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Got a complicated relationship? Particularly a dating relationship?

Here’s an analogy for why dating relationships so often become so complicated.

Imagine I wanted to paint a picture of a lemming.

Perhaps that doesn’t sound like an impossibility to you. Perhaps you’re an accomplished painter and have always raised lemmings as pets. In that case, you could paint a lemming with your eyes closed. With no drop cloth. However, there are some parameters you should know about me as I approach this artistic endeavor.

First, let’s assume I don’t even know what a lemming looks like because I’ve never seen one, but I’ve heard they resemble something like a cross between a guinea pig and a wolverine.

Secondly, I don’t know how to paint, but I’m pretty sure I can do it because I’ve seen it done on TV. And by “seen it done on TV,” I don’t mean I’ve watched Bob Ross instructional videos. I mean to say I’ve seen shows and movies where painting was being done as part of the action on screen. (I can remember the movies Emma and Little Women in particular. And I’ve watched them more than once.) All of that to say, I have no training, but it doesn’t look that hard. You just put the brush in the paint and then put the paint on the paper. Or canvas. Or wood. (I believe the Mona Lisa was painted on a wood panel and I have some plywood in the garage.)

Thirdly, I don’t want to take the time to get paintbrushes, so I thought I’d just use a hairbrush. (A brush is a brush, right?)

Lastly, before I start, I’m going to drink a little alcohol. Or maybe a lot. Just enough to feel more relaxed. And artistic.

Now, what is my painting going to look like?

Someone might mistake it for modern art, but no one’s going to look at my painting and say, Oh what a lovely lemming! It almost looks like a photograph.”

On Painting Lemmings & Being In Love

Now here’s the analogy …

For starters, most unmarried people in our world today, hoping to carry on a life-giving romance, have likely never observed one single healthy dating relationship in the course of their natural lives. It’s an “animal” they’ve never laid eyes on.

However, they’ve seen how it’s done in film, television, and videos. Not instructional videos, but they’ve watched infinitely more love scenes than I’ve watched painting scenes. And all that familiarity builds a level of confidence that overshadows my confidence in painting.

On top of this, most teens and young adults (or older adults, for that matter) have never acquired the right tools to thrive in a long-term, committed relationship. They only know how to sustain semi-intimate friendships and work relationships, and they’ve never felt that close to their family. So, they’re like me in front of a scrap of plywood with tempera paint and a hairbrush.

Lastly, though many do engage in recreational drinking while dating (to feel more relaxed and sexy), you don’t have to drink anything to have your judgment and sense of restraint seriously impaired by the neurochemistry of infatuation. (More on that in Chapters 12 and 20.) This is one of the reasons we enjoy being in love. It feels. So. Good!

So, the next time a friend asks you, “Why does dating have to be so complicated?” ask them if they’ve ever painted a picture of a lemming with a hairbrush. While drunk.

If you would like an entire book filled with the kind of practical, Biblical wisdom on sex, dating, and relationships you just finished reading, you can get it NOW! The above post is an excerpt from Date Like You Know What You’re Doing: Your DatePrep Guide. Here are other excerpts from the same book.

A dating life that leads to a life-giving, lifelong marriage doesn’t happen by accident. You need to know what you’re doing.

That’s why I wrote Date Like You Know What You’re Doing to empower you to:

  • Discern God’s will for your dating life.
  • Avoid heartbreak, rejection, and regret.
  • Date with confidence and clarity.
  • Win the war over sexual temptation.
  • Let your marriage hopes inspire, instead of impede your dating life.

Learn more here!

Want to Rock Your Relationships?

Learn truths for thriving in relationships! This video featured on our FMUniversity YouTube channel introduces several different LoveEd series on relationships.