Liv Talley | NYC's Premier Dating Coach and LOVE QUEEN

Boundaries

Faith Based Dating in the Modern World

Updating the way we talk about tradition, money, and sex in Church culture.

With the drastic changes to technology, and incidentally how we interact with each other as a society, dating has been left behind…

Especially if you hold traditional Christian values!

So how do you hold to your faith while adapting to the world we live in? (Ie, how to be in the world without being of the world.)

Much of Christianity and the scriptures discuss the necessity to reject the world and be a “peculiar people.” But it’s absolutely possible and necessary to let dating change.

Setting the stage

Traditions change; we don’t socialize the same way our parents did:

  1. With the popularity of social media, the way we interact with each other has transformed. We post our lives for hundreds or thousands of people to see. Through apps, we’ve opened doors that were previously private, inviting new avenues for validation, criticism, and access that has only ever been given celebrities.
  2. No longer is it taboo to meet online! 10 years ago, “online dating” was stigmatized, whereas today, people are constantly “sliding into dm’s” and have multiple profiles on 2, 3, 4 dating apps.
  3. With the instant accessibility to hundreds of eligible singles all over the world, companionship has become competitive with our own thoughts. Because you have the ability to swipe through anyone with the slightest flaw, you are less likely to choose one person to commit to unless they are perceivably “everything” to you. It’s a standard of perfection you hold yourself to with each filtered picture, and you hold any dating potential to the same, (impossible) standard.

Women in the workforce and rise of entrepreneurship:

As society shifts the way we make money, as well as who makes money, we need to control the way we talk about money.

We’re learning that anyone has access to building enormous wealth!

People are leaving corporate America and the “conveyor belt” of past generations. When some of the most successful and financially inclined people in the world didn’t go to college and work their way up a company (rather they started their own,) and more women are starting at-home businesses than ever, it has shed some light on many much needed conversations–specifically around making money.

For a long time there has been major shame associated with making money, particularly within Christianity. Many perpetuating it, citing the scriptures about setting your heart upon riches and loving the things of the world…

But as our methods (and expectations) around making money change, the perception around it has started to shift.

Sex culture:

With the rise of sex work, pornography, and human trafficking, it’s not only impossible to avoid the topic–but it’s imperative to discuss it in healthy ways.

The traditional Christian culture approach of abstinence until marriage has left out discussing healthy physical relationships to prepare couples for the martial shift.

And with the constant barrage of sex everywhere, the taboo leads to fascination and shame, without the guidance for navigation.

This is how the world is, do we just need to accept it?

There is balance in all things. We live in this world, and there’s a level of adaptation that is unavoidable.

You, reading this article right now, probably have social media accounts and have at least spent some amount of time on a dating app or two.

If you’re a religious Christian, you have probably also asked how you can navigate maintaining your standards with all these major changes in our culture and societies.

What changes with the world, and what do you hold to?

Just because the WAY we date changes, doesn’t mean your values have to!

When you can take the time to separate your values from your traditions, you find your place in 21st century dating…

Even good traditions can make way for creating boundaries around your faith, and dating in the modern world.

To really be able to do that, ask yourself: “why is this tradition important to me?”

It is absolutely okay to have standards, (and in fact, you won’t create the kind of relationship you want without them!)

But having standards as boundaries around building an eternal connection does NOT mean demanding perfect behavior, or “clinging to the old ways.” Sorry, but what worked for your parents isn’t really feasible for you in 2021.

How could it be–they didn’t have dating apps or dm’s. Our parents did not engage socially in the same way that we do now, so their generational practices won’t work the same way for singles today!

Dating effectively, in line with Church standards:

Your standards are your boundaries; your boundaries are your values.

To really bridge the gap between holding true to your faith-based values, and dating in the modern world, you need to peel away the “letter of the law” and lead with the “spirit of the law.”

Within the dating world, this means getting clear on why you want what you want in a spouse: “how does X-quality make me feel loved?”

Do you have a list? You know–that checkbox standard by which you hold all your dates to?

Whether you do or you don’t (although I actually recommend you throw it out immediately,) the way to find a lasting-faithful relationship in a society that almost rejects the principles connected to Christianity, is to understand your own divine design.

Learn which parts of the world don’t conflict with your values:

As an expert dating and relationship coach, I constantly hear members say that they’re still single because they’re old fashioned. They’re absolutely right! And they may stay single for a very long time…

Unless they realize that they CAN hold their same values, and date in a modern way!

You can definitely embrace dating apps while maintaining your values! Embracing the way we interact right now doesn’t mean abandoning your boundaries.

In fact, establishing clear boundaries and understanding them, will make you MORE attractive to the types of people you hope to connect with traditionally!

Choose which modern day trends still align with your goals (after all, how you meet someone is not important when your goal is just to make the connection,) and embrace them.

I used to believe the measure of a “good” man was one who opened my doors. And while I still believe it’s a courteous gesture, I have seperated the integrity of a man from traditions that don’t serve a real purpose anymore.

My husband doesn’t open all of my doors–and that doesn’t make him any less kind or loving. Men opening car doors was a tradition that existed when women wore white gloves, and the men opened the doors to prevent the gloves from getting dity.

I don’t wear gloves, and I don’t feel any less loved for opening my own doors!

Loving money doesn’t have to mean abandoning God:

Money in and of itself isn’t bad. Or good. Money is ultimately nothing except the meaning YOU place on it.

Which means that if you are a good person, and you want to use money for good, it’s going to be good.

In fact, the ability to do more, to experience life and the world that God has created, and to help your fellow man, will be increased by obtaining more money! The value lies in your intention for the money you desire.

If you see life as a gift, then living is the best way to honor it. You can’t live while you burden yourself with money–whether in having or lacking it.

God GAVE us money! It exists because of Him, and we are allowed to have it. We’re even allowed to have a lot of it…

More thought needs to go into what we’re doing to earn the money, and our intention for having it, rather than on the thing itself.

Being able to tune into what fulfills you, and your ability to share that with others for good, is such a positive use for wealth. Doing good (both for yourself and for others,) can’t be discounted if it takes money to accomplish!

Protection is more than abstinence:

We need have the talk…again and again and again.

Sex is so rampant on seemingly every channel, in every movie, on the screens in your home–it’s absolutely necessary to learn how to navigate it. (I know Church members that don’t even use the word!)

But neither the word, nor the act itself are “dirty.” In fact, sex is sacred and we need to give it more respect.

Approach the subject with knowledge and a boundary. Take time to get to know your own sexuality so you can communicate clear boundaries in your relationships with a reference point for why you have the boundaries you do!

Avoiding sex entirely isn’t an option–even if you’re practicing abstinence. You can’t prevent it from popping up in the media, and it is absolutely imperative to know how to be in control of it within your relationships.

We need to be talking about appropriate physical boundaries.

When we can approach physical relationships with prudence and awareness, that lends itself to more intentional action! Rather than avoiding intimacy out of fear or shame, it’s important to discuss HOW and WHY intimacy is so bonding, and what you’re comfortable with.

Avoidance has bred dysfunction in going from “zero” to sex in marriages. And couples that can’t “flip the switch” during marriage, are going to struggle unnecessarily.

Let your physical relationship progress naturally within the trajectory of your commitment. When you both decide that sex is the natural next step, that’s going to be a good time to evaluate if you’re ready for marriage!

Marriage is NOT about having sex.

But sex is so necessary for building a marriage that lasts.

If you can’t talk about it now, learn to. Have frequent discussions and check-ins with the people you date, as well as yourself!

Make sure you’re on the same page with your significant other, as well as with your relationship to God. By giving the appropriate accountability to who you are, and how you can become so much more of yourself WITH someone else, you’ll see your connection blossom in such a beautiful way.

In conclusion:

Things have changed. You don’t have to conform to all of the world, but you can thrive in it. Even as a Christian!

Your values should never work against you, and dating is no exception!

The more you learn and adapt (where it wouldn’t be against your beliefs,) the better you can connect with the types of singles you’re looking for.

In the same ways you learn to go to work and school in the world–while holding to your faith–you can do the same when it comes to dating.

The principles of eternal love are outlined in scriptures, but you’re not given specific “how to’s” for a reason! So much Church culture surrounds maintaining the old ways–and for years that has included “courtship” and certain social practices that just aren’t really necessary anymore…

And some shifts that are completely new territory!

You don’t have to fall behind to keep your faith.You can be the trailblazer.

Learn, grow, stay constant with God, and embrace the life that He has given you to live.

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