Is Promiscuity Affecting Your Mental Health?

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What if the good ol’ boys mentality is leading us astray?  Could our hook up culture be the cause of future relational demise?

Researchers are discovering links between the centrality of relationships and our mental health–specifically as it pertains to marriage.

And multiple sexual partners before marriage have a direct correlation to unsatisfying marital relationships.

According to researchers at Marri (Marriage and Religion Institute), mental health and chastity go hand in hand.

We might want to think twice before sowing our wild oats–because it might be the very thing that destroys not enhances our marital future.

Please enjoy this article…

Mental Health and Chastity

In a recent professional seminar discussion on the relational dynamics of chastity and monogamy  with mental health professionals in Arlington VA a powerful concept came to the fore:  the centrality of relationships to the life of each person.  A person’s life is as good as the relationships he or she has formed.  

The most powerful human relationship is that of marriage. One therapist noted: “In lots of our work the marriage is the client. We often treat the marriage not the individuals.”  That this relationship is quite sensitive to the lifelong chastity of the couple was the focus of much of the discussion.

 As the charts on the demographics of sexual partnering were reviewed the conclusion drawn was that chastity is the virtue which gives sex its due. The sexual relationship, fundamental to the continuance of the human race, will go powerfully in one of two different directions: binding the couple forever in love and fidelity or instead leaving the permanent weakness of a bond that ended in rejection.  Chastity leads to the first; multiple partners lead to the second. The following chart shows the percent of stable marriages as relating to the number of sexual partners experienced.

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Love is a Choice not a Feeling

How to Blow A First Date

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I’m plodding away on the treadmill at the gym, when a “reality” real estate show pops up on the screen.  Halfway through the episode, they highlight two different scenarios of single male brokers out on dates.

And quite honestly, both were examples of “how to blow it.”

Both of these guys started out well—they asked a woman out and she said yes.  Good job guys!  That’s the first hurdle.  But it went downhill  fast.

Guy #1.  This young man is a “nice guy” type.  He’s funny and geeky and cute in a New York sort of way.  Since I see his HUGE commissions on the listings, I know he’s a successful and confidant businessman in real estate.  As far as looks go, dater #1 isn’t the most physically attractive guy, but he’s nicely groomed and put together, and quite frankly most women aren’t as image conscious as men, so he’s certainly attractive enough.  His date is a classy gal.  I can tell she really wants to like him, but their date is challenging to say the least.

Here’s what went wrong:

  1. He’s EARLY! 

He calls her thirty minutes ahead to make sure she is ready and then picks her up fifteen minutes early.  Obvious OCD is not attractive.  Guys, please!  Don’t arrive early.  Your date is trying to get ready and look pretty for you.  Don’t mess up this process!  On the other hand, don’t show up late either.  Be respectful and arrive on time.  Call if you are running late.

  1. He’s indecisive

When the waiter comes by to get their drinks, he keeps deferring back to the woman.  Guys, ladies hate that!  Sure, give us a say in the decision, but please know your own mind!  Do you like red wine, a cocktail, beer, a soda, or water? Do you enjoy meat or fish?  Figure this out before you go on a date because we don’t want to wait (along with the server) while you have a mental crisis at the table.

(And for the record, Tim and I suggest not drinking on dates so you have a clear head and don’t act idiotic—but that’s another blog)

  1. He has zero social skills. 

I’m not talking about “game” here or even charm, it’s just plain awkward the entire date! There are long gaps in between their conversation.  He doesn’t seem interested in her. When he does talk out loud, it’s about the bygone days when he was overweight and pimply.  This guy can barely get out a sentence because he’s so insecure, which he wasn’t in the business realm. I wanted to crawl through the screen and rescue him!  Clearly he lacks communication skills with women, which can be learned. If painful shyness with the opposite sex is an issue for you, seek counseling and find a good dating coach.

The date ended with him asking her out again and she declined.  I’m amazed she made it to dessert. Dater#1 I am rooting for you. You just a few dating skills!

 

Dater #2 

This guy is also a wealthy New York real estate broker.  He’s very attractive and he knows it—horribly arrogant and boastful—and I want to vomit watching him get his “game” on.  He too is well dressed and appears intelligent, sneaky and of low moral character. The girl he meets for dinner is bursting out of her low cut dress.  She is overtly sexual and I honestly thought, despite his douchiness, that she was pretty trashy even for him.

Here’s What Went Wrong:

  1. Bad Manners!

He’s late.  By the time he arrives she’s already had a few cocktails.  Now maybe he planned that because she’s raring to go?  He also takes phone calls during the date—LAME!  He checks out other women who walk by and even slyly asks another one out when she’s not looking. Yuck, yuck, yuck!

  1. He has an Agenda

Must I spell it out for you?  This is a high class hook-up.  It felt like a college frat party swapping out the solo cups for a good wine and lovely ambiance.  It wasn’t about meeting someone new or treating another human being with dignity and respect.  This was about sex. Period.

  1. He doesn’t respect women

Guys, if this is your issue—because you are damaged by a bad relationship, or numbed out from porn, try and limit the collateral damage of women you take out until you get some healing.  Find a counselor, get your heart right with God and when you can see women as valuable once again, then try dating.

Their date ended up with sex in the limo.  Her clothes were off before the door was shut and they had to fuzz it out of the screen.

I’m guessing he calls the other girl from the restaurant in the morning.

Have you had a bad first date experience?  

What do you Believe?

 

When Tim and I start a new dating series, one of our first weeks is always devoted to one simple question.

What do you believe about God?

And why does this matter you ask?

Because what you believe about God affects the way you date.

What you believe about God determines your behavior in the dating realm.  It is the core basis of how you treat people.

Don’t believe me?

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”—Matthew 12:35

What is stored up inside of you?

What are you putting into you?

God’s word?  Healthy relationships?  Love and Christian service?  Christian community?

Or perhaps it’s something else?

When no one at church is looking what are putting in your heart?

It would seem we have a choice to make.

Do we choose to treat people well based on the goodness of God living within us or do we choose to take our dating relationships out of God’s realm based on our own desires and selfishness?

Do we take dating out of the context of our spirituality? 

Do we rely on ourselves and tell God, ‘I’ve got it handled.” 

“God, how about you cover Sunday and I’ll take care of the Friday night hook-up?” 

“God, you handle the big things—like health and welfare and I got the women covered.”

Or maybe we let our loneliness supplant God when it comes to meeting people.  “It’s been so long God…I couldn’t help myself.”

Do we settle for sex instead of a real relationship or being dangled along as “just a friend” while someone uses us to get their needs met while our legitimate needs–like security and a future get trampled on?

If it seems like I’m a little too familiar with this conversation, I am.  Been there and done that.  And I’ll tell you a secret…

It didn’t work.

Putting God in a box and leaving him out of my dating relationships did not go well for me. 

In fact, it was a recipe for disaster!

Only when I surrendered DATING to God did he do the work within me to transform my heart.  And only then did I RECOGNIZE a good guy when he came along.

So, let’s take a moment and ask the big question, “What do you believe about God?”

Do you believe that he has your best in mind? 

That he loves you? 

That he wants the best for you? 

Do you believe that his commandments aren’t meant to take away our fun but to truly give you the best life possible?

Do you trust God’s timing because he knows you better than you know yourself?

If the answer is yes, then what does that mean about some of the things in your life distracting you from God’s best.

Things like:

Pornography

Sex outside of marriage

Dating unbelievers

Playing games in dating

Treating dating like a consumer marketplace

Dishonesty in your intentions—leading people on

Picking and choosing the parts of the Bible you agree with to justify deviant behaviors

Are you all in? Or just lukewarm?

The question is “Do you believe God or not?” 

–Samantha and Tim

It’s Just Coffee

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I had to laugh when I read this article—A Case for Skipping Starbucks: Get Better Results by Elevating Your Coffee Dates.

I might be giggling because my husband and I grabbed a Starbucks on our first date and gosh, dang it, golly…we still made it to the altar.

I understand the author’s point; although I’m not sure I agree or believe the coffee shop is the issue. The problem she identifies is really more about an attitude towards dating.

And the “it’s just coffee” mentality is often perceived as BORING.

There’s no dressing up. No excitement. No thrills and no hope for a lingering evening. It’s like an appointment at the dentist—scheduled, inflexible and straight to the point.

The “it’s just coffee” attitude hints at insecurity, barriers, time limits and a hold-back approach to dating. Caution is the name of the game and all too often folks in this environment have a hard time relaxing.

But again, I believe this has much more to do with intentionality and respect for the other person than where or what you do on a first date.

If you engage in the date, listen, act interested and smile…even coffee is romantic.

Tim and I met on Balboa Island, grabbed a cup of coffee and walked for an hour on the boardwalk surrounded by water, boats and sky. The coffee made us both a little bit talkative and we chatted up a storm.

I don’t think you need alcoholic drinks as the author suggested to loosen up. If anything, people use alcohol as a crutch in dating. You want to get to know the person without the beer goggles on.

She also suggested coffee dates after 4:00pm to make it more romantic. Again, I disagree. A morning date over coffee near a lake or park or beach is just as romantic as a dark smoky room. And honestly, you can see people better in the light—their nuances and body language.

There is evidence that first dates with a little danger increase romantic feelings. So maybe add a hike or a bike ride along with your coffee. Rent a kayak, paddle board, or even a canoe. Or simply take a walk in heels and get an ice cream cone—that’s dangerous.

I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money on a date or commit to a whole evening to have fun. But bringing an open attitude and an open heart to the date does make a difference.

If you find yourself scheduling SAFE dates, maybe it’s time to explore what’s behind your motives.

But please don’t blame Starbucks for a bad first date. It worked for me!

–Samantha

Online Dating Not for the Desperate Anymore

ONLINE DATING

My hubby (Pastor Tim) does a lot of weddings.  Back in the day, couples would come up with elaborate stories–let’s call them fibs–to cover up the REAL way they met, which was ONLINE.

But times are a changing.  In the last year, I’ve noticed many couples own their story and boldly proclaim, “We met on Christian Mingle or E-Harmony.”

Online dating is no longer taboo and a dark secret to hide in the back of the closet from Aunt Edna.  Online dating has reached social norm status. 

When I saw this study from CNN, I had to share.  The trend I’ve noticed from the wedding pews is spreading across the nation.

Enjoy…

(CNN) — If eHarmony or Match.com features more prominently in your “how we met” story than a smoky nightclub or the produce aisle, you’re probably not so reluctant to admit it.

Six out of 10 Americans now believe dating sites are a good way to meet people, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

That’s up from 44% who felt that way in 2005, the last time Pew conducted a similar survey.  Read More

–Blessings.

Samantha Keller

Photo Credit and website

5 Signs It’s Time to Move On

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The beginning of a new relationship is often a whirlwind of euphoria, emotions and intensity.  The last thing you want to dwell on is the negative.

Why focus on the yucky stuff when the awesome part is so—well—awesome?

But you aren’t naive enough to think any relationship is problem free, right? 

Although, it’s strange how some relationships are easier from the get-go and others face strife right off the bat.

The big question we all face, at some point, in a new relationship is whether it’s worth it to invest in and work on the issues or move on to better prospects. 

When should you work through problems versus throwing up the flag and admitting the partnership simply isn’t meant to be?

(Remember, you are looking for your best match and it only takes one to reach your goal)

If your journey to finding the best relationship is plagued with skirmishes and battles, ask yourself these questions:

Does this person have the 8-10 top qualities I desire?  If the answer is yes, and they have everything you are looking for, then it might be worth it to continue on and get help to sort out the difficulties.  If the answer is no, then consider ending the relationship.

Is this person free from all the negative qualities I don’t want?  Now, we aren’t talking about a laundry list of nitpicky items you can’t stand, but a general list of the 8-10 things that you really don’t want in a mate; for example: dishonesty, stinginess, controlling behaviors, anger issues…Yes?  Move on to next question.  No?  Consider ending the relationship.

Are these minor bumps to work through or big mountainss that signal significant differences? Some problems come up because a couple doesn’t know each other well enough and haven’t figured out each other’s personality, communication style and baseline belief systems. These bumps in the road usually work themselves out over time with understanding and patience. More significant issues arise from distinct incompatibility and extreme contrasting beliefs. These kinds of difficulties mostly likely won’t go away and will only get worse.  If one of you is a follower of Christ and the other is not, these issues will more than likely drive a wedge between the two of you.  Do not expect people to change their fundamental beliefs.

Are your thoughts and opinions given credence? Are you in a safe listening environment where you both feel heard and understood?  You certainly don’t always have to agree with each other, but both partners must be willing to try.

Are you already feeling smothered, offended, frustrated and ready to explode? Generally speaking, if you can’t get along well now, it’s not going to get better.  If you’ve already reached your tipping point by month three, it’s probably time to move on.

All relationships take time to discover and discern if it’s a good fit, but once you know what you want and what you don’t want, there’s no reason to drag a relationship going nowhere on and on. 

What do you think?

How to Get Over a Bad Date

 

Angry-DateOn some date’s, the skies part and the angels sing and on other date’s –not so much.

Oh, the date started out well enough (before her head twirled around like the exorcist because you said you ate meat) but somewhere between the appetizer and dessert it skidded to AWFUL with a resounding thud.

Another face, another wasted night…bad dates can be so disheartening.

But they don’t have to derail you from staying confident and ready for the right date to come.

(Remember it only takes one great date to make all the bad ones obsolete)

Here are a few tips to keep bad dates in perspective:

Love Sets Itself Apart

From the very beginning of our relationship, I knew Tim was different from all the others I dated before. We laughed at the same jokes, enjoyed easy conversation and reveled in each other’s company. I didn’t want our first date to ever end.

This is the exact opposite of most of my previous dates.

If you find yourself replaying conversations and kicking yourself for something you did or didn’t say on a date, then it’s probably not the connection you truly desire. The right one WILL stand out from the rest and you will know because it will be AWESOME!

Your Identity is Not Based on a Random Stranger’s Approval

If we believe our behavior, appearance or attitude should be perfect on a date and vice versa for our date, we are only setting ourselves up for failure. Learn how to relax and be yourself on a date and if the other person doesn’t’ like what you have to offer, than it’s their issue.

(Now I’m not excusing bad manners, if that’s you than it’s time for a dating makeover)

God created each of us uniquely and we come in all different shapes and sizes, with gifts and talents and abilities crafted by the King. If you know and REMEMBER that you were made in the image of God, then a stranger’s approval or disapproval will not shake your core identity.

And truthfully, when you own who you are and accept yourself unconditionally, you will be the most attractive YOU because it allows others to be themselves too.

Watch for RED Flags

If something your date says sounds bizarre, ask a few more questions.

Here’s a few items that might need more information and further explanation:

“I haven’t seen my kids in a long time.”

“About five jobs ago…”

“Actually we are separated, but the divorce should be any day now.”

“I just broke up with my ex last week.”

Listen to your intuition and be willing to walk away from a date to protect yourself and your future. Do not play mental negotiations because they are “sooo’ pretty or drive a Porsche.

Just say no to a second date.

4. Play the Movie

If your date has an annoying habit that sends you reaching for the bottle of Advil, don’t make excuses. Put this baby relationship to bed and end it now. It could be something minor or something major, and quite possibly maybe its a quirk or issue you struggle with because you are mildly OCD, but if terrible table manners or an obnoxious laugh send you over the edge, the situation will not improve with time.

Play the movie forward and imagine how their laugh or open chomping mouth will drive you batty ten years from now. If the issue is a non-negotiable for you, then don’t compromise.

Enjoy the Experience

Every date, bad or good can go into your repertoire of life’s experiences. Maybe the bad date can be redeemed as a funny story to be told at a dinner party or in later years to encourage a friend. Maybe you learned a lesson about a personality type or more about yourself on the date.

As long as you act honorably and with respect on a date, then you can part ways at the end of the evening in a healthy manner and maybe the bad date will refer you to a friend who better suits your personality.

Dating is supposed to be fun, so keep it light and take the disappointments in stride as part of the journey!

3 Reasons to Date Outside the Box

When I first met my husband, he was not my usual type.  Fortunately, I was at a point in my life where I realized my type was limiting my ability to meet a good dude.

I actually had the audacity to say to my now husband on our first date, “I usually date rich jerks, but it’s not working out so hot for me.  I’m willing to try something new, so DAZZLE me with your character.”

And thank you Lord, Tim Keller DAZZLED me with his character!

I am so glad I took a chance and tried something different.  It’s not that Tim wasn’t attractive to me –he was (very much so), but he was a pastor and being a pastor’s wife was not appealing to me.

When people ask me what they can do different to meet the one, I always recommend thinking outside the box. 

Get rid of your pre-conceived notions of types –color of hair, height, occupation, bank account, and unreasonable standards of beauty.  There is nothing wrong with desiring an attractive (to you) spouse, but a super-model or a mogul with deep pockets might not make you as happy as a healthy and heart beautiful man or woman with integrity and humor and intelligence.

Beauty fades, money comes and goes, but true character is a treasure to behold.

Knowing the distinct qualities you want in a partner is one thing, but focusing on a type can hurt your chances to find love. Over and over again, Tim and I notice that those who are discerning versus overly picky are the ones who find a great relationship.

Here are a few tips to Think Outside the Box.

 Say Yes to Different!

Do you usually date skinny blonds?  Ask out a redhead, a voluptuous brunette or dark haired woman.  Are engineers your thing?  Find a gregarious teacher or a soothing therapist?  Shake it up and dare to think about dating differently.  Stop pigeonholing people into categories and start having fun meeting new people.

Date and Discover

Challenging yourself to date someone outside of your box will help you learn more about yourself. Interacting with different types of people will also expose you to new qualities you didn’t even realize you wanted in a mate.

If you want to find a person who’s adventurous, healthy, and committed to fitness, BE that person!  Work on your health to attract health!

Create a Bigger Pool of Fish

Even if you live in a small town, if you widen your pool of people you are willing to date, you will have more options and ultimately –a better chance at finding a relationship.

Remember, you don’t have to date inappropriate people.  We aren’t suggesting hitting the bars or the prison scene, just different income levels and physical characteristics you wouldn’t normally consider.  Hold on to the core values you find crucial and eventually you will find someone who has all the qualities you love!

 

5 Ways to Improve Self-Esteem

Recently, a lovely young woman approached me after church and asked if we could hang out and discuss life.  She had some concerns she needed a second opinion on, so over a cup of coffee and many laughs, we sat down and chatted about love and dating and singleness. 

I carefully watched her as we talked and while the woman radiated joy, she also gave off an air of insecurity.  It was if she was just waiting for someone, anyone to love and appreciate her.

And it made me sad because she didn’t recognize what I saw in her.  She saw unworthiness where I saw beauty, kindness and intelligence.

I tried to remind her of her value and worth and hoped it would stick -at least as far as the parking lot.

Often in life, we are the Simon Cowell in our very own version of American Idol.  We become our harshest critic and berate ourselves, compare ourselves to others and give grace to others we don’t give to ourselves. 

And because of this we walk around feeling lonely and miserable. 

When our self-esteem drops, simple criticism from others throws us into a state of agony because we are already so hard on ourselves there is little room for more.  These toxic tendencies steal our happiness and true identity.

Increasing your self-esteem based on who God says you are can dramatically reframe your perspective on life.  This involves recognizing who God is and who he says you are, ministering to your own needs and acknowledging them, accepting your strengths and weaknesses, celebrating your positive qualities and making choices that enhance your personal wellbeing.

Here are five ways to promote a healthy self-esteem:

1. Talk nicely to yourself and be your own fan! Ditch the negative thoughts such as “I’m so stupid” or “I’ll never amount to much” and replace it with positive and encouraging statements. Find verses to memorize that lift you up and fill you with courage.  Repeat… “With Christ all things are possible!” 

2. Get off the sofa and move, move, move!  Consistent physical activity wards off depression, fatigue and sickness while lifting your mood and ability to cope with stress. 

3. Acknowledge your needs. Stop putting everybody else first! (Your boss, your kids -for all you single parents, your significant other) While God tells us to be a foot-washing and humble servant, he doesn’t tell us to be a self-sacrificing martyr (Bible heroes like John the Baptist get a pass here).  Take care of the temple he gave you.  Get adequate rest, take care of personal hygiene, carve out quiet time, set boundaries, eat healthy, and stimulate your brain by connecting with others.

4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!  When feelings of insecurity plague you, you will more than likely replay old conversations and analyze and over analyze peoples motives and so on, wishing you could change something you said.   You will over think your behavior and lead yourself right down a rabbit hole into anxiety.   Remind yourself that you are human and imperfectly wonderful and then MOVE ON. If you need to apologize for an errant remark, quickly make amends and then let it go.  While it is healthy to pray and reflect for spiritual growth, it’s also destructive to beat yourself up over every little thing.

5. Be proud of who God made you to be!   Allow yourself to be an individual with unique preferences, thoughts and beliefs.  Don’t apologize for but celebrate your differences.  My husband Tim is the most interesting man I’ve ever met –a true character of sorts because he is quirky and knows exactly what he likes.  And truthfully his self confidence is what drew me to him.  (See Top 10 Reasons to Celebrate Tim Keller)

Remember, we can’t control other people’s opinions and how they perceive us but we can control our attitude.  Don’t forget who God made you to be!  He certainly hasn’t!  Be proud of your distinct YOU-ness!

 

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