Relationships: No Experience? No Problem
Romantic relationships, especially ones of substance, purpose, and that lead to marriage, do not require that both parties entering come with past experiences. Sometimes we can get overwhelmed with the thoughts of insecurity, doubt and misunderstanding that you have to know so much to be qualified for a relationship. But let me tell you that “quality over quantity” stands when it comes to experience in the areas of love.
Here are a few points to encourage those who may have never had a boyfriend or girlfriend, or barely have been on a date. You’re a rare breed, but you’re not an outcast.
Relationships take work but they’re not jobs.
Most millennials today know that the job market can be fierce, with even an entry level position of your choice requiring 2-5 years of experience you didn’t think of attaining while in school. Do you approach the dating and courting scene like this? Some singles think they are not qualified to be in the love relationship they desire deep in their heart because they feel like they won’t measure up. I ask: says who? You don’t need to have dated and dined people in your teens and early twenties to have so called “experience.” What you need for a romantic relationship is God, purpose and maturity.
Developing your relationship and discovering your purpose in God are key priorities for single people (1 Corinthians 7). Doing so will help you establish who you are, what you like, who will need in your life romantically, and overall coming to terms if that’s in God’s will for you or not in the first place. He prepares you to be more than a boyfriend or girlfriend; He will prepare you to be a partner and helpmate in a Christ centered, God glorifying marriage. Many of those, including myself, who have relationship experiences can’t say we did it this way. While I don’t have regrets, I would have had less heartache if I went about things God’s way instead of entering dating seasons and relationships outside of God’s will, based on my emotions and lack of maturity. So despite lacking experience, you’ll be more prepared for sincere and purposeful dating, which puts you in a better position for quality connections, not a quantity of broken hearts.
Friendships are your love internships.
Going back to the job scenario, is there a job that you’d be so committed to that you’d work for free? Consider your role as a friend and your friendships as indicators for how you will be in a romantic relationship—you should think of how you treat your friends when they’re good to you and when they disappoint you. Are you quick to forgive? Do you willingly serve them? Do you accept them as human or do you try to change them? Are you open with them about who you are and do you pray for one another? Jesus tells us about being a good steward with what you’re given so treat your friends in love; and if you don’t have friends show yourself friendly and ask God to send you godly friends to help and challenge you to be the person He is shaping you to be. Friendship and even family relationships help you see how you will be in a relationship on the practical things.
Trust God to teach you how to love.
Some say that experience is a good teacher. Whether you’ve taken that to heart in your life or feel down about not having the so called life lessons in love you’d like to have, let me remind you that our best teacher dwells within us. Believers in Christ Jesus have the gift of the Holy Spirit, whose job in part is to teach us the ways to navigate this walk, including in our romantic pursuits. Proverbs tells us to “lean not to our own understanding” and trust in God who will provide wisdom, knowledge and understanding in all things. God’s wisdom will keep you from making the mistakes that experience will attempt to teach you. God’s wisdom tells us to guard our hearts, to not cast our pearls among swine, to not dwell with corrupt company, and overall how to be people of integrity in relationships.
You don’t need to have had a girlfriend to know how to treat a woman. You don’t need to have sex before marriage to know how to please your one day spouse. These are messages we get from the world telling us that we are behind or something is wrong with us if we have never done these things.
There are many people who are happily married to the first person they got into a real relationship with. Will this be your story? God only knows.
And essentially that’s the point. God knows what you’re capable of and what’s to come from your story. He put the desires for love and voids in your heart to pine for relationship with Him before anyone else (hey B.A.E.). It took several failed relationships for me to realize that. If you’re without experience I’m not diminishing your own testimony of hurt, loneliness or rejection. I’m telling you that you’re at an advantage because you have an opportunity to build and maintain something beautiful with someone who God will bring into your life if that’s His will for you. In the meantime stay faithful in the relationships in your life right now and learn more about God’s ways in love by reading His word and getting to know Him. Without His guidance our love relationships will fail, but with God you will endure through all the new experiences life will bring your way.