Know Your SwipeYou can be a Christian and navigate dating apps; you can honor God and respect yourself.
Who doesn’t love a good happily-ever-after story? Why wouldn’t you? After all, God wired us for deeply-connected relationships with one person for the rest of our lives. We were created for it. It’s no wonder we are drawn to Disney movies and romantic comedies. Even action-adventure films have love stories written into them.
I realize at this age, you may not be looking for your forever story right now, but I’d also guess it’s still at least a thought or conversation topic.
But the road to getting to our fairy-tale ending can feel confusing. Especially since smartphones have brought dating to our fingertips. Literally to our fingertips. Dating through our phones has become the norm and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
So instead of fighting culture, I want to give hope that you can navigate culture well. In particular, you can be a Christian and navigate dating apps well. You can honor God and respect yourself while dating.
The Reaction Swipe
If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume you use dating apps or have friends who do.
Before I dive into the topic of dating apps, I should clarify that I am not for or against them. I think there are a lot of good and bad things about dating apps. The great news is that you get to decide how or if you want to engage in dating that way.
When we get on a dating app, there is a temptation to react. What do I mean by that? You see a pretty girl, an attractive guy with a cute dog or someone with a good-looking group of friends and you swipe away. Now, I’m not saying that’s wrong. However, if that’s your only criteria for deciding on the direction of your swipe, you may be setting yourself up for failure. It’s failure because you get into initial conversations and maybe even make it to the first date and realize, “Wait, this person is a horrible match for me. We have nothing in common!” And then you feel frustrated or defeated, go back to the drawing board, start swiping and still end up in the same situation the next time around.
It’s not that we get on these dating apps planning to end up on a bad date or in a bad relationship—the problem is that so many of us don’t plan not to.
The Non-Negotiable Swipe
So, how do you plan not to? Before you even begin swiping, decide what’s important to you—and don’t compromise. What are your values and non-negotiables? Make a list of character traits you are looking for in someone you want to date and be in a relationship with. Write it down or tell a friend. And don’t say yes to matches that don’t meet your non-negotiables.
If you don’t make these decisions on the front end, you will inevitably find yourself in the same situation with the same type of person over and over again. And that sounds awful, right?! One of the ways you can respect yourself is to be true to what a good match really looks like for you.
But I get it, there is potential with dating apps to compromise on what we actually want when we see a great profile picture! But making some good decisions ahead of time in regards to what you are looking for in a date and how you want to use a dating app will set you up better in the long run.
The Charismatic Swipe
While technology provides a great way to meet new people, real relationships still live in real-time. Texting is such a normal way of communicating that it’s easy to forget that we still need to have in-person conversations and experiences.
In this world of swiping, people can pretend to be whoever they want to be behind a screen. It’s easy to get swayed by charisma in an initial text exchange or from witty comeback lines. It’s also easy to misinterpret text messages. I mean, haven’t you found yourself sitting with a group of friends trying to decode the meaning behind the four words and two emojis that just flashed across your screen? I have! Without the context of knowing this person’s character and personality in person, it makes it that much harder to really understand what someone is trying to communicate through a text.
At some point, you’ll need to make the decision to move past the “getting-to-know-you” phase online, and into real-time. That’s where real relationships live anyway. You want to experience how they act in person, how they treat you and other people. They may have said they shared your same values and faith, but are you seeing it in the way they live their life when you are with them?
I love so many things about what Jesus taught, but my favorite is His command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37 and 39, NIV).
What does it look like to love God in your everyday life—and then go and love people like that? For both you and the person you date, it’s first taking care of your relationship with God before you take care of the relationship with the other person. And it means treating someone the way you would want to be treated. Showing them honor and respect in the way you’d want to receive honor and respect. These are things you will only learn about a person offline, during everyday life. God’s “Golden Rule” is both about loving others and recognizing how we are supposed to be loved and treated.
Character is proven over time, and that’s ultimately what I’d hope you’d be interested in finding out.
Dating apps are not bad. They can be a really fun and a helpful way to meet people you may not have met otherwise. They can also be a great way to practice dating and communicating. There is a lot of potential for something good to come from them. But getting on them and swiping left and right is such a small part of the equation. It’s what you do before and after the swipe that matters most.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
- “Beyond the Swipe” by Kristin Fry.
Questions to Consider:
- What are your motivations for getting on a dating app?
- What are some non-negotiables you are looking for in someone you want to date?
- Are you interacting with matches the way you’d want matches to interact with you?
Surround yourself with people who are dating in a way that you’d want to date. This is a great way to learn about what dating well looks like and it gives you opportunities to ask questions, get feedback and learn about healthy dating relationships.
*If and when you decide to hop on a dating app, always remember to be safe and keep your non-negotiables in mind. If you ever feel unsafe, deactivate the app immediately and tell a trusted adult if necessary.
Kristin Fry is a speaker and writer on topics of faith and leadership, including her book “Beyond the Swipe.” She loves honest conversations about God and wants to help people know that they’ve been created on purpose, for a purpose. She lives an active lifestyle but her favorite sport may be drinking coffee! She lives in Atlanta.