5 ways to support friends – and be supported – through dating
Dating can be hard but one of the best bits, in my opinion, is sharing the ups and downs with other single friends. It makes the whole process more fun, less lonely and it keeps you accountable. Being able to support friends and be supported is a gift. It can be challenging however when you’re not going through the same ups and downs at the same time. How do we enjoy the journey together – celebrating, sympathising and everything in between - when everyone’s journey is different? How do you grow deeper and healthier friendships as you share your dating experiences?
Sharing is caring
My best friend went on a first date last week. On the train home she reported to the Girl Chat on WhatsApp, and the messages came flying in. What did she wear? What did they talk about? What did his pancake order suggest about his personality? Does she want to see him again?
I love these discussions. If the date went well, you get to share in their excitement and your friendship deepens. If it was disappointing, they have the chance to process the date and what they’re feeling, and your friendship deepens. Proactively caring also models how to support friends well in the future.
You may not be an external processor, but sharing your dating journey with one or two others is so important. One friend of mine wouldn’t have gone on a second date with her now-husband if her friends hadn’t encouraged her to keep an open mind. Getting another person’s perspective can be transformational, but make sure it’s someone you trust, who knows you and shares your values.
I spent a good four years getting my heart broken because I was consistently looking for the wrong type of guy. That all changed one day when a close friend said something very simple that blew my mind: “Beth, what you really need is a man who’s kind.”
As strange as it seems, I’d never considered kindness as something to look for in a potential partner. This led to a really honest conversation about non-negotiables. Now, when I’m getting to know someone she’ll ask me whether I’ve seen these traits in them.
Is he kind to people around him? What’s his relationship with God like? Did he make me laugh? We don’t expect to know the answers straight away, but having someone to discuss with who knows me and will challenge me, has made dating so much easier. I know that I’m not alone in it.
Dealing with envy
Last year a friend went through a very traumatic breakup. She was devastated and I went into full-on ‘support friends’ mode. I sent her pick-me-up texts, prayed for her, encouraged her that she might meet someone more worthy of her time.
And then she did. 6 months later. Of course I was happy for her, wasn’t I? Actually, I was secretly annoyed. She’d only been single for 6 months – I’d been single for years!! Surely it was my turn to meet someone?
At this point you might be wondering why I’m writing a blog on friendship if I’m such a terrible friend… If we’re honest with ourselves we’ve all felt like this at some point. Envy is a natural emotion – what’s important is not to let it take root into bitterness and become something stronger.
Acknowledge it, bring it to God, have a cry or rant if you need to, and ask God to help you let it go. Remind yourself how much you love your friend, and how happy you are for them. The more we choose to celebrate others, the less of a grip those emotions like anger and jealousy have a hold on us.
Lift your head above your own situation
There will be times like these where you and your single friends are having opposite experiences. We need to actively remind ourselves to look beyond our own circumstances and be there for our friends. If you’re happily seeing someone, remember that friend who might be feeling down and reach out to them.
If everyone except you is loved up, be there for your friends in the same way you’d want them to be there for you. It can help to find one friend who is in a similar situation to confide in, and you’ll have more energy and patience for those in a different position.
Everyone’s journey is different
This point is easy to forget sometimes, but it’s the key to healthy friendships when dating. Your dating journey will not be the same as your friends’. I’ve known people who have joined Christian Connection and met someone in their first week, and others who have met their partner after five years.
Try not to compare yourself to others. Don’t count and compare the number of dates you’ve been on or the amount of rejection you’ve received. It has nothing to do with how worthy or desirable you are. Everyone is unique, and that’s what makes friendships so great! We’re different people walking different paths side by side. Enjoy the journey, and try to have a few laughs along the way.