Monday, May 4, 2015

Relationships and respect

Recently I spoke at a conference for single moms. One of the mini-sessions was on "New Relationships." Here is what I shared with the single moms that day on this topic.

"Twenty years ago, my driver's ed teacher gave me the best relationship advice I've ever received. I often wish that I had listened to him sooner. “Ladies,” he said, “If a man does not have enough respect for you to drive safely when you are in the vehicle with him, he is not worth your time.”

He wasn't talking about someone who just truly is not a great driver. Nor was he talking about the man that gets that sparkle in his eye after a snowstorm and asks if you want to go to the nearest parking lot to do donuts. He was talking about the guy who is more worried about getting past that driver who cut him off than the fact that your knuckles are white as you grip the OS handle above the door, or one who thinks it is fun to speed, race, and whip around corners to scare you with his driving.

He was talking about respect.

I think we will all agree that in the search for the man God has for us, we know to rule out a few traits and behaviors. [Current] Alcoholics, addicts, abusers, liars... (those not yet recovering) these are men we want to avoid. We all know that. These are not the men I'm talking about 

Today I'm talking to you about the nice guy you've been dating or are thinking of dating. You have good moments, but sometimes you wonder if something isn't a little bit off. You catch yourself justifying things to keep the relationship together.

As single moms, loneliness is often a part of our daily lives. We love our kids, that's not a question. But, we long for the support that comes from having a significant other. What we don't realize is that keeping someone in our lives who doesn't respect us not only hurts us, but it sends the wrong messages to our children.

When you are in a situation where you are wondering where the relationship might be going, think about the word 'respect'. Is he showing you, and those around you that he respect you? There are a hundred ways someone can show a lack of respect. However, I have five questions for you that can help you get a better handle on that question.

Does he take you out ?
And I don't mean, “Do you make all the plans, go pick him up, and pay for everything?” I mean, does he plan dates, ever? Does he pay at least half the time? Does he pick you up? Does he ever offer to pay for a sitter so that you can go out?

Sitting at home on the couch and watching a movie is nice, but it is NOT a date. 
Coming over to do his laundry while you cook him dinner is NOT a date. 
Sleeping over is NOT a date.
Sex is NOT a date.

Does he keep his word?
Being a single mother means we have suffered through a lot of disappointment in our lives. It dampens our ability to trust others and what they say, especially men. If you are in a serious relationship, and you are not beginning to believe him when he says something, there is a problem. 

1. Either you have serious trust issues that are going to make it hard to keep any healthy relationship. Or 
2. He keeps his word so infrequently that you are unable to build any trust in him.

You deserve a man who keeps his word.

Does he make time for you?
How often does he text you randomly? Is he always busy? Does he 'forget' to call? 
Even if the rare times you do get together are great, you need someone who cares enough to make time for you. He does not need to be at your beck and call, all day every day.  

Is he proud of the relationship?
You should be dating a man whose friends and family know you exist. How do they know? You have met them.

If you spend the whole evening with a man on Saturday and on Sunday morning he will not sit with you in church. It doesn't matter what he says about “gossip” or “taking things slow” … cut him loose.

Someone who truly cares doesn't get mad when you occasionally tag him on Facebook. He is willing to change his FB relationship status. He does not have to be okay with your whole relationship playing out on social media.  However, if he is hiding you or hiding the relationship, then it is time to move on.

Do you have to make excuses for him?
As you were reading these questions, the man that you care about now, or someone from your past likely popped into your mind.

or some of you, when that guy popped into your mind, you were likely thinking about his but. Not B-U-T-
T … BUT. He would make more time for me BUT our kid-free weekends are opposite each other's. I do always pay for dates, BUT he doesn't have a job right now. I'm not allowed to interact with him on Facebook BUT it's just because he's not ready for people to know about us yet.

If you are thinking about his BUT he is either not in the place for a relationship right now, or he is not the right guy for you. Nobody is perfect, but excuse after excuse is not going to get you where you want to be, or where God wants you to be.

Some men will get a “No” in some of these categories because they are jerks. They don't respect you. They don't put your needs first. They want what they want. Love is the opposite of self. Someone who always puts himself first does not mean it when he says that he loves you. He may not even know what that word means.

Others will get a “No” to some of these categories even though they are not jerks. A man can be a really good person and still not be the right one for you, for whatever reason. As hard as it is to let go of them in terms of romantic relationships, you need to know that God adores you and he doesn't want you in a relationship with a man who doesn't feel the same way.

I talk about sex a lot because we have to deal with it a lot. Those of us who choose to abstain until we are married are up against a great struggle, both internally and externally.
God makes it clear in His Word that sex outside of marriage is a sin. But I am going to tell you something you won't hear often enough. I want you to know that if you choose not to abstain, or if you fall into temptation, God still loves you. God isn't angry with you. God can be disappointed with your choices, but you aren't going to Hell for having sex. 

Are you living your best life? No. 

Are you experiencing the relationship God intended for you? Nope.

But God still loves you. 

If you slip up and end up having sex, you can not let yourself be pulled into a downward spiral of guilt and shame and let that pull you away from your relationship with Him."

It's not an excuse to do whatever you want, it is a reminder that the God who created you wants you to get up and try again... remind yourself: God wants MORE for you than this. He ADORES you and wants you to be with someone who does also.
 For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
~Zephaniah 3:17


  1. I keep seeing this one picture on facebook, with scripture highlighted and underlined, listing undesirable qualities... then at the end it says "Avoid such men as these." and I'm here like "yep, no problem, that's only EVERY ONE OF THEM!" lol

  2. Good stuff Kindall. I have heard/read where you talked about sex before, and I have to agree that although sex outside of marriage is sin, it is not the unforgivable sin that sends you straight to hell. I think many Christians are afraid to talk about it as you do for fear of sounding as though it is not sin, and they approve of it. That said, you make a good point about not letting it be the thing that pulls you away from your relationship with God.