Is it time to take a dating fast?

A year ago I made a decision that changed my life. I ended a destructive relationship, and I’ve never looked back. But I learned something very important very quickly—I learned that I had absolutely no clue who I was! I’d had two long term relationships since I was 16, and I’d forgotten what it meant to not be part of a pair. As an individual my identity was a mystery.

At a Christian festival last summer I wrote a phrase in my prayer journal which has stuck with me ever since:

‘I will be the bride of Christ before I’m the bride of Man.’

The same night I felt God calling me to take a fast from dating, and dedicate a year of my life to Him alone. I’m as guilty as anyone of idolizing marriage, so I was wary of what the year might hold—a whole year which was guaranteed not to include the potential for marriage! I knew I needed to trust in God to lead me where He wanted, and as usual He didn’t disappoint!

I’ve learned more about myself in the last year than I had in the previous twenty. I’ve also seen immense development in my relationship with Jesus, as I learned more and more to cast my burdens onto Him and find my rest in His embrace. From my year of singleness, I’ve also come to realise a series of questions which I believe must be asked before I (or anyone else) enter into a relationship in the future…

1. Are you ready for marriage?

Right now I know that there is so much more work God wants to do in me and with me before I’m ready for marriage, so leisurely dating wouldn’t serve any purpose. That’s not to say dating is a bad thing, just that it should be intentional—and so if you’re not in a place where you’re able to fully discern marriage then you’re doing a disservice to anyone you date.

2. Are you in it for your own gain?

We all have those moments where we think a relationship would make us truly happy. We want someone to solve our problems, cheer us up when we’re down and eradicate our loneliness. But at the heart of all of these reasons is selfishness, and we’re called to love selflessly.

3. Are you satisfied with Jesus?

More than anything else, this year has taught me to hold Jesus at the centre of everything I do—knowing that He is the only one who can truly satisfy me. There is no substitute for Him. If you’re not satisfied with Jesus, then you won’t be satisfied by a relationship.

4. Are you confident in your own identity?

Knowing who you are, whose you are and why you were created allows you to bring so much more to a relationship. Being able to embrace the person God has made you to be enables you to fully embrace the other person. It also stops you relying on that person to reassure and affirm you, which inevitably puts a lot of pressure on them.

The truth is that you don’t have to be afraid of being alone, because you’re never alone! Sometimes God will have plans for your life which require you to be single for a time, but He is always there with you. He uses our times of singleness to teach and transform us, and to mould us into the people He has created us to be, and so we must allow and accept His work, even when it hurts.

As I reach the end of my year of committed singleness, I am so thankful for the journey God has taken me on and the opportunities He has opened my eyes to. If you’re struggling with feeling alone right now I pray that you, too, may be blessed with the comfort of Christ’s presence and the knowledge of God’s oh-so-exciting bigger plan for your life.

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Esther Rich 2Esther Rich has a bachelor degree in Psychology from Oxford University, UK, and is currently completing the Sion Community Foundation Year, working on their youth ministry team. She loves Theology of the Body, Papa Francesco and a good worship band. She is passionate about empowering women to be who they were created to be, and blogs at “For Such A Time As This.”

12 Comments

  1. Que bela postagem, sou brasileira e estou estudando teologia do corpo para passar aos jovens do grupo em que participo, estes artigos me ajudam bastante. Salve Maria..

    By Bruna | 3 years ago Reply
  2. This resonated so much with me! While I never outrightly declared a year of singleness, I’ve felt God call me to be Christ’s bride before I can even try to connect myself to anyone else. It’s really changed the way I look at all relationships– with my parents, friends, and members of the opposite sex that I may or may not be interested in. Thanks so much for being able to articulate what you have so clearly!

    By Aly Miranda | 3 years ago Reply
  3. This so made me cry!!! It is so TRUE!!!!!! I trust God has a plan for me!!!!!

    By Chrissy Faller | 3 years ago Reply
  4. Thank you for sharing your heart and your experience with this. The questions you put forth are wise ones to consider when faced with a potential relationship, a good reminder that dating should be pursued with pure and selfless intentions.

    I’ve actually been going through the same thing you described: four months ago I walked away from a stagnant, hurtful relationship and made the decision not to date again until the time is right (and by that I mean when God says it’s time). I had thought I was ready for marriage but through this experience, painful as it was, I learned that I’m not ready yet at all. I realize I need to take this time to heal, to find out who I am as an individual and as a woman, to learn what God desires for my life, and to let Him do His work in and through me. Whether that work includes marriage, religious life, or even consecrated single life, I don’t know…but I feel better just knowing that He knows and will show me the way when He decides I’m ready.

    Again, thank you for your insight and encouragement. God bless you!

    By Alaina | 3 years ago Reply
  5. I’ve been debating for months as to whether or not I should commit to a dating fast. I can’t say yes because I’m scared to let go of that kind of control- I feel like your blog post was the extra push I needed. Thank you so much.

    By Becka | 3 years ago Reply
  6. Thank you I needed to be reminded again to continue working on myself, to pray for my true vocation and to trust God. ~flor

    By Flor | 3 years ago Reply
  7. Hi, Esther! (Love your name by the way!) I think that dating fasts are healthy and I couldn’t agree more with your choice. However, I have to disagree with your statement that longing for a relationship is a selfish desire. The ache for companionship isn’t always self seeking. We need to remember the science of how the Lord created us as male and female. We are supposed to want companionship. Now, I agree that using someone to fill that void and knowing that the relationship isn’t heading into a lifetime commitment can tempt us to make a selfish choice. But the desires for love and relationships do not come from a source of selfishness. I do not think that you intended to imply so in this blog. However, I wanted to let you know that the wording may be easily misunderstood by some.

    Pax, dear sister in Christ 🙂

    By Michelle | 3 years ago Reply
  8. I absolutely love the blog!

    It makes a lot of sense.

    Thank you!

    By Denis | 3 years ago Reply
  9. Thank you for sharing this…I’ve been going back and forth in my head about what the right thing is to do about this long term relationship I’m in now. Although I’ve thought about them before, your questions really made me think. I would really love to take a dating fast, but it scares me and seems so much easier said than done to totally give that part up to God. I’ve bookmarked your article so I can easily go back and read it for reassurance. Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been thinking and going back and forth with in my head. And I’ve written that phrase in my journal…very powerful!!

    By Emily | 3 years ago Reply
  10. Good readings.

    By Destiny | 3 years ago Reply
  11. Wow. Esther, I teared up while reading your blog because I did literally the same thing. From 15 to 21 I was always in a relationship with someone. I am now two years strong without dating, and have devoted my time to my relationship with Christ, family, and GIRLfriends. I never knew why I couldn’t keep girlfriends.. and now I have the best friends I could ever ask for. What changed my life was 1. getting out of a bad relationship/cycle of relationships, and a book called “Authentic Beauty” by Leslie Ludy. It’s not Catholic based, but it is beautiful and talks about Jesus being our true Prince (not prince charming..).

    Like you said about yourself, I didn’t know myself. I didn’t really know Jesus. I realize now that He was what I was searching for in all those relationships. The guys I dated became my God. Since we were made to worship, we are inevitably going to worship something.

    Jesus truly does want to be our best friend/lover/savior/groom. He is our First Love <3

    Beautifully written blog! and Congratulations on the single year! Remember that singleness is a blessing <3

    By Marjorie | 3 years ago Reply
  12. Thank you so much for this, Esther!

    I had two serious relationships in my teen years, I’ve been single for almost 4 years, and I haven’t been on a date in over a month. I used to date around in an attempt to find someone better for me than my ex, but it didn’t work. I’m finding that my only option right now is to fix other aspects of my life and, as you said, not go on dates until I’m ready for marriage.

    By Amanda | 3 years ago Reply

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