, naturally requires time together. As such, the more time you spend side by side, the less time may be spent with other important people in your life.

A good way to make sure you’re not isolating yourselves into a corner where no one truly knows you is to invite people in quickly and ask for their feedback.

To think about this in an everyday scenario — consider what would happen if you ask your friends for an opinion before a big purchase. Now, what would happen if you showed them that same item after you purchased it and then asked for their opinion? To some degree, knowing you are already committed will change their ability to speak freely.

Before committing to an official dating relationship, commit to people that truly know you, that you trust, and that will tell you if they spot things you do not. Your emotions and attraction may unintentionally cause you to jump ahead of God’s timing and your own good. Ask for feedback frequently from people that can help you zoom out and see the relationship for what it is. 

Ultimately, you need people committed to God in your life to give you balance and perspective. You need input from individuals who are wiser than you. If you want your relationship to experience health on every level, you cannot date in a vacuum, devoid of others.