Single? Looking for the "right person"? Convinced that if you met the "right person" everything would turn out "right?" Think again.
In The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating, Andy Stanley explores the challenges, assumptions, and pitfalls associated with dating in the twenty-first century. This guide takes a fresh approach to dating and love in the modern era by turning the search for "the one" back onto the searcher, challenging you to ask yourself tough questions like:
- Am I the person that the person I'm looking for is looking for?
- Are the Bible's teachings about women relevant today?
- If sex is only physical, why is the pain of sexual sin so deep?
As you dig deep into Stanley's answers, you'll be equipped and empowered to step up and set a new standard for this generation by uncovering the things that create trouble in dating relationships and creating better habits now that will pay off later as you dive into married life.
Praise for The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating:
"No one speaks more powerfully and practically into the issues of dating and marriage in the twenty-first century than Andy Stanley. The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating is an exceptional resource for anyone seeking to navigate challenging relationship waters and survive in a culture that's confused and complex. Straightforward. Graceful. Truthful. Needed." Louie Giglio, Passion City Church, Passion Conferences
"Andy's new rules for love, sex, and dating are so wise, so compelling, so clear that I want every single friend I have to read this book, and I want to save a couple copies for my boys, so they can read it in a decade or so." Shauna Niequist, author of I Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet
"Having experienced more than my fair share of destructive, harmful dating relationships, I can authoritatively say that Andy's views on the matter are clear and convicting. Andy so beautifully conveys the message of the unfathomable grace of God, leaving you free to turn a leaf and begin a new dating chapter, making better decisions and living with fewer regrets." —Maggie Bridges, Miss Georgia 2014
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The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating
By Andy Stanley
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Andy Stanley
All rights reserved.
THE RIGHT PERSON MYTH
At the center of every great love story are two people who are right for each other, destined to be together. We're usually able to spot 'em three or four scenes into a movie or a half-dozen chapters into a novel. You just know. usually before they do. Three hundred pages or a hundred and twenty minutes later they've figured out what we knew all along, leaving us entertained and, in some cases, inspired by their story.
Then there's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. In the case of these two reality Tv shows, we don't know who's right for whom until the end. We think we do. That's what makes it so entertaining. But in the end, regardless of how many potential right candidates there are, one and only one is chosen. The right one.
I say "hopefully" because every hardcore B' and B'ette fan scans the Internet for weeks following that final episode to see who was right after all. As of the writing of this book, it appears that five contestants chose well. The others? They moved on to the next right person.
I realize that you realize movies, reality Tv, and novels don't reflect real life. I assume you don't take your relationship cues from script writers and authors. But it's possible you've embraced the underlying premise that holds these story lines and episodes together. That assumption being: there's a right person for you, and once you find your right person, everything will be all right.
I call this The right Person Myth.
The myth isn't, There's a right person for you out there somewhere. There may very well be. The myth is that once you find the right person, everything will be all right. My hunch is you're smart enough to know why that's a myth. The current divorce rate pretty much says it all. Consider this. Every man and woman who have navigated the pain and complexity of divorce stood in front of a preacher, priest, or justice of the peace and made vows to the right person. Every single one. But eventually they discovered something wrong with Mr. or Miss right. Then there's this. A good many divorced men and women had already located right person 2.0 while in the process of divorcing right person 1.0. And the whole thing begins again.
You may not believe there's one right person for you, but you are looking for the right person. Aren't you? Of course you are. What option do you have? Go looking for the wrong person? No person? How 'bout an arranged marriage? There's a thought. Who would your parents have arranged for you?
Looking for the right person is a great idea as long as you don't assume that finding the right person ensures everything will be all right. Looking for the right person is essential; it's just not enough. There's more to a satisfying relationship than finding the right person. As I mentioned in the introduction, more is what this book is all about. Problem is, we don't hear much about the more side of the relational equation. understandably so. It doesn't make for great film or reality Tv. However, it does make for great relationships. It's this undervalued side of the equation that keeps romance romantic. On a personal note, it's why I love going home at the end of the day. TMI.
Before we explore more, let's think together for just a paragraph or two about what makes a right person a right person. There are a number of factors, among them beauty, talent, confidence, intelligence, depth, wit, family, wealth, weight, height, career, and personality. Admit it, you have a list. Everybody has a list. Online dating services wouldn't work if people didn't have lists. But at the end of the day, our lists are not the deciding factors, are they? In the end it comes down to two things (actually maybe one thing, but for the sake of clarity I'll keep them separate): chemistry and attraction. At age fifteen, attraction is enough. But I doubt there are too many fifteen-year-olds reading this. While most everybody has a mental list of what makes the right person the right person, most people abandon their lists for physical attraction and chemistry.
When you're physically attracted to someone and there's that extra something we will refer to as chemistry, it just feels right, doesn't it?
When it feels right, it's easy to assume it is right. And sometimes it is.
This explains why we've heard people say, "The first time we met, I knew we would be together." Somehow they just knew. They knew before they got to know each other. Strange. Strange but not uncommon. While instant chemistry is common, instant chemistry that dovetails into an instantly healthy relationship with until-death-do-us-part potential is not. Show me a couple who are attracted to each other and share that certain something, and I'll show you a couple convinced they are right for each other. So right that nothing could possibly go wrong. Right? Been there? We all have. But as I'm fond of saying, falling in love is easy; it requires a pulse. Staying in love requires more. There's that word again.
Since the title of this book promises SEX, I thought we should introduce the topic in this first chapter. But this isn't the sex talk. That's in chapter eight. If you can't wait, feel free to flip or swipe ahead ... as long as you promise to come back and read the first seven chapters.
When a relationship feels right, it's a powerful thing. Deceptively powerful. It's no wonder that the righter a relationship feels, the quicker we are tempted to take things further. Why not? Physical attraction isn't like art appreciation. It's not something you admire from a distance. Physical attraction is like hunger. It's something you satisfy. It's part of the attraction–chemistry continuum. If a couple shares a passion for the same foods, music, and sports teams, it makes sense they need to find out if that passion extends to the bedroom. And what do you know? In the majority of cases, it does. While adding a dose of physical involvement into the mix makes a relationship more exciting and enjoyable, it also makes it more complicated. But for the most part, that doesn't stop us, which brings us to our first "doesn't everybody know that?" moment. This is where I state the obvious, with a preposition at the end.
You are sexually compatible with far more people than you are relationally compatible with.
Not a single male reading this book will underline that statement. Of course our sexual compatibility outstrips our relational compatibility. By a long shot. Several million to one. Which means if you're sexually involved with someone right now, the next time the two of you are in the middle of lovemaking, look each other in the eye and say, "You are one of a million!" To which your partner will say (assuming he or she hasn't read this fascinating book), "Don't you mean, I'm one in a million?" To which you can say, "No, you're one of a million. I'm sexually compatible with a million other people. You're just one of 'em!"
Okay. Terrible idea.
This "tell me something I don't already know" insight underscores why experimenting sexually to ensure you've found the right person is a bad idea. Sexual compatibility is important. real important. But sexual compatibility is not the litmus test for relational compatibility. In fact, it's the other way around. Exhibit A: Why did your last relationship end? What happened? Did it have anything to do with sexual incompatibility? Losing interest in sex with someone isn't the same as being sexually incompatible. Losing interest in sex with someone is always a manifestation of something else. Something deeper. My hunch is the root of your previous relational challenges was ... relational, not sexual. Chances are you would have addressed the relational challenges more quickly if you hadn't been physically involved. In fact, you would have ended the relationship sooner if you hadn't been sexually involved. Sex is a bit like glue. You shouldn't apply it until you're absolutely sure you're ready to stick two things together permanently. Apply it too soon, and you'll have a mess once you realize your mistake. I know, sounds like something your momma would say.
Not only is sex not the litmus test for relational compatibility, it actually inhibits and distracts from relational development. Why? Because sex has the capacity to camouflage an endless list of relational deficiencies and dysfunctions. romance overpowers objectivity, which will work to your advantage in marriage. But before marriage, a lack of objectivity is dangerous. Sex distorts positive and negative traits in a partner. Men and women exaggerate the good and turn a blind eye to the things that would normally give them pause. Once a couple is physically involved, they overlook and ignore characteristics and habits that would otherwise cause them to mark someone off their lists.
Now, if you can relate to the previous three paragraphs and you're wondering why you weren't smart enough to recognize what was happening when it was happening, I have a bit of encouraging news. It wasn't completely your fault. Your brain played a trick on you. For years researchers have studied the brain's response to a variety of external stimuli, including specific appetites.
Along the way they discovered a cognitive bias someone labeled focalism. Focalism is the brain's tendency to magnify one thing to the exclusion of everything else. Focalism distorts reality, be that reality food, a dress, a car, or, yes, a person. You've experienced focalism many times, and most instances were harmless. We've all driven miles out of our way to get a favorite dessert, fast food sandwich, or specialty coffee. We had to have that particular one. Nothing else would suffice. We've all made impulse purchases we later regretted. Similarly, we've tried our best to buy something, attend something, or contact someone that didn't work out. Twenty-four hours later, we were relieved that it didn't. Focalism, along with a short list of other cognitive biases, has the potential to trick us into making bad decisions. That potential increases dramatically in emotionally charged environments. And what's more emotionally charged than romance?
Romance is like a fog. Nobody sees clearly. Couples begin to believe no one has ever loved the way they love. Not their mommas or their grandmommas. Not romeo and Juliet. Not William and Kate. Not even Edward and Bella.
It's almost impossible to recognize any of this in the mirror. But you immediately recognize it in your friends, don't you? You've had friends introduce you to Mr. or Miss right, and you thought, Seriously? Really? Have you lost your mind?. They're thinking happily ever after and you're wondering if it's too late to say something. You know intuitively that they're as happy as they'll ever be. Once the sizzle subsides, somebody is going to wake up and wonder how he or she got into this mess. And you're not the only one who's noticed. Everybody sees it. Everybody but them.
Doesn't Make Him Right
The odds are in your favor. You will be sexually compatible with the right person. But sexual compatibility doesn't make someone right. If it did, things would sure be easier. That arranged marriage approach would work just about 100 percent of the time. Sex is easy. relationships are not. To test the potential possibility of a long-term relationship via sex is a bit like choosing a university because it looks like a university. Most universities look like universities.
If you allow attraction and chemistry to sweep you immediately into sexual involvement, you will most likely confuse sexual compatibility for something it isn't. Namely, a sign. The fact that you can't keep your hands off of her ... the fact that you can't wait for him to get his hands on you ... is not a sign of anything other than you are two healthy people who have stumbled across one of the many other healthy people in the world with whom you are sexually compatible. Makes you wonder if this right person phenomenon is nature's way of ensuring the human race survives even if relationships don't.
Physical attraction and chemistry combined with a routine of "my house or yours?" has the potential to diminish the importance of what you've always believed was important for a healthy, go-the-distance relationship. We've never met. But I bet we would agree on what it takes to create a relationship that stands the test of time and the unavoidable trials of life. unfortunately, those very things get lost or downgraded in the bliss of "we're the exception to all the rules" passion. Treating what's important as unimportant has a price tag. A big price tag. Perhaps you've already paid that tab a time or two. Perhaps it's why you capitulated and bought a book about something you always assumed you could figure out on your own. If that's the case, bear with me as I address my readers who have yet to find themselves in a relationship that promised much but delivered little.
As I mentioned earlier, falling in love requires only a pulse. Staying in love requires more. When a couple ignores more, they have relationship problems. Why? Because in the beginning they ignored all of that silly relationship stuff. They didn't need it. That was for other people, people who weren't in love like they were in love. But, over time, the connection that was once so effortless and passionate, so sexually charged, begins to fade. Instead of chemistry and passion, there's tension and frustration. The chemistry that fueled the right person mystique ebbs. Both parties begin looking for ways to return things to their former state. Guys suggest more sex. After all, that's what fueled things in the beginning. Guys view sex like a wrench. More on that later. Women are generally the first to use the "r" word. "I think we need to talk about our relationship." Women are often the first to recommend outside help. Men generally don't want any help. With anything. I'll tell you why. The way we figure it, we didn't need any outside help in the beginning, so why would we need it now? We didn't need a counselor to help us fall in love. We shouldn't have to hire a counselor to keep us in love. Besides, counseling is just a bunch of words. Like this book. So we don't go. And we don't buy relationship books.
Dumb Married Tricks
As attraction and chemistry wane, it's not uncommon for somebody to suggest having a baby. Men think, Well, that requires sex, so yeah. If you've never been married, you're thinking, Why would anyone bring a baby into a relationship that's already on life support? Good question. If you're married, or were married, you may be wondering why you didn't ask yourself that very question. But don't beat yourself up. You were looking for a way back. A way back to what you had. To what you felt. You were looking for common ground. Common interest. Couples try all kinds of things to rekindle what once was. As they should. The alternatives aren't good. Give up or soldier on in a lifeless, passionless relationship. My point is, finding the right person is no guarantee that things will turn out right. In fact, leaning into the right person myth almost guarantees they won't.
All the Wrong Options
Before we move on, I want to go back to the "maybe a baby will help" idea. Bringing a baby into a troubled relationship is a bad idea for many reasons. Not least of which is that one of the most morally vulnerable times in the life of a man is when his wife or girlfriend is pregnant. This is true in healthy relationships, but the temptation is compounded when things aren't going well. While 15 percent of married couples divorce within three years of the birth of their first child, the percentage of unmarried couples who separate after the birth of a child is closer to 40 percent. Children aren't a solution. They aren't meant to be. Children should be a welcomed addition to a healthy family unit.
But men aren't the only ones who start looking elsewhere when things aren't going well. As the right person approach starts unraveling, everybody is open to a new right person. And social media has made it easier than ever to wade through the options.
Excerpted from The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating by Andy Stanley. Copyright © 2014 Andy Stanley. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Right Person Myth 21
Chapter 2 Commitment Is Overrated 35
Chapter 3 Becoming the Right Person 47
Chapter 4 So Becoming 57
Chapter 5 Love Is 73
Chapter 6 The Gentleman's Club 101
Chapter 7 The Way Forward 117
Chapter 8 The Talk 131
Chapter 9 Designer Sex 151
Chapter 10 If I Were You 169
Small Group Video Discussion Guide 187