Seven Common Mistakes in Relating to
the Opposite Sex
Courtesy of New Life Ministries
Mistake 1: We misinterpret the attentions of the
As an outgrowth of the frustration and desperation sometimes experienced
when we want to be married, many singles overreact to any attention
from someone of the opposite sex, especially if that someone is attractive
to them. If a man looks at us twice, we women can read all kinds of
things into it. If a woman happens to sit by a man at a social function,
he thinks shes sending him come-ons.
This misinterpretation of attentions is one of the major reasons
its difficult for a single man and woman to have a platonic
relationship. Both are on their guard, worried about signals, instead
of allowing that two people can actually have a friendly conversation
and enjoy each others company without a romantic attraction.
I also observe too often that many singles yes, Christian
singles enjoy sending signals and then disowning them. After
all, its an ego trip to think that one or two people are on
your string, hoping youll come their way sooner or later,
even if youre not attracted to them. They disguise their maneuvers
(perhaps even to themselves) by telling everyone, Were
just friends. They even say that to the other person right up
front, laying the groundwork for a quick exit when necessary, and
then proceed to give attentions and signals that are truly misleading.
Anyone would misinterpret them. And they break not a few hearts in
the process of feeding their egos.
Mistake 2: We put up with too much in a relationship and
hang on too long.
Do yourself a favor: Admit you have an emotional dependency youre
calling love or even admit that you really love
the person if you think you do but acknowledge that its
a wrong relationship and get out.
How do you get out? By taking drastic steps. Jesus said, If your
right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is
better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body
to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part
of your body than for your whole body to go into hell (Matthew 5:29-30).
If youre in a relationship and youre being treated with
disrespect, thoughtlessness, or unkindness, thats a good sign
youve hung on too long and put up with too much. If youre
hoping he or she will change, you dont know too much about human
nature. The one thing that might make a person like this change is
having to live with the consequences of his or her behavior
namely, losing the relationship. As long as he or she can get by with
treating you shabbily, theres not likely to be much change in
If youre not happy with the treatment youre receiving
from a person before you marry, you can be sure the treatment you
would get after marriage would be much more of the same and worse.
Mistake 3: Were not always very good at reading
danger signals in a relationship.
I often see single people in relationships that have poor choice
written all over them, but somehow they never seem to see the danger
signals. The truth is, most of the time they just dont want
to see them.
Remember that when our emotions get involved in a situation, its
very easy to lose perspective. Someone once told me, Emotions
and feelings have zero IQ, and I think thats a good thing
to remember. You cannot trust your emotions. Those juices get flowing,
those romantic notions start whirling around in your head, and you
can lose perspective in an instant.
Lets list a few of the danger signals:
Significant age difference. This will vary depending on individuals
and depending on the ages involved. Im not saying that age difference
is always a problem, but it certainly is one thing you should consider
Different family upbringing. Its a fact that no two
families are alike, but look at the basics: Were both families Christian?
What values were taught by the families? What kind of relationships
exist among the family members? Some families are very close and some
Priority of spiritual life. If one person in the relationship
puts a higher priority on spiritual life than the other, its
a real danger signal and should not be ignored. Usually when you are
involved with someone whose spiritual temperature is below your own,
you dont bring them up to your level, you go down to theirs.
Ive seen it time and again.
Mistake 4: We get physically involved much too soon and
go too far.
Here again we Christians have allowed the world system and philosophy
to infiltrate our thinking about the physical aspects of a relationship.
Romans 12:1-2 says we are not to be conformed to this world, but transformed
by a renewed mind. The Phillips translation says, Dont
let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold. When
we become casual about having sex before marriage, weve been
shoved into the worlds mold.
If you truly want to remain pure in your sexual life and keep yourself
for the one person God has for you, or keep yourself for Christ if
you remain single, you most certainly can do that. There is nothing
impossible about it.
However, in order to do that, you will need a discipline that I dont
see in many singles, a discipline to go the extra mile in keeping
the physical contact down to a minimum. You simply cannot trust the
chemistry of your body. It is very powerful, and once it gets going,
finding the discipline to keep it under control is extremely difficult.
So the secret is to keep the electricity down to low levels by controlling
the physical contact.
Mistake 5: We think that the only necessary requirement for a
date or mate is that he or she is a Christian.
I dont believe that there is only one person in this whole
world whom God intends for us to marry, and if we miss that person,
weve missed our perfect mate. (Of course, I dont believe
that its necessarily true that each of us is intended by God
to be married. But thats another subject!) I think its
possible to find more than one person with whom you can be compatible
and have a good lifelong relationship.
Its very smart to put yourself though intensive soul-searching
when you consider marrying someone. Keeping in mind that your emotions
are involved and therefore your perspective may be off center, ask
for advice from trusted people. Get them to play devils advocate
and throw every question they can at you. Take every compatibility
test you can find. Do all you can do to know what youre getting
into before you jump. Youll never be totally prepared for marriage,
but its a good idea to try to find out before you walk down
the aisle whether this match is likely to work well.
Mistake 6: We carry our list of requirements for a relationship
with us and judge others too quickly and selfishly.
I used to have a list of the things I wanted in a man. The list was
divided into Essential and Nonessential. Now,
thats not an altogether bad idea.
My Essential list now has one thing on it: Must
be someone who would enhance my walk with God and allow us to have
a more effective ministry together than we have separately.
Isnt it great that our God is big enough to deal with all our
differences and idiosyncrasies? He isnt looking for cookie-cutter
Christians, all of us looking and acting just alike in every way.
We certainly all have the same biblical principles to apply to our
lives, but within those principles, theres much room for individuality
and personality. Amen to that!
Many singles, however, seem to have a long list of requirements for
their potential date or mate, and theyve gotten a bit carried
away with it, probably as a reaction to the many failed marriages
around us. Its as though theyre checking you out, making
sure you meet their needs. They approach this area of their lives
as they might approach buying a car: What features do you have and
what are the benefits of those features to me?
Having certain important guidelines in mind as we meet and date people
is helpful in keeping us from making totally emotional decisions.
But checking people out for selfish reasons is going too far.
Mistake 7: We think that anything is better than being
While its true that we have basic needs for companionship,
its not true that aloneness is the worst condition in the whole
world. Note that I said aloneness, not loneliness. Theres a
big difference, you know.
Most people fear aloneness because to them it represents loneliness.
They havent learned to fill their time so that aloneness is
valuable and refreshing for them. I have learned to love my aloneness,
but it has not always been that way. It has come as Ive learned
to enjoy the presence of God and stopped equating aloneness with loneliness.
Loneliness is a feeling, an attitude. We dont get through this
life without experiencing it to some degree. But to settle for anything
as a substitute for loneliness is a big mistake. There are worse things
than loneliness, and by Gods grace we do not have to be overcome
and defeated by loneliness. He can take our aloneness and turn it
into beautiful, fruitful, productive time with Him.
Recognize that being alone doesnt mean youre a social
misfit. Dont buy into the lies of our enemy, who wants you to
feel desperate. When we feel desperate, we act in irrational and unprincipled
ways. When we feel an overpowering need to have someone near, well
settle for anything.
Also recognize your need for social interaction and plan good things.
But you dont have to have a date to have company; reach out
to others and share your time. Not with the idea that its second
best youd rather have a date but since you cant
youll be with friends enjoy those people for who they
are, and youll discover that the loneliness goes away.
Excerpted from Common Mistakes Singles Make by Mary Whelchel.
Used by permission of New Life Ministries. New Life Ministries has a variety
of resources on men, women, and relationships. Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE
or visit www.newlife.com.
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