I remember when I had my first boyfriend. It was in middle school during the summer, and it was a kind of “spur of the moment” thing. A whirlwind romance, if you will. He was one of the most funny, popular boys in my summer camp and I immediately fell into friendship with him. (That’s always been my type, the funny, sweet guys). The only difference with this was that my intentions toward were strictly platonic. I had no idea that he was hiding his affections for me behind playful banter that would turn into flirtatious remarks. So when he asked me to the dance the camp was having, bearing gifts such as handmade bracelets and rings, I was completely taken off guard. But I said yes. Everyone kept telling me I should give it a chance. So I did, and many things followed after that, at my age, I couldn’t really understand. But the one thing I knew, was that I had been rushed and peer pressured into a relationship that should have been thought through. I was hardly ever happy because I felt smothered, and we didn’t have that much in common. I realized shortly after breaking up with him what I wanted for myself, and I knew what I wanted wasn’t going to come so easy.

     One thing I’m noticing about my generation is our hastiness when it comes to being with someone. I think sometimes we’re afraid to be alone, so we want to be the first ones to get engaged right out of high school and have children. This doesn’t go for all of us of course. Some of us are really lucky to find the one we’re gonna be spend the rest of our lives with, and it only takes a matter of months to know that. But for most of us, it takes hard work. Blood, sweat and tears. So this word was put on my heart (I don’t know if it was God or not), to talk about the benefits of taking things slow in relationships. I could unleash plethora of statics to prove that “slow and steady wins the race”, but instead, I’m sharing my own experiences. I think sometimes we as people learn better that way.

     There’s nothing wrong with having anniversaries and cute little pictures posted on Facebook after 3 months. Don’t get me wrong, it feels REALLY good to brag sometimes. But there is something kind of strange about busting out the “L” word after a couple weeks. Especially if you’ve done that in the last two relationships. I’ve seen may people hurt themselves by doing this, because once you say it, there’s no taking it back. That’s why it’s a word that should be kept sacred, so not to devalue it. 1 Corinthians 13:13 in God’s word says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”. Love has so much power in this world, but it has to be real. One thing I can truly say about myself is that when I love, I love with my whole heart. I have no problem sacrificing sleep for someone who needs prayer, and I have given so much grace to friends in the past when big mistakes were made. Sometimes though, I have been the one pushing things a little too hard. I’ve had to learn to take a step back from situations and just let it be what it is for the sake of people involved and what they might be going through. Taking a step back from what you’re looking at allows to see the full picture. The peace that comes with doing that I can’t get from myself. I have to ask God to help me put it in his hands. If it’s right, then it’s right.

     The other characteristic that’s tied in with love is trust. If you don’t trust someone, you can’t fully love them. And in order to fully know them you have to be around them for a long period of time. What good is it to be with a guy who has “One Direction” hair, but won’t give you his jacket when it’s cold. Or a girl who makes you look good in front of the guys, but is okay with making fun of homeless people. Before you say, “I love you”, check the facts. For me, I need at least a couple of months to look at someone’s personality before I open myself up to them. It’s different if you’ve been friends with that person for a long time. Maybe the two of you have been friends since childhood and you’re parents have joint barbecues and all of that. But meeting someone off the street is the equivalent of buying something from the black market.

                                                   Stranger = Dark-Alley Salesman

     I know I personally am not going to be dating for a long, long, LONG time. But I thought I would pass some tidbits down to those of you who are struggling with how to end the 10th date you’ve had with someone. Know yourself and what you want, and know that person and what they want. Another common phrase I hear from people is, “We have the rest of our lives to get to know each other” and in some ways that’s true. But here are a couple things you should know before claiming it’s love:

  1. Do they want children? If so, how many?
  2. What are their daily spending habits? (What’s their credit score)
  3. Are they abusive to you, even in a subtle way?
  4. Do they want to get married?

     If you know all the answers to those questions and they line up with yours, then I’d say you have a pretty good chance. God just wants us to be the most careful we can be in who we choose as our partner, and believe me when I say, you want someone who is going to challenge you to be the best version of yourself. That’s love.