This is a post about how NOT to be single (or not anymore). But, what you are about to read is NOT some set of rules that if you do this, you will get that (that when you add X and Y you get Z; X+Y=Z). This post aims to change your mind from the things you’ve told yourself about being into a relationship (or being into a relationship again), whatever stage in life you are right now. You might have resigned to the idea that there’s no hope for you since time is marching against the odds of you meeting your future husband or wife.
If you think that this is not the relationship advice you’re looking for, you are free to leave. I am not an expert on this either. I’m still 25 (upon the time of writing). But why give me a chance and hear me out? Because I do remember how relationships grow from friendships to lovers and maybe, that’s all you need too — to remember.
So first …
Let’s go down the memory lane* together.
*I recount my experience within the Philippine context. Whatever I have written may not be applicable if you are reading this and you are coming from a different country with different culture and upbringing.
- Elementary days. In this time of your life, you see everyone as friends. There’s no question about the potential of friendship. If you can relate to them, then you are accustomed to be open about the idea that you might end up becoming friends (if you just choose to). Your everyday interaction with every people you meet (mostly within your age bracket) allows you to know them at a superficial level but informative enough for you to decide that you want to know them more.
- High school life. This is the beginning of social experimentation, identifying yourself within circle of friends you choose to be a part of. This is the time where hormones and emotions are also raging. Mostly, you just don’t know what to do with your changing body and mind. With all the changes you are going through, you are caught up between acting like an adult and like a child in most ways (where some of you are getting yourself a girlfriend or a boyfriend without thinking of marriage down the line; just getting the hang of what it’s like to be in a ‘relationship’ like adults do).
- College years. There are four versions of people in this timeline: (1) Those who have rolled from one relationship to the next since high school; (2) Those who have been into a relationship back in high school and decided not to be in a relationship during this timeline; (3) Those who were never in a relationship back in high school but are into a relationship during this timeline; and (4) Those who have only admired (from afar or secretly) but have never been into a relationship until this timeline.
- Working professional (Adult-ing). So this is the timeline where the stories of the four versions of people I mentioned earlier end differently. While some relationships kick-off and they end up marrying each other, other possible endings are (they don’t have to be necessarily these but, may sound like or be a combination of these): (1) I’ve been through a lot of relationships and nothing is working out so I better stay single; (2) My work is my priority as of the moment; (3) I wish to be in a relationship but my family are afraid I won’t be able to provide for them anymore; (4) I’m too busy to give time for relationships, I’m good with having friends; (5) No one ever courted me; (6) I’m now too old for courtships; (7) I can’t find the right person.
Can’t find the right person?
I don’t mean that there is only one person for you, called “THE ONE”. If that’s the case, then there’s is only a 0.0000000001316 chance of you two meeting together; given the world’s approximately 7.6 billion population as of 2018 according to World Bank. Can you imagine how small that chance is? Over time, the chance will even become smaller and smaller as the population increases at an exponential growth.
The right person here means someone who fits the standards you have set for yourself. See illustration below:
If you keep on chasing that fantasy of meeting “THE ONE”, then you are setting yourself up for disappointments. It is such a disillusionment. You will never meet “THE ONE”. However, you can find the right person for you. It’s like choosing a certain type of shoes. You can just have any shoes in the world, but, it takes some personal standards for you to say, “this is the kind of shoes that I want“.
I wish that your intent of finding someone is having marriage the end in mind. If not, you can stop reading right here. You still need to grow up and learn about commitment. If you have the intent of marrying the person you want to have a relationship with, I’d be glad for you to read on. In relationships, I learned that looking for the right person is different from looking for a shoes of your preference. If you really want to find the right person, the principle is you must first become the right person.
In the meantime, don’t worry about meeting the right person. Focus on becoming the right person. If you keep doing the right things day in and day out, God will hold up His end of the bargain!Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small
Is there such a thing as being the right person?
What are you looking for in a person you want to be in a relationship with? If you don’t have a set of standards or criteria to follow, then it would be really difficult for you to decide. So here are guiding principles that will inspire you with your standards.
Jesus emphasized relationships in Matthew 22:37-40.
And Jesus replied to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 AMP
Why is it important to love the Lord if we are just looking into human relationships? Let’s look into this verse:
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates (works against) his [Christian] brother he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:20 AMP
The principle is that, your love for God also flows through your human relationships. So, if you are looking for someone to have a relationship with, that person must love God. I didn’t say that someone who only professes that love for God. What I mean is someone who really loves God and whose actions will attest to it.
Paul also talked more about how people who love God relate with others in Colossians 3:12-14.
So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].
Relating with people in ways that show a person’s love for God also requires to put to death and deprive attitudes and qualities that do not please the Lord as written in Colossians 3:5-9.
So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], and in these [sinful things] you also once walked, when you were habitually living in them [without the knowledge of Christ]. But now rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices,
Colossians 3:5-9 AMP
I strongly believe that people are attracted to people who they can relate with. So if you really want to find the right person, the principle is you must first become the right person.
So becoming the right person here just means that we are to live like Jesus and follow the lifestyle He has set before us. Children only think about the things they want (and mostly neglect other’s wants) and then throw off a tantrum when they don’t get them. So if you are only thinking about “these are the qualities I want my future partner to have” without making it a point that you also change for the better, then you are no different than a child. If that’s the case, you might have missed the chance for that future partner to see you as desirable as you would have also wanted.
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I already did all those things but…
Why am I still single?
I wish I have the exact answer for you. However, what I can say is that you might have a role to play as to why you are still single.
To cultivate a relationship, you must:
1. Let yourself be noticed.
You cannot expect something to grow if you are not planting anything. That is why I brought about the memory of who we were when we were still in elementary: we were always open for friendships. If you want someone to be friends with you, you go talk to them right? You just want to be noticed.
Your communication and way of speaking are important if you are to please anyone! Ladies who are very quiet and do not speak much, don’t easily get married. They may be beautiful but not one notices or is impressed by them. Often, no one is attracted to them. Beauty alone is not enough to impress a man. Often, it is how a lady speaks that attracts and impress a man.The Art of Following
But speaking empty talk is still nothing. You can be so loud and talkative but still, people won’t find you attractive. What makes people notice you is how you share your ideas to them and get them hooked in. Most likely, people connect with others because of either how alike they think or how fascinated they are towards how the other thinks.
So men, let yourself be visible to that lady you wanted to know more. Strike a conversation. It may be awkward at first, but starting something is better than missing your chance altogether.
Ladies, just be yourself. You don’t have to pretend you have these wonderful ideas just to impress a guy. But it really pays off if you know something to talk about. The Bible also teaches you what matters.
Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God.
1 Peter 3: 3-4 AMP
Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves modestly and appropriately and discreetly in proper clothing, not with [elaborately] braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but instead adorned by good deeds [helping others], as is proper for women who profess to worship God.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 AMP
To know more about how to be an excellent woman, read Proverbs 31:10-31 through this link.
2. Know how to please that person.
So if the intent is to really know that person more, you must also know how to establish the connection between you two.
Different people require different things to please them. Lions eat meat and are not pleased with grass, leaves and herbs. So are human beings who have different desires and peculiarities. To please a man, you must understand what pleases him. Unfortunately, many women try to please a man with the things that please a woman! Men also try to please women with what pleases a man!The Art of Following
You can please that person by building that person up spiritually.
Let each one of us [make it a practice to] please his neighbor for his good, to build him up spiritually.
Romans 15:2 AMP
You can also please that person by adapting yourself to that person’s interests.
just as I please everyone in all things [as much as possible adapting myself to the interests of others], not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, so that they [will be open to the message of salvation and] may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:33 AMP
You can also please that person by seeking that person’s welfare more than your own.
For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is fulfilled in one precept, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, you shall have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit].”
Galatians 5:14 AMP
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3 AMP
3. But know your boundaries.
Here’s a warning especially to ladies. If you want yourself be noticed, you should know your boundaries.
“If God wants you to marry that man, it will work out. Ladies, there is no need to throw yourself at a man for him to notice you.”The Art of Following
Throwing yourself at a man is like allowing yourself to matter less. It could be in a form of always chasing him wherever he goes just so you get noticed. If you are really worth anything, you don’t need to impress it on a guy like, “Hey, I’m beautiful and attractive and I am always available for you. I will give everything you need, just love and notice me“. Men see value. They also take pride on the things they acquire through effort, so, throwing yourself at a man is counter-intuitive. Be that trophy they get to work hard for (note that this is in no means similar with being hard-to-get; this is more about knowing your boundaries).
RELATED: Waiting to Awaken Love
4. Be realistic.
I may have cited verses as good reference points for a standard you can follow in looking for the right person you should have a relationship with. However, it is important you don’t make an absolute standard out of it and use it like a litmus test for every potential partner that goes along. My point is that you must not expect that they live a perfect life but see to it that they live a godly life.
If people were practical, everyone would have a husband or wife. Because people are not humble, practical and realistic, they pass by their marriage partners but are unable to recognize them. They want something ideal.The Art of Following
Some men are paralysed into indefinite bachelorhood because they are looking for the perfect female. There is no such thing. Some of the so-called beauties come with horrible flaws.The Art of Leadership
No one is perfect and so are you. Sure, there are still things that irritate you but that doesn’t disqualify you as being gentle. So in assessing a person as a potential partner, see that person as a human with flaws too, just like you.
Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who always does good and who never sins.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 AMP
You must also acknowledge that we are a work in progress.
For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13 AMP
But is being a work in progress an excuse for choosing an unbeliever?
5. Know when to choose.
When you fail to choose, you have chosen to have nothing. Perhaps that is why you have nothing today.The Art of Leadership
When you are at a point of decision making, it means that you have already decided about the person. However, I highly encourage you to really subject yourself to God’s Wisdom by fervently praying when to choose. You will only know it’s time when there’s peace.
It also matters who. There really is a difference if that person is a Christian or not. I can attest to this. So this is something you should not compromise if marriage is the end goal. Still, there are preferences that you can do without but not this one.
Do not be unequally bound together with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said:“I will dwell among them and walk among them;And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. So come out from among unbelievers and be separate,” says the Lord,“And do not touch what is unclean;And I will graciously receive you and welcome you [with favor], And I will be a Father to you,And you will be My sons and daughters,” Says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 AMP
Can you ask for God’s intervention?
So maybe, you failed to choose at some point of your life. And time is marching against you. So can you ask God to help you out? Absolutely yes! Another reason why you are still not in a relationship today is that you are not asking God about it!
You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God].
James 4:2 AMP
So if you really desire to be in a relationship and eventually get married, no matter what age you are in right now, keep on praying for the Lord about it. Never stop until it will be given to you.
Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 AMP
How wonderful it would be if the man or woman you’ll be marrying is God’s answer to your prayers!
- Become the right person. You must prepare yourself for your future partner by becoming someone that pleases the Lord.
- Let yourself be noticed. If done appropriately, this will prepare the ground for relationship growth.
- Know how to please that person. However, you must not please the person only until you’re finally in the relationship together. Your love for the other person mirrors your love for God.
- But know your boundaries. As much as you want a relationship to flourish, you must set limits on yourself. You should also know that there are things that can only be done within the bounds of marriage.
- Be realistic. That potential partner is also human just like you. So don’t expect a perfect person and end up having nothing.
- Know when to choose. Always remember that time lost is time lost. So not choosing a partner now will only make it more difficult later on. However, when is as important as who. You must never compromise your relationship with God.
- Ask the Lord. The Lord really sees all your needs, and that includes a partner in life. Seek the Lord fervently for that spouse and in your relentless asking, that spouse will be given to you.
I hope this post encouraged you in a way and changed your mind about your chances of finding that spouse you’ve been longing for. There is hope.
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