How to Never Lose Again in a Dating Relationship

Are you done “losing” in dating relationships? I know a girl who recently started dating, and she’s certain that this relationship is going to be a “win.”

How can she be so sure?

Not because she’s necessarily going to marry this guy. Of course, that’s the desired outcome. But marriage isn’t the goal.

If marriage is the goal of dating, then any dating relationship that doesn’t end in marriage is a failure. But if the goal of dating is learning to love another, then even if that relationship doesn’t end in marriage, it will have been worth it. I mean, come on, who doesn’t need to grow in love?!

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

So she’s having a little competition with her boyfriend. They’re taking Romans 12:10 seriously. You might call it their north star:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

See, the goal in singleness and the goal in marriage isn’t as different as we make it out to be. The goal is learning to love another flawed human being with Christ’s unconditional love.

You know what’s really cool? As this girl practices loving her boyfriend well, she sees that same pattern seeping into other relationships. As she seeks to “outdo him in showing honor,” she finds herself doing the same in other relationships. Pretty sweet, huh?

How about you? If you’re dating (or have dated or hope to date someday) what do you think the goal is? How can you make sure you never lose again in a dating relationship—even when marriage isn’t a guarantee?

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York.

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  • Becca

    I got apprehensive when I read “Marriage isn’t the goal” but it got better as I read on. I think that while learning to love another person is certainly a good goal to have while dating, it shouldn’t necessarily be the be-all and end-all. I think that the main goal in dating should be discovering who God wants you to marry. You may not marry your boyfriend, but you should intend to find out whether or not you should marry each other. All the principles presented in this post (i.e. learning to love with brotherly love according to Romans) are excellent guidelines, but the end goal should be clarified: not always marriage, but discovering if you should marry.

    • phendricks

      Agree, Becca. Thanks for that!

  • Alex

    I love this! I’ve never dated before, but I’m so hesitant to let someone be my “first boyfriend.” There’s so much pressure that my first boyfriend has to be the one, because if they’re not, then I failed. I agree with Becca that marriage should always be the hope, and you shouldn’t date someone you wouldn’t consider marrying, but it takes so much pressure off of you and the guy to not automatically assume you’re marrying each other. I have a friend who recently started dating her first boyfriend. She doesn’t know if they’ll end up married, but through spending a lot of time in prayer, she thinks that this is where God wants her in the moment, and I think that’s a good place to be.

    • phendricks

      Dear Alex,

      Pressure’s off! You can breathe now. 🙂

      Enjoy loving him well,

      paula

  • Joy

    Hi I am 14 years old and all my friends are in relationships or have been in relationships and I am the only one who hasnt but my friends always ask me why I havnt been in a relationship yet and I just tell them that if God wanted me in a relationship I would be in one and they don’t really get it they say that being in a relationship this young is just for fun and that any guy would die to have me as their “girlfriend”! I personally think that I am to young and so are all my friends to be dating and telling people of the opposite gender they love them! My personal goal is not to be in a relationship till I’m at least 20 and the guy that God has for he shows himself;)

    Thanks for this post!

    Joy

    • phendricks

      Dear Joy,

      You are one smart cookie. Until a girl is ready for marriage, I’d encourage her to focus on learning to love guys well as friends/brothers in Christ–nothing more.

      Grateful for you,

      paula

    • Brenda Adeli

      Hey Joy!
      To tell you the truth, I’ve been in the same situation as you. I’ve haven’t dated or had any boyfriend till now, and I’m 18. When I was a sophomore, I made a promise to God that I won’t date or have any boyfriends in my youth (high school). I told him that I want to learn what is love from him and first love him with all my heart. I want him to know that I want to love him before I love a guy. Love is God, God is love… how can I love/like somebody if I don’t know God. Times have changed and people are dating really young cause they want to have fun and that they want to have somebody to love them. But no one is at that age to date or have a boyfriend/girlfriend. I had some friends that laughed at me and/or thought I was crazy!! And I’ll admit, there was temptation of being loved.
      But I knew in my heart this was right. You should never make a promise to God if you know you can’t handle it. He gave me strength when I needed and now, I’m proud to say I made my promise to God and I’m still single and I’ll wait when the time is right.

      • Joy

        Hey Brenda!
        Thanks for that! It always helps to know there are people out there who know and/or going through the same thoughts as I am (people who are even older then me too) 😉
        Thanks again for the encouragement!
        Stay Strong in the Lord!
        Joy

  • Amber

    This was a great help! I recently had my first boyfriend and I got burned really bad. This guy was a guy I trusted and thought I knew pretty well. I liked him a lot and when he asked me out I thought about it and then said yes with no looking back. He said he loved me and everything but due to several reasons he dumped me for another girl he hadn’t known nearly as long as me. We don’t see each other anymore because his family has changed churches and is no longer attending our church. My first relationship was a totally disaster! So I’m a little hesitant to just jump right into a relationship again…kinda because I don’t want to go through it all again. There is a really amazing, Christian guy in my life who I see pretty often that sees eye to eye with me on many issues, including dating. His little sister and my little brother are seeing one another and everyone says we would be a cute couple but I’m not making any moves, this time I’m letting God’s timing play a key role!! Thanks Paula!

    • phendricks

      Good for you, Amber! I encourage you to keep seeking to love him well without expecting anything in return.

  • Diana

    I believe that we have to save ourselves for the one guy that God has planned for us. We shouldn’t go and open our heart to guys that we date, if we open ourselves to these guys, what will be left for your true future husband that God has planned for you? I believe we have to pray about it and keep ourselves pure!

    How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. (‭Psalms‬ ‭119‬:‭9‬ NKJV)

    Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (‭Psalms‬ ‭37‬:‭5‬ NKJV)

  • Kayla

    So let me get this straight I’m supposed to love every ( I’m not dating yet, future)boyfriend I have?I thought you were supposed to save your heart for your future husband?I don’t want to give him whats left of it…

    • McKay

      Hi! I think what she means is that we are supposed to love our (future) boyfriend(s) as, as cliche as this is, brothers in Christ, because no matter whether we’re dating him or not, he is still a fellow follower of Christ whom we should love and respect. We are supposed to love every single one of them in a practical, brotherly way along with having romantic love/affection for them. I know this is sometimes confusing (it sure is for me!) when we read the Bible because the original language it was written in had multiple words for love that meant somewhat different things, which I find really interesting! Hope this helps! In Christ, McKay.

      • Kayla

        Ok I get it now.thx 🙂

    • CT

      As far as what I think, love in this sense (and the original meaning of love) is putting others above yourself (see 1 Corinthians 13). It doesn’t HAVE to include romantic feelings; in this sense it’s probably talking about the selflessness type of love.

  • Leloh

    .one lesson learnt is that i should love others with their flaws, we after all are not perfect beings even thou we strive to be. as for the dating ..i will have to awaken my love completely for the man i will marry. i really hope i will love him and accept his flaws since we will be humans both trying to strive to live in the footsteps of the most high.

  • Brooklyn Mikinzie

    When I date someday, I want to focus on getting to know the guy, and figuring out if hes husband and father material. I would love him; not an ooey gooey, physical love but a love like he is my brother in Christ. If said relationship progressed towards marriage, I would work on loving with a gentle compassionate love like a wife should have.
    I think that, when a relationship doesnt lead to marriage, you dont lose unless you gave your entire heart to him. If you keep away from everything physical and are just getting to know each other, then you havent lost your heart.
    Its kinda hard for me to read these posts because, well… Im only 14 and yet to experience a dating relationship. But I think its important to prep my heart now forwhen a relationship does come. Lack of experience leads me to hear from other experiences and try to dodge as many mistakes as possible. Does that make sense? 🙂

    • jiujitsulover

      Yes, that does make sense. 🙂 I am sorta doing the same thing. Yes, I want a boyfriend. But that doesn’t mean that I would be willing to have a “bad boyfriend”.
      (I got that from the post “Sweeter than Honey or Grapes” 🙂 Here: http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/sweeter-than-honey-or-grapes/ )
      I too am “using” other people’s mistakes to learn from and then maybe not have them happen to me. Hpe that makes sense. 🙂 God bless!

  • JU

    Love is a decision!

  • Hailey

    Thanks for this! Back when I turned 16 in January (which is when my parents said I could date) I prayed asking God if I SHOULD have a boyfriend. After a few weeks, I got the idea that NO God doesn’t want me to have a BF. For several months, it was easy to not think about dating. Then, Texas Boy showed up. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a gentleman. He charmed me, and convinced me to go to a Concert that I was already going to be working at. By God’s grace, it didn’t work out and I still have yet to go on a date. I am doing my best to be his friend but still keep a safe distance from him(cause he’s got a crush on me) anyways THANK YOU!

    • Paula Hendricks

      Dear Hailey,

      Do you mind if I ask specifically how you “got the idea that NO God doesn’t want [you] to have a BF”?

  • Jordan

    But whenever I love my boyfriends I always get hurt…. I can’t love if that’s all that ever happens… What kind of love do you mean??

    • Brooklyn Mikinzie

      The kind of love she means is a love like he is a Child of God, your brother in Christ. Not a romantic love. Does that make sense? 🙂

    • Paula Hendricks

      Dear Jordan,

      I’m not talking about lust but love. Love isn’t needy, needy, gimme, gimme. Love serves. Love sacrifices for another.

      1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

      While you and I probably won’t ever have to die for others like Jesus did; we can die to our own selfish desires as we seek to serve them.

      God’s design isn’t just for one-way love, though. Check out the end of Ephesians 5 to see how He commands your future husband to love you–as Christ loved the church by laying down His life for her!

      Hope that helps,

      paula

  • denise

    can someone call me please this is the only place i can go for help 6506302192

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      We’ve removed your
      contact information for your safety, denise.
      You are welcome to email us at info@reviveourhearts.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

  • Bookworm1

    Praying for you Denise, that you will feel God’s peace in whatever you are going through.
    This post is really good – I think that’s a great way of looking at relationships! Too much these days is about ‘what can I get from this’ – about greed. But to learn to give away, to love big, is great! I would love to put this into practise one day!

  • Lily

    I think to make sure that you never lose in a dating relationship is to keep in perspective that dating should be a learning experience in loving an imperfect being (as said in the article) and not being so dead set serious on the fact that you’ll probably marry this guy someday. Although sometimes you just have that God-given approval/peace that things may lean toward that goal, but that definitely depends on your age and such. I’m only 17 and I’m not allowed to date until I’m 18, but to be honest, I think the single life sounds more rewarding in some ways. I tend to worry about making mistakes in a dating relationship anyways and I just fear them in general.