Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.
-Song of Solomon 8:4
One of the biggest mistakes people (especially teenagers) make in relationships is to move too fast. Most of us have a friend or two that quickly “falls in love” with a new boyfriend/girlfriend (or maybe you are that friend). One week you are “in love,” the next week you break up and are heartbroken, and in a few weeks you are madly “in love” with someone new. This creates a vicious, heartbreaking cycle. The above Bible verse reminds us not to take things too fast. Here are a few tips to help slow things down:
Don’t trust people too quickly or easily.
Being trustworthy is a virtue, but being too trusting is not. Jesus Himself loved everyone, but he did not trust everyone. Of Judas He said, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (John 6:70). Trust must be earned. If it is lost, it must be regained slowly. Don’t be too quick to give your heart to someone. Wait and make sure someone really deserves your trust. This is true for any type of relationship. As you mature you will grow in your ability to recognize trustworthy people. There are people in my life that I can trust with my heart, my money—everything. I have this kind of relationship with them because they have clearly demonstrated their honesty and faithfulness over time.
Don’t rush emotional intimacy.
All of us have deep things within our soul that we want to share with others. We want to talk about our hopes, dreams, hurts, secrets, innermost thoughts, and the list goes on. Sometimes we get too eager to do this. If we share too much too quickly we are asking for trouble.
This is where I want to talk to you about the “L word”—love. We throw this word around and misuse it. Remember that love is not just a feeling. Love means respect, commitment, friendship, sacrifice, and many other things. It is easy for young people to confuse lust, infatuation or attraction for love. In other words, don’t tell someone “I love you” just because you have strong feelings for them. The “L word” will begin to lose its meaning if you say it to every person that you have feelings for.
Don’t rush physical intimacy.
Do you remember the first time you held hands with someone of the opposite sex? It probably caused you to feel warm and tingly all over. Physical affection is extremely exciting and enjoyable. The problem is it can also be very confusing. It can put you on an emotional roller coaster. Physical affection can make you think your relationship is better or deeper than it actually is.
Hopefully you are committed to wait until marriage for the ultimate act of physical intimacy—sex (by that I mean any type of sex). If you plan to wait, then why rush things? Why get in a hurry to hold hands, hug or put your arm around him/her? Give it some time and make sure you really know this person. Too much affection too soon will only confuse you.
Remember that the level of intimacy (physical or emotional) should be matched by the level of commitment. For example: the highest level of physical intimacy (sex) should only happen within the highest level of commitment (marriage). Intimacy should only grow as fast as the level of commitment is growing. Don’t give your heart away when there is no commitment.
Don’t spend too much time with one person.
Have you ever had a friend who “disappeared” once they got a girlfriend/boyfriend? Maybe they decided to spend every available moment with this new person. It is not healthy to give too much time to a new person/relationship. It creates too much dependence. Increase the time you spend with someone slowly. Don’t forget your friends—you will always need them.
Focus on Friendship.
Romance is a beautiful thing. Friendship, however, is what causes relationships to last. Do you want your husband/wife to be your best friend? Then learn how to slowly build a friendship. Make sure you have found someone that you really enjoy talking with. You and your spouse will spend more time talking with each other than doing anything else together. Don’t forget that.
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