When I was single, I suffered from a malady that made my life miserable. If you are single, I wonder if you ever suffer from this disease? Are you worried that you might never find a mate? Are you discouraged that your congregation has too few singles to choose from? Do you date outside the faith because there is nobody for you inside the Church? Do you feel you are sort of wasting your time getting to know members who are not potential mates?
These were some of the symptoms of my own malady. I could go on describing how I judged every function’s potential to be a success or failure solely on whether there were any “interesting” singles there. I could tell you how I would look around any group and feel immediately depressed when I could not spot any singles I thought were attractive or even in my age bracket. Sound familiar?
Eventually I discovered that the disease, of which these are all symptoms, is simple self-centeredness—and I had a nice large dose of it! If being completely consumed with myself had been the key to happiness, I would have been extremely happy. But, alas, selfishness has one infallible end: “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:16).
Do you envy married people or other singles who seem more “marriageable” than you? Are you confused about how to find a mate and what God wants of you as a single person? Do you feel like you just keep going in circles, beating your head against the wall in the whole dating scene? If so, then I rest James’ case! Self-seeking could be the problem, as it was for me.
Some have a wholly mistaken idea that you cannot grow much or contribute much or be balanced or truly accepted unless and until you are married. Yet Paul and Christ and many other great Christian men and women were not married for all or most of their lives. And there are many single people in God’s Church who lead exemplary lives and are happy and fulfilled.
These happy singles have undoubtedly found the solution to the problem of self-seeking, which Paul describes in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
What if—instead of trying so hard to find a mate for yourself—you tried to help other singles meet their potential mates? What if—instead of getting discouraged because there is no one you want to date in your congregation—you brought singles together for fun and fellowship so they would not feel so lonely? What if you stopped always thinking about fulfilling your own dreams and thought more about helping others fulfill theirs?
When you look out for the interests of others and get your mind off yourself, all kinds of wonderful things can happen. There is no greater joy than in giving—as God Himself attests (Acts 20:35). So when we stop trying to get for ourselves and focus on others’ success and happiness, we will be happier—guaranteed.
And if your motives for approaching singles of the opposite sex are truly altruistic, you will probably be more confident and welcomed by them. Haven’t you men found many a single woman defensive when you try to talk to her? Is it possible that your “hidden” motives for talking to her are not all that hidden? If you approach a single because you are trying to get people together as a group, he or she may be much more receptive. You may also find you have much more confidence when you are trying to help others.
And if you want to be married one day, why not work on the absolutely essential trait of selflessness now? All singles can grow in this area in the same way married people do by looking out for the interests of others instead of just themselves. And you will be far more “eligible” if you develop this trait as a single person, because all married people must learn to put another person’s needs before their own or their marriage will not succeed.
Instead of dating
Do you know singles who do not like to date? Provide a safe place for them to socialize—a group-oriented setting where everyone can just be friends. Do you know singles who find meeting people awkward? Ask them to join a group outing and bring along some of the singles they would like to get to know. Open your home for movie nights or potlucks or have small dinner parties where you can help singles meet those who they might not otherwise meet. Make it your job to bring people out; to help them feel comfortable; to promote friendship and friendly discussions.
As an aside, many singles do not like large singles’ activities. Wrong or right, they may see them as “meat markets” or sizing up contests. However, they might like smaller, handpicked dinner parties or outings. Everyone does not have to be a part of everything. Instead of criticizing some for not joining in, create different opportunities for all.
There is another benefit of helping others in this way. It is quite possible that you could get to know someone on a deeper level that you did not think you would be interested in and find he or she is your soul mate. This should not be your goal in helping others, but it does happen! I know, because it happened to me! I began getting groups together simply to have something to do on Friday and Saturday evenings and, in time, I found the love of my life! My husband and I had a very solid bond of friendship long before we ever dated one-on-one. It led to love and a very happy marriage.
Traditional one-on-one dating as this world has practiced it is too often counterproductive to friendship and often leaves a trail of heartache and grief, especially if it has led to any kind of intimacy with no commitment. Dating one-on-one is a perfect setup for rushing into romance and intimacy without any previous bond or friendship; most people would not actually treat good friends the way they do “dates”!
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself that you are not married or dismayed because God has not sent your soul mate to you, get proactive and try to help others fulfill their dreams. I guarantee you that the one who will benefit the most will be you! “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you” (Luke 6:38, New Living Translation).
“Dating Dos and Don’ts” from the booklet Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension has helpful information for singles of any age. Read it or request a copy.