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How Old Should I Be Before Getting into a Serious Relationship?

By: Bethany Baird

I looked at the caller ID on my pink razor flip phone and immediately got sweaty palms. I was 16 years old and was committed to only pursuing a relationship when I was ready or able to consider the possibility of marriage.

As a 16-year-old girl, I knew I wasn’t ready. And I knew the guy calling on the other line wasn’t ready either.

With feelings of hesitation, I answered his call.

“Hello, this is Bethany”

“Hey, Bethany!! How ya doing today?”

The conversation continued and the expected happened. Jeremy expressed his interest and asked me if I would consider starting a relationship with him.

I didn’t want to leave Jeremy with any confusion or questions in his mind, so I started to explain the reasons behind my “no” answer.

Here were the three main reasons I told Jeremy no:

1. Neither of us was ready to consider marriage.

I was playing basketball in high school and he (being even younger than me) was nowhere near being ready to lead and provide for a family. In my mind starting a romantic relationship with marriage nowhere on the horizon was simply a waste of time.

2. Unnecessary temptation.

If Jeremy and I started a romantic relationship there would likely have been strong desires and feelings floating around. I didn’t want to take the risk and assume that I could fight off temptation for years on end. I totally understood that sexual chemistry is strong and I didn’t want to invite that in when marriage was nowhere on the horizon.

3. Unwise use of time.

Jeremy was a really nice guy but, in the nicest way possible, he wasn’t the smartest use of my time. God had tons to teach me in my last few years of high school and I needed to have a clear mind and open schedule to focus on those things. A boyfriend would have been a major distraction from my family, God, and preparation for the future.

After I finished explaining my reasons to Jeremy, we chatted for a few more minutes and then hung up the phone. I was pretty confident that he understood my reasons for not pursuing a relationship and I felt really good about my decision.

Looking back on my high school years I can confidently say that I am soooo grateful I never pursued a relationship with a guy. I don’t feel like I missed out and I don’t feel like that decision was a mistake in any way.

To the Girls Not Quite Ready

I want to talk directly to you girls who are in the “not ready for marriage” age group. Whether you are too young or just simply not ready, I want to encourage you to think through these 4 questions:

What is the purpose of a relationship? 

God is the creator of romance, marriage, and relationships. It wasn’t a human idea, it was God’s. In the Bible, we see godly relationships always portrayed either in marriage or on the way to marriage. We never see the Bible encouraging young people to engage in a romantic relationship for years on end with marriage nowhere in sight. God designed romantic relationships for the purpose of marriage.

Why would I say “yes” to a relationship?

Before you say “yes” to a dating/courtship relationship, ask yourself why? Why should I say yes? What’s the purpose of the relationship? What’s the goal? Will this relationship help me better serve God in this season of my life?

Is this the best use of my time? 

God has so much to teach you during your high school years. A boyfriend can often time be a major *major* unnecessary distraction. Instead of using your time pouring into a boyfriend, why not pour it into studying and learning how to best serve God with your future. I HIGHLY recommend reading as many great Christian books as you can get your hands on. Some of my deepest convictions were formed during my high school years. Don’t waste these years.

Will this help me best maintain my purity?

Romantic relationships bring a lot of chemistry and jive between two people. I personally think that it’s foolish to allow that romantic chemistry with a guy into your life with no hope of satisfying it with marriage anytime soon. Be wise and make sure you aren’t adding extra temptation that simply doesn’t need to be in your life.

Let’s wrap it up.

If I could offer you one final piece of advice it would be this. Wait until you are ready for marriage to enter into a serious relationship. I made that commitment myself and I am sooooo grateful I did.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Would you consider a serious relationship before you’re ready to commit to marriage? Why or why not?

What do you think the purpose of a romantic relationship is?

PHOTO CREDIT 

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  • Bethany, so from what I’m understanding from this post, is you don’t think people should date until they’re an adult?

  • Katherine

    When you say boyfriend are you saying dating ? I thought your family only courted. Or do you call the guy your boyfriend to make it easier for other to understand courtship.

  • Hannah B

    I would not consider a serious relationship before i was ready to commit to forever. I knkw in my heart of hearts i am NOT ready. Theres a lot spiritually and skill wise before I get married

  • Shanae B

    Great post! I made the same commitment as a 12 year old to only date with marriage in mind, and thankful I did! The teen years are a crazy time with emotions and hormones and people don’t realize till later on how much these things can negatively affect you in dating during that time. Most dating mistakes and heartaches happen dating during the teen years. I had a lot of peers during that time of my life who thought and called me stupid and wired for my choice on this matter. Not that I’ve never made dating mistakes, but I in no way live with the regrets that they now live with. Thanks for posting!

  • Monty

    Having a 16 year old son I can totally understand the elment of “distraction” and lack of focus on school, etc. having a full time girlfriend could have. I’m so glad my son and his friend (boys and girls) hang out in a “pack” as they call it. They do everything together. This way he gets to interact with different personalities and begin to determine what kind of women he’s attracted to. When I ask him about certain ones he will say things like she’s too needy or she always needs to be the center of attention. He will say I like her more because she cares about other people or puts school first. I’m praying for the young woman that my son falls in love with and have been for sometime. I pray God will wake him up for her when the time is right! God’s timing is perfect.

  • Gabriella

    Wow, great advise! I am only 15 years old. There are girls at my church who are my age and younger who have boyfriends, and I even started getting a bit jealous to be honest…only because I didn’t have a boyfriend. I been realizing over the past couple weeks, that I don’t even need a boyfriend, because he is not the ultimate satisfaction in this life, God is. I know that God has been teaching me so much in these past months, even years, but I definitely need to dig deeper into His word and see what else He wants me to learn.

    • Brit

      Amen!

    • Red

      I think fifteen and younger is too young. Wait a year or two.

  • Ying Zhen Wong

    then how do we know when we are ready for marriage? I mean, when we are at the age of possible to get married, what are the things we could look out for to know this answer?

    • Pauline Walker

      I don’t think there’s a specific age. Instead, seek wisdom, and learn what is important in a Christian marriage. Learn what God thinks of marriage and adjust your mentality to that.

      I was 15 and my husband was 16 when we met and became friends, and we started dating a year later with our sights set on marriage, which eventually happened 5 years later, after he finished college. But not everyone is ready to identify a potential spouse at such a young age – we knew we were a good match because we were both on the same page about Christ’s lordship over our lives and shared the same values about family, children, serving in the church, and financial management.

    • Val

      I don’t think that anyone is 100% ready to get married, like I don’t believe that anyone is 100% ready to become a parent and thus being entrusted with the life of another human being, but I believe that a certain level or “readyness” must be present: I think that the person should have an idea on who he is and what are the values and beliefs that are important for him. A certain maturity is also required: a certain sense of duty, responsibility, the ability to take care of other people.

  • Great advice, Bethany! Thanks for writing!!

  • Brit

    Guys can easily become idols. Idolatry is spiritual adultery. If we want a guy more than Jesus. . .we are missing it. If we worship (extreme love and devotion) the boy over Jesus, no matter how old,. . .we are missing it. We should focus on truly worshipping Jesus in word and deed, and love everyone around us as ourselves. He died on the Cross. . .and saves. . .not boys. Guys are just as filthy and frail as we are without Christ. Lets seek more of Christ, and if He brings us and the right guys together. . .that’s a gift to be cherished. A beautiful marriage is a gift, not a privilege, not a god, and not the sole purpose of our lives. If we cherish a possible gift more than the giver. . .we miss it.

    • Brit

      *right guy
      (typo)

  • Lilly

    I’m 16 years old and have a huge crush on a guy. I have liked him for 2 years, but I don’t think he will like me back, though most my friends say he does. I have tried so many times to stop liking him but it never works. I dream sooo much about him, he means soo much to me. If he actually liked me and asked me to become his girlfriend, I cant imagine turning it down. I care about him so much and want to get close to him and spend time with him… which is what I would get to do as his girlfriend! I understand this would not be wise but I don’t completely understand why. And even if I do understand why, I don’t know what to do with this big crush. its pretty much impossible for teens not to get crushes, and once you have a crush you want to be close, and if the interest is mutual then you do get close thru a relationship. BASICALLY what I am asking is what are girls supposed to do with huge crushes if they don’t plan to date them. Plzz help me here

    • Lilly

      Hey Lilly I totally know what you are going through I just graduated from highschool and I have had my fair share of major life consuming crushes. But honestly you cant just wake up and stop having feelings you need to be actively trying to stop liking this guy (if thats what you want) a few ideas are move your focus onto something else like yourself and strengthening your relationship with God and also unfollow him on social media and even if you see him at school just look the other way. Trust me eventually the crush will fade and you will be a better person because of it.

    • Pauline Walker

      Find something else to occupy your time and thoughts. Like the post suggested, you can read more Christian books (you have way more time to do this in high school than after you graduate, trust me). You can also take up a sport, or learn a new skill (ask your parents to start teaching you adulting stuff now, like how to navigate healthcare, insurance, and how to meal plan…your adult self will thank you later. Pour yourself out serving others – selflessness is an essential quality to practice in marriage, and it’s good to get yourself used to it now. Above all, remember that an infatuation is an infatuation, and nothing more. I used to be like you, crushing on guys for years at a time. Loyalty is a noble quality, but it shouldn’t be wasted on someone who hasn’t earned it. Instead cultivate meaningful friendships with other Christian girls, because those will last through adulthood.

      Best of luck to you!

    • Cassidy

      Girl I totally get you. I’m 16 too, and have had a crush on a guy since I was like 11. In the past year I found out that he liked me back(dude, guys can be pretty silent for like a long time and not say anything)and I had to make a decision on what i was going to do with that info. My parents and i talked to him and his parents about their standards, and we decided that we needed to be able to be friends before we ever became boyfriend and girlfriend, if that ever happens. So I definitely do agree with what other people are saying, this person shouldn’t be an idol in your life and can’t occupy your thoughts all the time, bc we as teens have a lot on our plate with school and other responsibilities. I guess my advice to you would be to talk to your parents about it all, and ask them what they think. My parents have been very helpful in this whole process, and it’s taught me a lot! If you think that this guy may be a person that you want to be in a relationship with someday, I personally think that it’s a good idea to just get to know them, NOT as a girlfriend but just as a friend. There’s no texting hearts or kisses or saying I love you or things like that, it’s just being a friend to that guy!

    • Val

      What you are experiencing is completely normal. Crushes are normal part of adolescence. How to handle them is tricky: I know people who met when they were sixteen years old and eventually got married but I know a lot more people (including myself) who didn’t. And this happens merely because when you are sixteen you are still building your personality, trying to figure out what you want in life and what your values are, it is a very important moment of growth and I think that for this reason it would be better not to be in a relationship (since you are building your identity, by being in a relationship the risk is that your identity will be vastly shaped by your relationship and that that relationship will define who you are).

    • Emmy

      Hey Lilly,
      I know you’re getting a lot of advice but I wanted to share my thoughts since I relate a lot and am still kinda working through the same situation. Ugh, dealing with crushes is tough. I hope you are encouraged that you’re not alone and find some helpful advice in my ramblings below 🙂

      I’ve had a crush on a guy for several years as well (I’m 18 now)- we’ve known each other for years but we’ve never been close, more like acquaintances that are in some of the same circles and interact every now and then. Even though we don’t personally know each other well or talk much, I know a quite a bit about him because we’ve known each other’s families for years and I know he’s a Christian with good character. But during the past 2 years, my feelings for him increased without him doing anything to lead me on. I would replay our (short and infrequent, tbh) conversations in my and try to pick out signs that he liked me…and while I knew none of this was good, it was hard to stop because I found/find him very attractive (physically and personality-wise). Like you, I’ve tried to just stop having the crush and try to rationalize why it wasn’t good (I know he doesn’t like me back, we probably wouldn’t actually get along great if we did know each other better, etc. etc.). Annd it didn’t help much.

      Sooo what helped me? Well, I obviously didn’t just suddenly wake up crush-less one day. And it also didn’t help much to think up all the reasons he’s not a great guy, because he really is from what I know of him (as far as imperfect, sinful humans go). But I was convicted of the idol he had become in my life. I thought about him a lot and constantly hoped for a chance to get to talk with him or at least see him, and was annoyed with myself for “missing opportunities” to talk with him.

      In my opinion, simply ignoring your crush is not necessarily the best option. The problem is internal, and no amount of avoiding the guy is going to get your mind off him if your crush is to the point that I think yours is, Lilly. In my case, I’ve really had to work on letting go of my lust (clarification- not sexual, emotional) for this guy and surrendering my idolatrous thoughts that were putting MY feelings and desires in the place of God. God has gently turned my heart back to Him, reminding me that HE is the source of my satisfaction and lasting worth, not the attention of a guy.

      Waayy easier said than done, but really, it’s a constant battle of flesh vs. spirit. I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to “get rid” of your crush. Instead, seek God’s Word, spend time with HIM, and ask Him to give you a greater love for your Savior than ever before. I’m sure you, like me, have a lot of growing to do (emotionally and spiritually) before marriage, and with the right attitude, RIGHT NOW can really be a wonderful time of getting to know the Lord (and female friends) better and understanding your own purpose. And at the right time, the right man will be interested in you and God will make it clear that this is the guy He wants you to work alongside for His Kingdom. No one can guarantee your crush isn’t the guy who’s gonna be your husband, but it’s a lot wiser to assume he’s not. Spending your mental and emotional energy wondering and hoping isn’t beneficial or God-honoring (exactly what I’m preaching to myself right now).

      I encourage you to look upward, and God will give you the grace to deal with your emotions and your crush. It won’t just go away (mine still hasn’t, like I said; and some days I still catch myself back in the rut of “intense crushing”), but with time you will find contentment and joy in the presence of the One who chose you to be His bride.

      <3
      ~Emmy

    • Red

      Might as well see where it goes. He probably doesn’t see you showing interest and is nervous. Wear a flattering outfit and give him a smile and tell him it’s nice to see him. Guys see that as interest. You don’t have to lather it on though, just dress well and be pleasant.

      • Red

        (Good luck!)

  • Mele Bwaina

    I honestly think that pursing a serious relationship creates a strong foundation before marriage. So thanks Bethany for the post. It has truly reminded me to focus on God, and someday he will send some one my way.

  • Leah

    I remember God telling me a few years ago that I would marry this certain guy. I’m sixteen, and I still pray about the matter a lot. The guy God told me I was to marry has gone a bit off track. God is telling me to wait at the moment. My situation is really hard (for me), because I have a major crush on him, and have for ages. I keep praying for him, bit sometimes I think it doesn’t work. I know I need to trust what God says, but I’m spiritually weak at the moment.

    • Malgorzata Kleczkowska

      Is it OK if I ask how you knew God was telling you that you would marry this certain guy? I have heard this before and yet I’m afraid that if I ever hear something, I’m just imagining it, especially about something like marriage (and if it doesn’t work out, then what do I do?).

      • Leah

        I was at Proteens camp (a youth group camp), and I just remember hearing ‘HE’S THE ONE’ I’m sure I didnt imagine it, because I absolutely abhorred the guy. He teased me 24/7 (because I have red hair). But I really trusted that God said that, and I still do to this day. You’ll know if your imagining it. I don’t know why, but you just do.

        • Val

          I know there are different ideas among Christians about whether God chooses a person for everyone (“the one”) or if He leaves us the choice. I don’t know where you stand in this debate and I know that I have absolutely no right to give you any advice, but if I were you I would seriously consider the idea that what you heard might not be God’s voice.
          Obviously I’m not saying that I’m completely sure it is not His voice, but there is a chance it might not be. And if that’s the case, the belief that this guy is going to be you right husband is fueling your feelings for him, and one day could lead you to reject a godly guy only because you believe that God told you that another guy is supposed to be your husband.
          I’m not saying not to pray for this guy, but maybe you could try to pray for him, without the idea that you are praying for your future husband.

          • Leah

            Thanks for the advice, and I will definitely look into the debate, further than I ever have. I loved your last sentence, and will definitely try it!

        • Red

          Wait just a second, my girl. He flirted with you and you thought he was the one. See what you did there?

          How do you know he backslid? Players go to Church too!

    • Liana Mcanne

      Thats beautiful!!! Keep praying for me,believe that he hears you when u ask according to his will and in faith…Am sure the waiting period is to prepare you both,God is working out something..Endure

      • Leah

        In the last month, i’ve grown so much more in Christ, and it’s truly been a blessing because i’ve learnt to wholeheartedly trust in God and His amazing Will. Thank you so my for your comment, it truly means the world to me, and thank you especially for that last word ‘endure’. I find sometimes that i have trouble enduring because often im impatient. I guess thats another thing i have to pray about. But anyways, thank YOU so much for your comment!

    • Red

      You should be VERY careful. I have been in the same situation a few times myself and survived it. It is really difficult to discern when you’re attracted to someone and when it’s God’s Will. Usually, you are just attracted to someone.

      Here’s my personal belief. God calls people to do things, and they don’t always listen. It may be that God is telling a guy to marry you and that he’s not listening. That’s this guy’s decision. God will call someone else, who may or may not listen. The man must be the leader, and he must make the decision to follow God on his own. Your job is to avoid temptation and deception.

      I have to add, the fact that he is a “bad boy” or a “lost soul” will make him seem more attractive to you. You can’t help it, that’s how women are wired. Just be aware of that. I would avoid this guy, if your attraction becomes a problem, and take a break from guys for a few months. Plan some fun things during your break, with your girlfriends or just alone, then go out and meet some boys when you’re done. Meet a few guys, so that you’re thinking clearly and not stuck on one guy.

      • Leah

        Thank you so much! Loved your comment. Just recently, I asked God to send me three signs of confirmation, in one week, if he was really the one, and sure enough I had three. My last sign was shown to me on my last day of the week. The night before, I had prayed that if it was God’s Will that this was going to happen, that I would have a dream about him, and sure enough I did!

  • EJ

    Great post Bethany! I totally agree with everything you said. I began a serious relationship when I was 18 with a guy a year younger. Two months into our relationship we both knew that marriage was what we were aiming for. We have now been in a relationship for 5 and a half years and are engaged to be married in summer 2018. Although I wouldn’t change anything, I do agree that a relationship that is lengthy has a lot of temptations and those temptations would be easier avoided if marriage was entered into sooner rather than later so therefore I agree that a serious relationship should be left until marriage is a possibility.

  • Brooklyn

    Thanks so much for this post, Bethany! I am seventeen, and have no potential relationships on the horizon, but I always think about what my answer would be if someone asked me to enter into a relationship with them. This post has caused me to revisit my convictions about relationships. I want to be in a relationship that glorifies God and makes the best use of my time.

  • Rachel09876545678

    I can totally understand the benefit of having the right focus and intention and being more cautious with friendships as a teen. Yet I come from the other end of the spectrum where we were taught to have emotional purity and to limit our interactions with guys, which makes having normal interactions and building healthy, positive relationships incredibly difficult as a young adult. What would you ladies advise?


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