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“That’s how NOT to get a date.”

Thus was my thought when I saw the picture of the yellow billboard on Instagram.

In gigantic black capital letters it read, “AVAILABLE,” and then listed the number you would call if you wanted to inquire about placing an ad on said billboard.

Of course, I’ve never seen anyone market their relational availability on an actual billboard (yet), but the reality is there are quite a few “billboard daters” out there. By that, I mean there are a lot of folks “on the market” today “promoting” their interest in a romantic relationship in ways almost as desperate as just giving out their number to everyone on the side of the freeway.

Are you a billboard dater? Here are five signs.

#1: You constantly talk about your relationship desires.

(Like you’re in a perpetual group therapy session.)

You want to be in a relationship. I get it.

Everyone gets it.

But here’s what I want you to get: this is not the way to find the right dating partner. And not just because it makes you seem desperate – although it does – but because most people aren’t great relationship coaches.

It’s not that your friends are out to set you up with a catfish special. It’s that most people just enjoy a good romance, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a comedy, action/adventure or drama (full of drama). Just as long as it’s entertaining to watch.

Hopefully you can see how unlikely you are to get solid dating advice and leads from people looking to your relationship life for their entertainment. In fact, those friends and family might be the reason why you always seem to fall for the wrong kind of person, subsequently winding up with a lot of entertaining stories. And a lot of emptiness.

So stop sharing your innermost thoughts about love and longing with anyone who will listen, like you’re on some reality TV or talk show. Instead, share your relationship desires only with those who know you best and love you most. All the better if they have some years of experience and wisdom on you.

Think about it this way. You don’t just want to be in a relationship. You want to be in the right relationship. Right?

If so, surround yourself with mentors who hold the same goal: your long-term relational success. And, since at the end of the day, “success” (as you imagine it) isn’t within your ability to guarantee, look for those who will coach you in faithfulness, grace, and wisdom each step along the way. Then you’ll be growing into who you were made to be, even if it takes longer than you hoped to discover who you were made to be with.

#2: You dress in such a way that is quite literally selling your body.

(And your soul.)

Nothing says “AVAILABLE” like wearing next to nothing.

Are you proud of your body? Great!

But pride is still a sin.

However, you should be grateful for your body. And that goes for you, whether you could be an underwear model or not, because your body is a gift from the Lord. In fact, your body is a lot of things – great things –  and we share five of those things in this post: The Naked Truth about Your Body.

All of that to say, if you want to attract the kind of people who want your body, than flaunt what you got. But if you want to attract the kind of partner who truly wants to know you as a person, and love you as their person, then the Apostle Paul gives us these instructions:

Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. – 1 Timothy 2:9-10

And, though those words are addressed specifically to the ladies, the principle is the same for the dude that likes to take the mirror selfies of his six-pack and guns. A good body, like a big yellow billboard, can attract anyone, but good works are going to catch the attention of the right kind of person.

#3: You flirt with every single member of the opposite sex.

(Regardless of species.)


Save the flirting for someone you’ve actually gotten to know well enough to be attracted to who they are as much as you are attracted to what they look like.

Or better yet, instead of flirting, actually attempt to engage in meaningful dialogue with those of the opposite sex you find attractive. How else do you think you are going to get to know them well enough to discover if you could be attracted to who they are as much as you are attracted to what they look like?

In fact, there are certain things you should know about a person before getting their number. And more you should know before setting a first date. And flirting won’t help you acquire any of that information. Which is to say that flirting won’t help you identify a suitable dating prospect.

At best, flirting will only help you identify someone who’s interested in you (whether they’re really a good fit for your future or not). At worst, flirting will only help you identify people who like to flirt.

#4: You are always trying to be where the opposite sex is.

(Like a hunter stalking prey.)

Your every decision should not be determined by where the largest number of “available” people are congregating at any given moment.

Of course, many will tell you that you need to “put yourself out there, ” but how about this perspective instead:

  • Attend social events organized by your work, school, or community not to “put yourself out there,” but to make friends.
  • Join an athletic club, not to “put yourself out there,” but to get fit and healthy.
  • Get plugged into a church not to “put yourself out there,” but to grow spiritually, and help others do the same.
  • Volunteer with a local ministry, not to “put yourself out there,” but to bless those in need.

In other words, instead of trying to “put yourself out there,” simply pursue a healthy lifestyle!

And do you know what’s likely to happen in the midst of pursuing a healthy lifestyle? You’re likely to cross paths with someone else who is also available, but hasn’t purchased any billboard space. Someone else like you who’s also wanting to make friends, get fit, grow spiritually, and serve those in need.

And maybe after getting to know this person in those group settings, you might agree to share a cup of coffee together. But not the same cup. Because germs.

#5: You judge every member of the opposite sex by their marriage potential.

(Even those already married.)

Yes, I know in middle school, it’s quite common to be “dating” before you’ve ever actually gone on a date. But mature people don’t put the relationship status ahead of the first date.

And, yes, I hear at many Christian colleges a homecoming date can be synonymous with a wedding date. But mature people wait until they’ve gotten to know someone well enough before they call them boyfriend or girlfriend, much less husband or wife.

Don’t get me wrong. I do admire your intentionality. Marriage is the right goal for dating, but first you have to be dating. And then you have to determine if you’re dating the right person. It’s a process that takes time.

That said, if you insist on constantly judging people by how many boxes they check off for you, you’ll tend to make two common errors:

  1. You’ll jump to conclusions, hoping someone is “the one,” as you ignore all red flags that might challenge your assumptions.
  2. You’ll pass on potential partners, for superficial reasons, because you don’t fall for them right away.

And you want to know something? Most people don’t like being judged in the first place. Most people want to be appreciated and valued simply for who they are. Not for who they might become to you.

So instead of viewing every attractive member of the opposite sex you meet as your possible future love, just view them as a possible new friend. And if you find yourself able to build a meaningful friendship with them, you might be surprised to find a truly special romance growing out of that.

So don’t be a billboard dater! That’s how NOT to get a date.

Want to know how to get a date? We have an entire hot topic resource page dedicated to that! Or check out our LoveEd series, Purpose Driven Dating, on our FMU YouTube channel.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

Dug this weekend’s DNA? Be a good friend and share with your friends on the social media platform of choice: Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.

The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE you fall in love!

It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.

Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.

Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!