Christian Dating Boundaries | How to Navigate Them

christian dating

The boundaries of Christian dating are . . . ambiguous.

Dating is, by definition and intent, somewhere between friendship and marriage; that’s why Christian boys and girls always try to navigate without commitment the confusion that romance always creates. God designed the two always to be paired, so knowing how much romance to engage in when commitment is limited is super tricky.

You want to get the most out of dating to see if marriage is in the cards (which is the healthiest dating goal). You want to open up enough for the person to really get to know you. But you also don’t want to get too emotionally involved with someone you might not marry; that’s why you still have to guard your heart because dating is not a lifelong commitment like marriage.

After all, navigating the world of dating as a Christian can be extremely challenging, as one must always be aware of striking the right balance between being too conservative and too liberal. Don’t ask us what conservative boundaries or liberal boundaries would look like in Christian dating–even defining these terms would be difficult. The results could turn out dramatically different if you were to ask two Christians to compile lists, one outlining conservative dating standards and the other outlining liberal boundaries.

Instead of providing a rigid code of conduct for Christian dating—no kissing, no cuddling on the couch, no staying out past midnight, etc.—we believe it would be more beneficial if there was a collection of Christian dating boundaries that every couple could establish through discussion with their trusted friends and family as well as in obedience to Christ’s word.


emotional intimacy boundaries

Christian Dating Boundaries Around Emotional Intimacy

“Above all, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23), which means that Christians are commanded to keep their hearts safe. Although this is a direct biblical requirement, the exact way to protect your heart while dating is ambiguous.

One area to consider is your emotions–if you want to ride an emotional roller coaster, that’s what dating is! Why? Well, dating is unclear because you are more than friends but less than spouses, and your relationship status can change at any time because dating comes with a limited level of commitment.

The greater the commitment, the greater the emotional connection should be–emotional bonds without commitment lead to broken hearts, and you should be able to share everything with your partner because the two of you have made one of the biggest relationship commitments known to man. However, since you aren’t yet in a committed relationship, you shouldn’t tell your partner absolutely everything.

So, how emotionally connected should you be in a Christian dating relationship? We honestly don’t know, but you should be connected, sharing what you need to achieve your dating goals and nothing more. In other words, you should be connected enough to know whether or not you want to connect more in the future if that makes sense.

When you are using a Christian dating app to meet potential romantic partners, you should have clear boundaries when talking about your future together! Like your emotions, planning the future together should coincide with increased commitment–the more you two commit, the more it makes sense to talk about the future.

There’s no need to talk about your first baby’s name or what sports you want him or her to play when you’ve only been dating for two months! All you will do is increase your emotional intimacy, which will ramp up your sexual desires, all while your commitment is still too low for these feelings.

There’s really no formula for this–we’re not saying you can never talk about children. But there’s a difference between, “Yeah, I’d like to have a big family someday” or “Well, I don’t really want kids at all,” compared to manipulative words like, “I see you as the mother of my kids.”

Conversations about emotional topics focused on the future need to happen as soon as the relationship gets into the “moderate” to “very” serious range. But if you’re in the “not so serious” zone and you’re talking about how the two of you will split vacations with your family once you’re married in ten years, you’re playing with fire.


relationship expectations boundaries

Relationship Expectation Boundaries

There are a lot of fun things to mention on a Christian relationship–and it should be fun. One of the best parts of dating is the hope it often brings. Hope is the joyful expectation of something good. Why would you be in it if there is no hope around dating?

According to Proverbs 13:12, “A fulfilled desire is a tree of life; hope deferred makes the heart sick.” If that doesn’t capture the conflict in Christian dating, we don’t know what does.

When two people go on a date and realize they want to spend the rest of their lives together, they “get their wish,” and it gives them great happiness.  However, it can also be emotionally painful to have unfulfilled hopes that a dating relationship will end in a split rather than a marriage.

Any breakup is painful, and the heart grows weary when hope is postponed; the greater the hope, the more the heart will hurt if it is postponed. While it will hurt, breaking up after a week of dating won’t hurt as much as breaking up during the engagement phase, when your hopes are higher and more likely to be realized.

Therefore, you should limit your expectations and hopes in your Christian relationship–aka, don’t get your hopes up astronomically high. Pray for God to give you reasonable expectations, plan how you want your Christian dating journey to unfold at each stage, and do your best to keep your emotions in check with logic.


Takeaways

Setting boundaries is crucial for safeguarding ourselves from entering into unhealthy relationships and engaging in activities that make us feel uneasy.

Boundaries also serve as a shield against individuals who try to exert influence or manipulate you due to the relentless pursuit of their own desires. Individuals who experience anxiety, regret, and guilt often seek to exert control over their surroundings to establish a sense of security. They strongly dislike being told “no” and believe they deserve everything from you (your feelings, body, time, money, etc.).

Christian dating boundaries are meant to guide and protect individuals. Boundaries are a necessary safeguard, preventing individuals from overstepping their boundaries and assuming inappropriate roles in someone’s life that should be reserved for a therapist, a higher power, or a committed partnership. Boundaries serve as a means of redirection. Guide both individuals toward the ultimate source of healing, restoration, and love–God.