Voices: Dating trends are toxic – I now use prayer to navigate the sticky world of romance

From getting ghosted after what seemed like a flawless date, to loving someone who’s already in a relationship, we’ve both trudged through the minefield of disappointments that is modern dating. As best friends navigating the pitfalls together, we have had a front row seat to each other’s desires and dreams for relationships, as well as the tears of frustration that often follow.

In dating, we can all feel thwarted by our own past mistakes, difficult exes, and heartbreak. Meanwhile, we have to steer ourselves through a barrage of conflicting advice: putting yourself out there versus playing hard to get; baring your soul on a first date versus putting your guard up; keeping a relationship private versus sharing it for all the world to see. It’s no wonder some of us want to give up.

We wish we could snap our fingers and find our soulmate, or apply some magic formula to convince the universe to throw us a bone. But, if we’re being truthful, we know that dating is just as much about the journey as it is the final outcome. So what could help us as we traverse the rocky path of relationships?

We believe prayer is the answer. Not the sort of prayer that treats God like a genie who can grant our wishes, but rather a conversation with someone who will listen and help buoy you when you feel tossed at sea. Talking to God in prayer can centre us, giving us a safe outlet in which to process, vent and receive encouragement, just like a chat with a best friend can.

Once we realised that prayer is not a magic formula to give us what we want, but rather a source of strength, we began to feel more comfortable embracing the myriad of experiences found in dating. For example, when I, Audrey, first found myself falling in love, I turned to prayer to steady my fluttering heart and anchor me in the midst of my desperate desire to make the relationship last.

For me, Elizabeth, I found great solace in prayer while healing from a breakup. Through prayer, I was able to sift through my complicated feelings of knowing my relationship was not going well while also deeply wanting it to work out. I walked away from that relationship disappointed that it had not turned out the way I hoped, but prayer helped me grieve this loss, work through anger, and be reminded of my own wholeness, even as I readjusted to life as a single person.

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If you are curious about integrating prayer into your own dating life, we invite you to give it a try. There is no “right” way to pray. Simply come as you are and have faith that God is listening. Practically, this looks like being honest with how you feel. For example, if you are angry with your ex for not properly caring for you, tell God. If you are heartbroken and afraid of being rejected again, tell God. If you are bursting with butterflies and experiencing a love that feels too good to be true, you guessed it – tell God. You can pray out loud, in your head, or write down your prayers in a journal. Sometimes, prayer can even be sitting in silence.

Prayer is meant to be honest and messy. It’s a conversation with someone who intimately knows you and cares for you. So instead of trying to muster up what you “ought” to feel, tell God exactly how you do feel, whether it’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Invite him to be present in your anger, heartbreak, confusion, and delight. Ask for his help to forgive, to feel joy, to be brave enough to put yourself out there again, and to trust that the right partner will come along at the right time. God loves to hear from us and wants to join us in our everyday struggles and joys – and this means in dating too.