Do you ever wonder why there’s so much drama surrounding relationships? Ever since the days of Adam and Eve, people have managed to fall in love, marry, and make things work. It shouldn’t be that complicated, right?
After all, God knows who we’re supposed to marry. Can’t he work out all the logistics?
Nevertheless, in the “crushing” stage of relationships, we tend to do dumb stuff that causes unnecessary drama. Often we cause painful heartbreak, either in ourselves or in others, over something that wasn’t even a real relationship.
Here are a few tips for minimizing the drama, miscommunication, and potential heartbreak.
Online vs. in-person conversation
Consider these three scenarios.
Scenario A: As soon as Katie arrives at youth group, Timmy spots her from across the room. A big smile appears on his face, and he wiggles through the crowd until he stands by her side. “Hey Katie!” he says. “I haven’t seen you in forever. What have you been up to?”
Scenario B: Sara is relaxing in her room one evening when her phone lights up with a Facebook message from Dan. “Hey Sara!” he says. “I haven’t seen you in forever. What have you been up to?”
Scenario C: Rachel and Chad arrive at church at the same time, and as they’re hanging up their coats, he makes a little small talk. “Hey Rachel! I haven’t seen you in forever. What have you been up to?”
Rachel replies that she’s been busy with school, and then they go inside and sit down in different locations. After church, Rachel notices him talking to Melody, and later she sees him briefly chat with Felicia.
In all three scenarios, the guy’s words were exactly the same, but their intentions were different. We can see that Timmy singled Katie out, while Chad was just friendly to all the girls.
The problem with scenario B is that we don’t know what Dan was thinking. Did he single Sara out? Does he message all the girls? How is Sara to know?
Because texting is rife with miscommunication, we cut a lot of drama out of our lives if we get to know each other in person rather than online.
Of course there are several drawbacks to this method. First, other people talk. They accuse us of flirting, and assume we like each other when we’re just friends. Furthermore, talking to someone we like is scary. What if we say something completely idiotic?
The trick is to practice your conversation skills until you can be friendly to everyone, of both sexes, whether or not they’re cool.
This takes time and practice. But remember, the smoothest path to a relationship is through real, in-person conversation. Stalking them online, finding excuses to message them, and giggling about them to your friends will only serve to make you fall in love with the idea of that person, and will make it easy to read way too much into your interactions with them.
What if someone likes me and I don’t like them back?
If you think someone likes you and you don’t like them back, don’t panic. Small heartbreak is a normal part of life, and if you’re as kind as possible, their heart will heal relatively quickly.
Kindness, first of all, means not leading them on. The attention is flattering, and responding to it can feel like kindness, but it’s not. Be friendly, but wait a few days before replying to them. Learn how to say “I’m not comfortable messaging you so often.”
Second, it’s not kind to giggle with your friends about someone’s pitiful flirtation attempt. Sharing some good stories with your family or people outside of your regular social circle is one thing, but if you and the person who likes you have mutual friends, they don’t need to know the details. This person’s only “crime” was liking you, and you don’t want to spoil their chances with every other person they know.
And finally, kindness is not assuming they like you unless they tell you. Sometimes we just mis-read signals. If they do declare themselves, turn them down gently, kindly, and respectfully.
Most pre-dating heartbreak occurs when there’s deep emotional attachment but no clearly defined romantic relationship. Maybe you are super close friends with someone of the opposite sex without feeling any romantic feelings for them, and you think it’s fine. But remember, you can’t guarantee that they won’t develop romantic feelings for you.
It’s fine to be friends with the opposite sex. In fact, it’s healthy. But you should ask yourself, “if they were dating or married to someone else, would this level of closeness be appropriate?” If the answer is “no,” you should cut back.
Verbalizing your boundaries feels scary and weird, especially when you don’t know how someone feels about you. You don’t want to scare them off, or make your relationship sound like a bigger deal than it is. But having boundaries will gain you respect, which is healthy and useful whether or not you eventually end up in a romantic relationship with this person.
Have a mentor
Every relationship has its own strange, hard-to-navigate circumstances. Generic advice from articles like this might not be much help.
That’s why you need a mentor. Someone who is significantly older than you, but still loves to hear all the juicy details of your romantic dramas.
It can be a parent. It can be an aunt or uncle. It can be an older sibling or a young couple in your church. It’s nice to confide in some who is your own gender, but married, so you can get the other gender’s input at times.
But at the end of the day, remember this. We’ve all done dumb stuff for the sake of love, and we’ve all survived. If things don’t’ work out, they don’t work out. God is still in control.
He’s got this.