Every Christmas, my great aunt would catch me by the Jello cake and Rice Krispies treats, jostle my elbow and ask: "So! Do you have a boyfriend yet?" I came to expect the question at every holiday, arming myself with new reasons for my perpetual singleness. If I hadn't moved out of state by the time I got married, I would have enjoyed surprising her one Christmas with the news that I was, in fact, no longer single!
Whether you're facing a great aunt at Christmas or the ladies at church, chances are you've been asked about your relationship status a time or two. But while it can be amusing, it can be annoying as well. Sometimes it feels as if all people care about is whether or not you're dating! How can we respond with grace in these situations? Here are a few tips.
Give the Benefit of the Doubt
When you've been asked a thousand times about who you're dating, it's natural to react with irritation. But before you do, take a moment to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they have a genuine interest in what is going on in your life. Relationships are a big deal, and their question could simply be a way of expressing that they care about you.
Try not to assume the worst about their intentions. Most likely, the person asking about your relationship status doesn't know about the 999 other people who've asked you in the last year! View them optimistically and you'll be able to respond with kindness and grace.
Don't Let the Questions Make You Discontent
This is a tough one. When you're fighting for contentment in your walk with God, each inquiry into your relationship status exacerbates the issue. And while your questioner might have the best of intentions, the effect of their words can last long after the conversation is over.
The frequency of relationship questions deceives us into thinking we should be in a relationship and that something is wrong with us if we aren't. The Enemy uses subtle insecurities-and well-meaning words-to plant seeds of discontent in our hearts. If we dwell on these words and believe lies about our identity, the seeds take root. If allowed to grow, these thoughts have the power to make us doubt God's goodness, purpose and love.
Just because those around us think we need to be in a relationship doesn’t mean it’s God's timing. Don't let the pressure of the culture, media or friends make you discontent. Remember that in the same way God is sanctifying and strengthening you, He is also working in the heart of your future spouse. God has a perfect time for everything. Trust Him.
Take It as a Compliment
Next time you're asked if you're dating, look on the bright side! The very fact you're being asked can mean your friends and family think you're a great person-the kind any guy would be lucky to date. Instead of plunging into despair as you answer, "No," be encouraged that your friends care about you and think it likely that you would be in a relationship.
How to Respond
So you've given the benefit of the doubt, you've taken the question as a compliment and you're choosing trust instead of discontent-but you still need to answer Grandma at next week's family gathering. What do you say?
If you've chosen to be single for a reason, you can simply answer with the truth. But if you're not single by choice, you don't owe anyone an explanation for why you don't have a boyfriend. You can simply state, "I'm not dating anyone right now-just haven't met the right person yet!" If the person wants to know more, this could be a prime opportunity to share God's design for relationships and why you're seeking to honor God when it comes to dating. Personally, I was able to share the gospel because of these conversations!
You might be asked about your love life more times than you can count, but by responding with grace-and looking for opportunities to share the gospel-you'll be manifesting the kind of character essential to a quality dating relationship. Don't be discouraged!