By Liz Lampkin, Crosswalk.com
Dating is an adventure most everyone has embarked upon. The excitement of meeting someone new, dates, romantic interludes, and the feeling of this could be "the one" God has for me is all a part of this journey to marriage. Things progress in a dating relationship, and as things move forward, at some point, two people will agree on engaging in a monogamous relationship with each other. When this happens, expectations shift. The closer people become as a couple, intimacy, trust, and emotional attachment consciously and subconsciously shift into roles of submission. This can be detrimental to people who may not have similar values. So many women and men fail to realize that submission has several layers to it, and most importantly, it is not designed for dating relationships. Here's why.
1. Your submissiveness belongs to God. As an unmarried woman, you are to submit to God. Here's why.
• Submitting to God means you trust Him completely. Trusting God means you have faith in who He is, who He is to you, and what He is capable of.
• God is your creator. Without Him, you would not exist. He deserves your undivided attention, your undivided devotion, and your undivided service and devotion. It's amazing how women can submit themselves to men who may not be around the next morning but often falter when it comes to submitting themselves to the one who wakes them every morning without fail. Your submission belongs to God because He is God, and He is in control.
• You won't know the heart of submission and its attributes without first understanding that submission is a matter of the heart. As a matter of the heart, submission entails love, humility, vulnerability, compassion, selflessness, and spirit-led vision. To fully express each of these attributes, you must have a profound relationship with God. In order to have a deep relationship with God, you must submit to His will for the life He's given you.
2. Husband and wife covenant.
When it comes to submission in relationships, the aspect often exercised in dating are the submissive roles designed for husband and wife. Submission in marriage is the act of man and wife submitting themselves to God and each other. In the marriage, both people come together as one in Christ and submit to His will for their marriage and each other. This is where acts of service, intercourse, and other roles come into play to make the marriage a success for both people. Specifically, women often reposition themselves into the role of submission when in a monogamous dating relationship for a number of reasons; to prove they are wife material, fear of losing the one they're with, fear of loneliness, or this is what they've been programmed to believe. Many women believe that if they become subservient to a man, their actions will secure marriage. It doesn't. When you're in a dating relationship, things should be kept fun and light until the two of you are led into engagement and marriage.
3. It changes mindsets.
When you submit to your boyfriend, it gives him authority or the mindset that he is your husband when that may not be his intention. This can place him in an uncomfortable position and possibly pressure him into making a decision that can be detrimental to the relationship as a whole. It also shifts your mindset as his partner from a dating relationship to potential marriage or even the role of wife. This can be damaging to a woman in various ways:
• It can damage her self-esteem. If a woman's submissiveness does not lead to marriage, she may begin to think that she's not good enough. This can lead to desperation, settling for less than what she deserves, or even depression.
• It can make her doubt her faith in God. If a woman has been praying for marriage and has been in a long-term relationship that did not lead to it, it can make her question whether or not God heard her prayers.
• It can deplete the love that was intended for her husband. Giving your all to a relationship that did not end the way you anticipated can drain you. It can also distort your image of love and make you bitter.
4. It takes away the value of long-term commitment.
If you give everything you have to a dating relationship, what will you and your partner have to look forward to it if you decide to get married? While there are many things beautiful marriage brings, you don't want to delve into them prematurely. Planning a future together is a wonderful thing; however, giving boyfriend's husband privileges and vice versa can go awry if there is no real commitment.
5. It creates a false sense of security.
Relationships of all kinds can be tricky. Many couples consciously and subconsciously submit to each other while dating. This happens when people become comfortable and complacent with each other. In turn, it creates a false sense of security. Once people become comfortable and complacent, certain acts of service become the norm. However, what happens if the person you've submitted to decides they no longer want a relationship with you? Or better yet, while in the dating relationship, they were actively dating others while dating you? Without mutual loyalty, trust, respect, and commitment, submission to someone will always create a false sense of security. Why? Because while you're engaged in a dating relationship, the person does not have to commit solely to you. No matter what you say, do or sacrifice to secure someone's heart, they don't have to give it to you unless they want to.
6. It creates feelings of regret.
People often put their best foot forward when dating someone. They do this to prove they are worthy of marriage. They cook, clean, loan money, perform sexual acts and sacrifice themselves or other relationships for one person who may or may not commit to them. If someone does not have the same mindset and spirit-led goal of commitment and things end unexpectedly, feelings of regret can begin to fester. Regret is the negative emotion that comes about when someone believes if they changed their actions (past or present) they would have achieved different outcomes. Regret can often lead to feelings of shame, sadness, or withdrawal. Submissiveness in a dating relationship gone wrong can definitely create feelings of regret. So how does someone avoid regret in a dating relationship? Take a look below:
• Set boundaries for yourself. Let it be known to your partner what you will or won't do before you say "I do."
• Have serious conversations and ask the hard questions about each other's relationship goals early. When you have the conversation, listen to each other, ask questions for clarity and be clear about what you want. Take the person's responses to questions for the truth that they are. Don't make anything else up and respect what they've said. This is vital for both parties involved. It lets both people know how to handle the relationship moving forward.
• Never have any regrets. Whatever you do for someone, do it with the spirit of love, and don't expect anything in return. This will avoid any disappointment that can come about if you give only to receive.
Submission is an act of love and selflessness. Love is an act of giving without the expectancy of anything in return. If you're actively or monogamously dating, take some time to ensure you're creating boundaries for yourself so you won't fall into submission without understanding what it truly is and who genuinely deserves it.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages
Author Liz Lampkin is an experienced writer, teacher, and speaker. She is an advocate for singles who encourages them to live their best life God’s way. Follow her on Instagram @Liz_Lampkin.