Developing relationship skills

  • Christian Chat is a moderated online Christian community allowing Christians around the world to fellowship with each other in real time chat via webcam, voice, and text, with the Christian Chat app. You can also start or participate in a Bible-based discussion here in the Christian Chat Forums, where members can also share with each other their own videos, pictures, or favorite Christian music.

    If you are a Christian and need encouragement and fellowship, we're here for you! If you are not a Christian but interested in knowing more about Jesus our Lord, you're also welcome! Want to know what the Bible says, and how you can apply it to your life? Join us!

    To make new Christian friends now around the world, click here to join Christian Chat.

cinder

Senior Member
Mar 26, 2014
3,940
1,996
113
#1
Was having a discussion with a single friend and as we're both lifelong (well at least life up to this point with no immediate future prospects) singles speculation about dating and relationships in general is a topic often visited. During this discussion the topic turned to relationship advice and how the ubiquitous " you'll just know" or " whatever seems natural" etc. isn't really all that helpful to those of us who have no clue how to get things started if we even wanted to. But the constrasting option is advice that sets almost a checklist, timetable, or role to play and is too much like ok on the first date do this, date two do this, wait this long to call, make sure to say these things and talk about that, and poof your love interest will be hooked. Neither of us really liked that either, and I made a comment "my problem with the idea of learning relational or dating skills is that it feels so contrived to practice a skill that isn't a habit yet and it just contaminates my idea of a dating relationship with a feeling of falseness."

And I'm wondering how other singles who are long term singles feel about the idea of developing dating or relationship skills. Whether it's improving your small talk skills, practicing seeing things from someone else's perspective, or learning to be more observant about changes people have made or their non-verbal communication (or your own), I'm wondering if anyone has ever attempted some sort of self improvement with the idea of this skill will be useful in establishing or maintaining relationships, if the idea is new and intriguing and people are wondering why haven't I ever thought of that, or if more like me they're like no way that would just feel false and wrong and I want to be completely authentic if I ever do get into a relationships I want that person to like me for me just as I am. How would you go about learning / practicing new relational skills and still be authentically you and not just playing a part?
 

CharliRenee

Member
Staff member
Nov 4, 2014
6,210
6,784
113
#2
Hi Cinder, always a pleasure...

To me, much depends on the connection, meaning different ppl bring out different things in us, all can be authentic.

It is so hard to enter into a conversation when dating (I haven't dated in years). It is just so uncomfy...🤔😳

I mean the direction and flow greatly depends on if the other is equally authentic. I prefer when both parties want to get to know the other more than have the other get to know them.

Does that make sense?

I mean if both parties are more interested in getting to know the other, for no other reason but to develop a friendship then yay, but if either are merely wanting to have the other know who they themselves are, while also making sure the other chks off all their boxes, then ugh ugh ugh.

It leaves little listening and a lot of anxiety, lol.

I suppose that I believe it just should not be so forced, but then again, I do not date, and am not actively seeking.

Probably means I'll be sitting at the table for one for the rest of my days.

Rut roh... I still have not answered this..

How would you go about learning / practicing new relational skills and still be authentically you and not just playing a part?

Very good question...🤔

Maybe if one went on lots of dates until they became more at ease, lol.

Let me get my tennis shoes as that date word makes me want to run for the hills, lol.

Looks forward to reading your responses..
:D
 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
18,100
4,844
113
#3
To me modern dating seems far too much like applying for a job. If you fit these criteria, if you look like this, if you can meet these needs, I'll consider your application. If you fail any of them I'm filing your application in the circular file. So you need to study all the lists of do's and don'ts and be sure you fit the role.

Feh. Too much trouble. If she only stays with me because I'm supplying something she thinks she needs in her life, she doesn't love me. She's just hiring me to do a job. Same thing the other way too. If she couldn't do anything for me, would I still want to be with her? If not, skip it.

On the other hand, if I do find The One For Me, I know it'll be a real lady, not just somebody who wants what she can get out of me. If I find her, maybe, someday...
 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
18,100
4,844
113
#4
But speaking of all the rules people have to follow in the dating game...

 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
18,100
4,844
113
#5
Also...



No, wait, that one loses too... hmm... How about a nice game of chess?
 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
18,100
4,844
113
#6
By the way, great thread Cinder. Don't let my grumpy old man act throw you. (I know you won't, but I mention it for others reading the thread.)

I just get so disheartened when people turn the dating pool into a commodities market. Instead of "I want to be with you because I realized I love you" they have started with "My life needs a partner, so I need to find somebody who can supply these needs I have." So they memorize a list of dating rules because they want to be the person somebody wants to select, and they scan everybody they meet to see if this one will match the list of aspects needed in a potential partner. That's not love, that's skills assessment.

Meanwhile there is a guy or girl looking for somebody just like them, but he or she will never find them because they are trying to be like other people so much they don't even know who they are anymore.

Ahem... so yeah, anyway... great thread Cinder. I'll hush now.
 

Solemateleft

Honor, Courage, Commitment
Jun 25, 2017
4,015
2,449
113
#7
Very intriguing topic... While I am definitely out of practice - not currently a long-term single - and not in a hurry to begin dating (as the end to a long-term marriage is too novel)...

I do agree with the contrived concerns... While there is something to be said for finding means to put your mind at ease to ensure the most natural and anxiety free atmosphere/vibe..
That being said I remain a hopeless romantic, with the hope that if/when the time comes I do hold the philosophy that honesty, interest and comfortableness are keys for garnering a pulse for compatibility in any relationship...

- To avoid un-natural anxiety or unwanted nerves - maybe exercise (yoga, or spa visit) prior to the date might help put ones nerves at ease vs attempts to go on lots of dates for practiced rehearsals in anticipation of meeting the real deal...
- Interestingly, when I was a young single - I never dated anyone without the notion of a potential relationship...
- More interestingly, I have now come full circle with the potential to 'go out' with a member of the opposite sex for the sole intent of exploring new friendships... Where this new notion is to strive to ensure that any new relationship is built upon a solid friendship foundation first... I think of it as a new insurance policy with the hope of mitigating risks...
- With that in mind - friendships are similarly built upon mutual honesty, interest and comfortableness...

Rather than fixating upon a potential blue-print - as everyone is different and everyone's date experience is unique to their scenario - I'd focus more upon addressing the elephant in the room... Who is expected to make the first move to show a sign of 'interest' in the other person while balancing the risk of potential rejection... My thought, is that if both people are doing their best to make the other feel comfortable (compliments go a long way) that naturally there should be signs of mutual interest in the air... The apprehension is when that ever elusive sign of 'mutual interest' is not obvious to the casual observer... If it's not, do not force it; if it is - proceed with the compliments and pray that HE will ultimately have a hand in ensuring that everything will fall in place in it's own time...
 

SoulWeaver

Senior Member
Oct 25, 2014
4,891
2,530
113
#8
I'm married so I hope my advice will be valid, because it helped me dodge the bullet while I was still unmarried. One of the most important things to remember when establishing and maintaining relationships is weeding out ungodly and self serving people, whom if you do end up marrying, you will be in for a world of hurt. (Actually, just by dating them, you will be in for a world of hurt)
Here's that filter (at the same time, the directions for self development in relationships):

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
12,522
4,483
113
#9
What you do is get your matchmaker to set you up on date, do something you both enjoy and then see if you want to go out again. I think thats it. Maybe take turns on who chooses what. After your 90 day trial if you are still doing stuff together then review it.

In working relationships thats what people do. But the thing that never used to happen was job interiviews. Why cos in the olden days you just asked for a job then you got it. These days thats unlikely to happen. You cant just rock up somewhere and ask for a job as theres hundreds of other applicants. If a job isnt suitable its better to quit early than have years of misery. So with dating I reckon treat it kinda like job seeking. In some ways when the right job for you comes along you just know, and you will stick with it through thick and thin. I really hate job interviews but sometimes they are kinda like dates.
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
18,721
10,384
113
#10
Relationship skills are like any other skills. You start learning and practicing because you see objective benefit in having those skills. You might see people around you who have skills that you don't, and who seem more at ease in certain situations. Relationship skills are really just social skills applied to romantic relationships. Those same skills can be useful in any relationship, because they enable you to connect more easily and more deeply with the people around you. They are a big part of what makes people "charismatic" in personality.

As for authenticity, I guess that depends on motivation. If you are learning the skills to manipulate someone into liking you, you're wasting your time and they will eventually see through you. However, if you are learning the skills to become more comfortable interacting with people generally, with the hope of doing a potential romantic relationship "well", you're on the right track.

Like any skill, there is a time during which you feel like it is not yet a part of you, and when you try to "perform", it feels forced. It doesn't come naturally, but because you see value in it, you persist in practicing. One day you'll realize that you just implemented a skill without thinking about it, because it had become part of your natural way of being.

I know this stuff only because I've been through (some of) it. I was very socially awkward for much of my life... almost Asperger's awkward. I've learned a few things and worked at overcoming my social tone-deafness. I still have a long way to go before I'd look forward to a cocktail party.
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
18,721
10,384
113
#11
I'm married so I hope my advice will be valid, because it helped me dodge the bullet while I was still unmarried.
Wait... you were single, and now you're married. I'm not seeing how you dodged the bullet.

;)
 

SoulWeaver

Senior Member
Oct 25, 2014
4,891
2,530
113
#12
Wait... you were single, and now you're married. I'm not seeing how you dodged the bullet.

;)
It helped me dodge the bullet by applying this Biblical wisdom to the (very wrong) person I dated before my husband. I got saved in the middle of the relationship and something started changing, fiance and I started fighting, and I didn't understand what was going on. It seemed like he was wanting to drag me away from God and was an obstacle to my faith. Yet he did have most serious intent about me and proposed to me. I was very confused about should I break the relationship or not. Was I being self righteous because I got converted (as he tried to guilt trip me)? To make it more confusing for me, he professed to be Christian (but of course in retrospect was nothing of the sort)... I asked a more mature Christian, my friend, to give me advice. He gave me that scripture. The light from that Scripture helped me realize what was going on, he was an unregenerate person, and as I became regenerated we did not go along anymore. Also, it showed me how badly I was treated, and how unhappy I was in that relationship. And the friend who gave me this discerning advice, is the man I married later.
 

love_comes_softly

Well-known member
Feb 13, 2019
692
755
93
#14
Very interesting thread. :) It's had me thinking a lot.

I'm at a point where I'm not "preparing" for dating/marriage. I don't feel like that's where the Lord wants my attention. I think we should all improve our relationship skills in general, but I think that's done by being around people, taking yourself out of it and focusing on others more.

I think most of our improvement in the dating/relationship skills actually comes during the process of dating or through your different relationships, not leading up to them.
 

Subhumanoidal

Well-known member
Sep 17, 2018
2,814
2,303
113
#15
It's cliche, but accurate. Be yourself.
As one that's never favored traditional dating behaviors i don't have a set way to go about things. Just some guidelines.
Personally i always start by being very open. Many might say too open, about struggles, problems, etc... if a person can't handle it, then i need them to move on and not waste my time, or my waste theirs, if i have things they can't deal with.
Often times there's an element of going by the individual and adapting to their nuances. Are they super emotional, or not very emotional? Do they get hurt/upset/offended easily or thick skinned? Figuring out these things is more vital than a list. Because no two people, nor relationships, will ever be the same. So how do you expect to have a list that is meant to work with such broad possibilities if that list is so limiting?
I'm not suggesting growing and learning are bad. But it often time takes being IN a relationship to know which parts of you may need to be worked on that may be an overarching problem among all relationships. Or to find which things you believe to be a benefit may not actually be any help at all.

People try to make a lot of rules and whatnot about dating, but it's an ever changing, ever growing beast. Having basic guidelines will be far more valuable than a set of lists and requirements. Because at the end of the day you are who you are. And it'll come out eventually. So just let it show early on. And if you're a person that hates to change, or feels you don't need to, it's good for someone to know that early. So if there are things that may be serious for them, they know you won't budge. Or if you're open to reasonable change in areas that are problematic for the relationship, then it's good that person knows that there's at least a chance you'll act on things if problems arise.

Don't overcomplicate it. Communicate, be open and honest and have a balanced willingness to see where your flaws have negative effects and to work on them. I'd consider those foundational, and simple.
 

Tinkerbell725

Senior Member
Jul 19, 2014
4,151
1,126
113
Philippines Age 40
#16
Be sincere. Sincerity needs no skill at all. It will just show in time. Because relationships, specially romantic relationship means time. And time is what we don't have. Because of all the distractions and insincerity in the world, more people are becoming single, lonely, and broken hearted. Although some are single and happy because they chose to spend their time on what they think are more important and worthwhile than a romantic relationship.
 

laughingheart

Senior Member
Sep 21, 2016
1,709
1,663
113
#17
I think we overcomplicate something that is much more basic. Be kind, be caring, be a friend, put your best foot forward and be yourself. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit and forget the power games. It is not us and them. It is not about techniques. Whoever you meet in life, make sure they know they matter and are special to you. Be generous and loving. Be a safe harbour. Be trustworthy. Laugh together, talk together and listen. Don't expect another person to complete you. That is the relationship that needs to develop between you and God. Don't approach anyone with an agenda or a list. You can't see the real them if you do. Do your best to make sure the other person feels better for having spent time with you. Relax and enjoy.
 

cinder

Senior Member
Mar 26, 2014
3,940
1,996
113
#18
I think we overcomplicate something that is much more basic. Be kind, be caring, be a friend, put your best foot forward and be yourself. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit and forget the power games. It is not us and them. It is not about techniques. Whoever you meet in life, make sure they know they matter and are special to you. Be generous and loving. Be a safe harbour. Be trustworthy. Laugh together, talk together and listen. Don't expect another person to complete you. That is the relationship that needs to develop between you and God. Don't approach anyone with an agenda or a list. You can't see the real them if you do. Do your best to make sure the other person feels better for having spent time with you. Relax and enjoy.
How can you put talk together and relax and enjoy in the same idea? What do you talk to new people about? How do you even get interested in the new people when there are so many interesting ideas bouncing around in your heat? How do you get people to matter to you in the first place? And how do you have a minimum of prescreening so that you don't let needy takers who have no interest in giving back vampire all your limited relational energy?

And help me out here, which food (well that typo is too funny to correct, it was supposed to be foot) is my best? My right or my left? :p

Not really asking for you to answer, just trying to show the reality of the interior world of those of us who tend to have trouble with the whole idea of "oh and you just start chatting, as you do.."
 
May 25, 2015
5,963
626
113
#19
How would you go about learning / practicing new relational skills and still be authentically you and not just playing a part?
When I was in my early twenties, I attended a Bible college. I found myself having friendships with guys and it was hard for me to know what was appropriate for a female-male friendship. I found myself sometimes attaching myself too strongly to where the friendship might die down.

I went home after freshman year for the summer and I really prayed to God to help me in that area. Because it was unhealthy to develop a crush on every guy who spoke to me. But alas, I was 23, first friendships with guys as adults, and I had no idea how to handle it.

I prayed that God would help me through it all. I prayed that God would put men in my life and that He would help me treat them like a brother, and not "marriage material." That summer, I lost a lot of weight from working out and eating right and I looked like a completely different person when I got back.

And, I got the attention from a few of the male students.

And God answered that prayer, helping me to treat those men like brothers. I did not develop a crush that year, even with the guys who liked me. And it was amazing to see how I can treat the opposite sex as a brother in Christ.

What God really helped me was whenever my mind would start to wander in the direction of, "Hmmmm, what if we started dating?" God would bring me back to reality and say, "Is this what you would say about a friend? Treat him as such. Do not create something out of nothing. You will know if it is someone I am leading you to. Just trust." And then I was back to reality.

It helped me tremendously for the past seven years and I have developed some lasting friendships with amazing men in my life. And, when I do have a crush, it's on one person and my mind just stays grounded now. It doesn't go to the future, it doesn't wander, it just stays where it's at. And it is a beautiful thing.
 

tourist

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2014
36,170
13,460
113
66
Tennessee
#20
Also...



No, wait, that one loses too... hmm... How about a nice game of chess?
I actually play a good game of chess but in the game of life I'm probably just a pawn. My wife might think that I'm a knight though. She is certainly a queen.