January 26th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

This is the 5th installment in our “The Rules for Dating” series. You can find the previous posts here, here, here, and here.


Up until now you’ve probably dated at the wrong speed.

Here’s how it typically happens: Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy ask girl out. Boy and girl go out. If girls likes boy they go out again. If they enjoy being together they have the DTR (Defining The Relationship) conversation and they are soon boyfriend and girlfriend. And depending on your faith and love commitments, many of the couples are doing whatever they believe is appropriate for boyfriends and girlfriends to do.

Wow! That’s fast.

The entire thing can happen in less than a month. Sometimes it happens in a few weeks. I want to suggest that that’s too fast. What’s more, I want to suggest that when the relationship goes south, boyfriend and girlfriend – who got together in less than a month – waste a lot of time and energy NOT going ahead and breaking up quickly.

I once heard a Christian business man say, “You should hire slowly and fire quickly.” And I think the same is true for who you date. Remember, the dating process is about finding a spouse and creating a life together. You can call another kind of friend if you just want to go to the movies. Take the dating process seriously.  Therefore – and I know this sounds cold and unromantic – you should treat your season of dating like a job interview.

Hire slowly.

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January 25th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Since I’m back blogging, I thought we might pick up where we left off in our discussion about dating and relationships. If you’re new you can see the previous posts here, here, and here.


Hearts aren’t toys!

This sounds obvious, I know, but when we’re dating or trying to date someone, we often forget. I once knew a guy who was in love. The one thing he and his girlfriend shared was that they were both madly in love with her. As he sacrificed his will and wishes she openly accepted all he had to give. His money. His gifts. His time and attention. She gave none in return. Frequently he told his friends how wonderful, nice, gentle and loving she was when they were together, but in public all his friends saw was her demeaning him, mocking him, and rejecting all forms of displayed affection.

Slowly it broke him.

After a while – and with the encouragement of friends – he broke up with her, but his heart had already been exposed to enough venom that it took a long time for him to recover. He was unable to trust other young women. He became distant. He came to believe all the worst of what she had said about him. His biggest problem was that he allowed this girlfriend to treat his heart like a toy, a plaything.

Proverbs 4:23 teaches us this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

All of your life bubbles up and spills over from your heart. It’s more important than you think. Therefore, you must guard it from people who – purposefully or not – would hurt, harm or break it.

But how?

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June 26th, 2011 | 6 Comments »

Last week I sat with my summer interns, both female college students and outlined “Palmer’s Rules for Dating.” The rules aren’t actually rules, but rather guidelines that, if followed, increase one’s chances of healthy dating and healthy marriage. The Rules have been gleaned largely from my experience as a youth worker watching high-schoolers and college-aged kids go about the task of finding a mate in the most disasterous ways. Since several people have e-mailed and facebook messaged me about The Rules, I thought I would share them here.

A few things to understand first: (1) These rules exist in the world of typical young adult dating. There are no “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”-ish type rules. I don’t have a problem with the book, I’ve never read it. However, these rules are aids in the world of dating that is familiar to most of us; (2) In nearly 15 years of working with students, the vast majority have been girls. Therefore, The Rules, are typical aimed at girls and designed to help girls; and (3) Some of The Rules are serious, some of The Rules are funny (or I think they are), but all of The Rules are true.


Rule #1: Boys Are Clueless!

I’m serious. Young men don’t think much, there’s not much going on upstairs. In fact, young men are very, very simple creatures. This means, whatever you’re doing to get his attention; He won’t notice. Don’t waste your tears crying to your girlfriends that he “doesn’t know I exists.” He knows, he’s just thinking about football.

A few years into my marriage, Rochelle shared with me that when she first became romantically interested in me, she started to hang around outside my classes, and sit in my vicinity  in chapel. This was completely lost on me. If a young woman wants to get a guys attention, she’ll need to do something just a little shy of  clubbing him over the head! You’re going to have to think like a guy. Think about it. What movies do guys like? Adam Sandler movies, The Green Lantern, Transformers; these are movies with horrible scripts, the storyline spelled out for a nine year old and more explosions than thinking. Subtlety won’t get you where you want to go. I would have never asked Rochelle on a date had not a mutual friend visited me one afternoon and brought a club with her.

We’re just wired to think differently.

For example, a young woman is driving with a young man. He’s quiet. She says, “What are you thinking?” “Nothing,” he replies. Suddenly her mind starts spinning: “What’s he thinking that he doesn’t want me to know? Is he going to break-up with me? What secret is he keeping? Maybe it’s the outfit I’m wearing? He doesn’t like it. Is my hair okay? Does he like someone else?” On and on it goes. And what is he really thinking?


He’s not lying. He’s simple.

That means if you want to date a boy, if you want something particular out of relationship with a boy, or if you want to get rid of a boy, you have to be crystal clear about your expectations. No beating around the bush. No hints. No suggestions. No “he’ll pick-up on my vibe.” To make him play a guessing game is a prescription for frustration for the both of you.

Movies will tell you that once you’ve found your “soulmate” (a topic we’ll discuss later), then he will automatically know your favorite color, when you’re discouraged, what flowers you prefer and when to give you a foot massage. Uh-uh! Won’t happen!  Remember, romantic comedies are written by women. They are the projections of a dream world. Real life isn’t like that. Like everything else in life, people don’t know things until they’re taught things.

And if you think that it should happen and that if he loved you, he would know these things, then you’re going to frequently feel unloved. Yet, you’ll know you’re loved, when he knows what you want and need and then he gives it to you…whether he wants to or not. These are things that a good young man will learn and learn to do over time, but he won’t know to do them initially unless you tell him.

I know, I know. This doesn’t sound so romantic. Well, get over it. I’m trying to set you up for a successful dating life, which hopefully will turn into a fulfilling, life-long marriage. The Rules create fertile soil for romance to grow. Stay tuned….

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