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Are You Dating the Wrong Person?

Dr. Chris and Alisa Grace pose for the cover of The Art of Relationships Podcast.

How do you know if you're dating the wrong person? Is it a gut feeling, or do you wait for the warning signs? In this week's podcast, Dr. Chris and Alisa Grace talk through what it means to be in a relationship that isn't going well.

Mandy: Welcome to another Art of Relationships podcast. We are grateful for listeners like you. Let's get right into it.

Chris Grace: Well, welcome to another episode of Art of Relationships. Mandy, thank you too for your introduction. It's always cool.

Alisa Grace: Love that Scottish accent.

Chris Grace: I know. We're going to get you back on this program as soon as possible. Alisa, we've been talking a lot about dating over the last number of podcasts. I think we should continue and maybe talk about what does it mean to be in a relationship that isn't going well? Do you pay attention to the signs? Do you know when it's not going well? You kind of feel it in your gut, or someone says something. What do you think? Do you want to talk about that, maybe things that should be deal breakers, no gos, but sometimes we miss them or we underestimate them.

Alisa Grace: That's a good point. I think a lot of people do underestimate these, or they're just willing to overlook them. So yeah, let's get right into it.

Chris Grace: All right, so let's try this. Let me try agree, disagree, Lise. Do you agree with this or do you not? You've learned that your date has a long history of relationships. They date numerous people in the course of the year. In fact, they've dated five people in the course of the year. Do you think you should become number six? In the course of the year, you're number six. Yes or no? Is that a healthy or unhealthy?

Alisa Grace: I think I would be disinclined to acquiesce to that request. Yeah, I think I would have to say no. To me, that would be somebody that's a player, somebody that doesn't really take it seriously. I think I'd have to say no. How about you?

Chris Grace: Yeah, I think so. I think you might want to let him have a little bit more time to stop all the rebounding, the balls bouncing everywhere. Yeah, that's a good one.

Alisa Grace: Good point.

Chris Grace: All right, here's another one. Do you think that it's okay to date somebody even if, after a while, all the parents, both sets of parents disapprove of the dating? But you really love each other. Is that a sign of unhealth? You both seek God, but very few people see you two as being compatible, or they just disapprove.

Alisa Grace: Now, are you asking just the parents, or if it's parents and your friends?

Chris Grace: Yeah, would it make a difference, do you think?

Alisa Grace: Yeah.

Chris Grace: Okay, go ahead.

Alisa Grace: So which one are you asking?

Chris Grace: Well, let's say we start with parents.

Alisa Grace: Okay. Yeah, that one's a tough one. I don't think it's necessarily a deal breaker, but boy, you are facing an uphill climb if you go into a long term relationship, possibly marriage and family, when both the parents disagree and don't support the relationship, because when people say you don't marry the family, you marry the person, that is not true. You marry their family. That's who you're possibly spending all your holidays with, you're inviting into your own children's lives, so that one can be tough.

Chris Grace: Okay.

Alisa Grace: It's not impossible, but it could be tough.

Chris Grace: Yeah, it's a tough one. It could be a sign, maybe, that something's wrong. Let's try another one. Do you agree or disagree that you've been dating about a month or so, you're in this relationship, but one thing you find, and we talked about this on another, they do not have a sense of humor that is compatible. So, do you end it sooner rather than later? Do you agree it's best to end it that way, before you attempt another lame joke they just don't get it, because you really can't overcome another person's lack of humor. What do you think? Is that a bad sign?

Alisa Grace: Oh.

Chris Grace: Maybe it depends on how high you rate humor.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, because if you're a person that has, maybe, not a big, vibrant sense of humor, then being with somebody else that doesn't, maybe that's your speed and that's the way you roll. But if it is important to you and the other person doesn't share the same sense of humor, that could be a real yellow light to me.

Chris Grace: I see.

Alisa Grace: How about you?

Chris Grace: Well, yeah, I think so too. For me, and I think for us, we found that humor happened to be way high on our list, and after so many years of marriage, we continue to laugh at not always the same things, but most of the time, we laugh at the same things, like the same things, we like the jokes each other tells. I guess maybe not jokes, but we just kind of enjoy that sense of humor. So I do think it's a yellow flag, and you probably ought to be very cautious continuing.

So you brought up the idea of yellow light. Is it possible that you're dating the wrong person? How about if we titled this podcast Is It Possible That You're Dating the Wrong Person? You're getting signs. There are clear red flags, man, that we can go over. I don't know, Alisa. I mean, you know, they pressure you for sex or to brea boundaries. Maybe you're not spiritually compatible at all, and they never even care about that. Maybe they just ... red flags, they treat you poorly or your friends.

Alisa Grace: Yeah. I think some other red lights would be like dishonesty, any addictions, untreated mental health disorders or mental illness.

Chris Grace: Yeah. That's a big word, untreated, right?

Alisa Grace: Untreated is a big qualifier right there. Abuse. If they are abusive. If they were abused, that would be probably a pretty good yellow light, but those are the kind of things that you really can't ignore, and I think a lot of times in relationships, we just ignore the red flags because we allow our feelings to lead the way, rather than our God-given wisdom.

Chris Grace: Yeah. What about, I think it's a red light as well, but I'll get your opinion, that they say things that are hurtful, or they text things that are hurtful. Or maybe they constantly criticize you. Let's start, they always post something or send mean little texts. What do you think? I think it's a red light.

Alisa Grace: That would be a red light for me. Yeah, that would be a red light.

Chris Grace: Yeah. We're defining a red light here, Lise, as, I guess, you're in a dating relationship and you see these, it's probably time that you immediately either address the issue, or you take some space and time away because to continue in that relationship would be unhealthy. That's what the red light means. You stop right there.

Alisa Grace: Right. I think another red light for me would be someone that is not able to apologize or take responsibility for their stuff, responsibility for when they mess up or they hurt your feelings. If they're not able to say, wow, I can see that hurt you, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that, I was wrong, I'm sorry. Ooh, boy, that is a huge red flag to me.

Chris Grace: What if instead you do something wrong, and they give you the silent treatment or they withhold affection over some small transgression? That's another way to say, man-

Alisa Grace: The silent treatment?

Chris Grace: Yeah. That seems like a red flag to me. What we're saying, I think, Alisa, in this, is that we would say that if you're in a dating relationship and you see any of these red flags, right, they give you the silent treatment or withhold affection. As you mentioned, they struggle with untreated addictions, untreated mental health, right?

Alisa Grace: And even if they're being treated, that's still something that should be at least a yellow light. When we talk about yellow lights, what we mean is that it gives you pause, you pay attention to it, you recognize that it could be an issue down the road, and you carefully consider it.

Chris Grace: Yeah. Good. So there are some that are clear red lights. If somebody came into us and asked for pre-engagement or dating advice or relationship advice, the strongest red lights, we would say you immediately walk away, you immediately disengage, would be anything in which there's physical or emotional abuse, right?

Alisa Grace: Yes, absolutely.

Chris Grace: If there's any violence, they yell at you.

Alisa Grace: They name call. Boy, calling names is a huge red flag.

Chris Grace: Yeah. Any physical event, even if it's kind of in jest, kind of a wrestle or they push you down or shove you, that's an immediate end to a relationship at that point.

Alisa Grace: Uncontrolled anger.

Chris Grace: Yeah. If they do things that are destructive or dangerous, we would say. You know, yeah, we talked about treating your friends poorly. They just criticize you or them. Or how about one where they're saying I love you within the first few days, weeks or even month of dating?

Alisa Grace: Oh, love bombing you.

Chris Grace: Yeah.

Alisa Grace: You're just awesome, you're wonderful, I think I could see myself with you the rest of my life, and you've been dating for like two months.

Chris Grace: Yeah.

Alisa Grace: That's pretty scary.

Chris Grace: Yeah, yeah, especially if it's after just a week or two, because after a couple of months, you might start to really be in love with somebody, but maybe it's not quite as red then, but it certainly is red within those first couple of days and weeks. If it's early on like that, man, you're starting to look at something that might be ... and you mentioned dishonesty, if they tell white lies and things like that. All right, so those are red, and those seem pretty clear. I don't think a lot of listeners would doubt any of this. There might be some nuances to all of them, but the ones I think, Alisa, that are really more interesting and difficult, are those that raise yellow flags or yellow lights. Think about driving. You see a yellow light. A lot of us just kind of push through it and we drive through it. Some of us have had tickets by doing that.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, some of us have.

Chris Grace: Yeah, and we learn our lesson not to go through yellow lights that look most like, kind of like pink. The combination of yellow and red is pink. That's another story for another day. When someone has a lot of tickets speeding and stop signs.

Alisa Grace: That would actually be a yellow light for me.

Chris Grace: I wonder. I wonder. Yeah, driving behavior. Could it be a yellow light? So you're driving, you see a yellow light, and in your dating relationship, we're using that analogy. What do you do when you see a yellow light? You slow down, as you said, you pause.

Alisa Grace: You approach with caution.

Chris Grace: Yeah, so you approach with caution and you keep going with that idea. Okay, so let's talk about it. Here's some yellow lights, I think. Let me ask you this. Suppose you found that the person you're dating, you really like them, you enjoy them, but they just spend all day on things like Instagram and Tiktok, or maybe video games, right, checking their posts on a regular basis, and it just consumes them. I get it, we all need that. You and I enjoy watching YouTube videos or Tiktok. But there comes a time when you put it down. Suppose you're dating somebody and they just seem to be doing that all day and night. Is that a yellow flag or a yellow light? What do you think?

Alisa Grace: I think it would be a yellow light, especially if you brought it up, if you mentioned it, and they're not able or willing to curtail it. Now, you know, again, this would be somebody you've been dating for a little while.

Chris Grace: Yeah, so you have that ability to talk about it.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, and you've seen patterns. Remember, we've talked before. You marry patterns, not potential. So if they do this when they're dating, they're going to do that when they're married, and is that something you want to live with for the next 60 years?

Chris Grace: Yeah. I would say another one might be ... even similar, the phone today is now, I think, the big go to. A lot of people in relationships, it's really hard to be without a phone. But if even putting the phone down is hard for the person, for an hour or two a day, or they're constantly on it and they just never take a break, to me that's kind of a yellow flag. I really value, in a relationship, when you can talk and pay attention and you're not distracted. I think when another person pulls their phone out on a regular basis and doesn't at least have some sacred space, some quiet time from it, and they can't do that, it tells me something like maybe they don't have the ability to have quiet or just to get away. When you're on a date with somebody, man, you really want that engagement. If somebody is texting them and they push it aside, it's almost like saying you're more important right now. I'm not going to check this post. I don't know. Thoughts on that. We differ.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, and that's something that even you and I have had to talk through and decide what are some appropriate boundaries? So when we go on a date, we put our phones on silent. If the phone rings, if it buzzes, if it notifies that we have a text, then if there's an idea of ooh, do you know what, that could be the babysitter with the kids, and I'll ask. Hey, do you mind if I just check that? Is that okay? What that does is that extends courtesy to you that says, hey, I don't want you to feel ignored. I don't want you to feel like you're not important, but I just need to check this to make sure everybody's okay.

Chris Grace: Yeah. That's good, and we've had to kind of push through that a little bit because we have, you know, just different times that we find this too, right? Turning it off in the evening is hard because it's when you're trying to relax and have that screen time and finally check in things, but it also is a time ... It gets back to an earlier podcast when we wanted to date each other and still date each other. Man, it's really important that at that time, we create that as a sacred, quiet space.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, you have to really talk about how much is enough when it comes to time on social media, especially once you're married, but it's definitely a conversation you may want to have while you're dating.

Chris Grace: What about, is it a yellow light in your opinion if they follow some, I don't know, influencers or social media personalities that might be questionable or different, or they follow or like even questionable posts? You see that behavior, and you're like, wow, they liked that? Or they commented on that? Or they thumbed up that? Let's say in your mind it's questionable because it maybe doesn't show ... it's just outside of your comfort zone or maybe your moral values or standards, or they're liking something that you just don't agree with. Is that a yellow light?

Alisa Grace: Well, yeah. I think where you have to start with that is maybe just have a conversation about it. Hey, I noticed that you liked this post that so and so had up. It's kind of interesting. That surprised me a little bit. Can you tell me a little bit about what is it about that post that you liked? What were your thoughts about it and why did you like it? What did you like about it?

Chris Grace: Gosh, that's good. I think it'd be hard when you're ... I'm trying to think back, because you and I didn't have this temptation when we were dating, or we didn't have this information about another person. We knew some of the things that they liked or disliked. It almost seemed like when you find out that they liked very questionable things or followed weird things, and that happened back when we were dating, that you would just simply not really talk to them about it. Oftentimes you'd just like, well, do you know what? I don't think this is going to go in the right direction because we just seem to have different values. You find this either interesting or funny, and I just kind of find it almost ...

Alisa Grace: Offensive disgusting.

Chris Grace: ... offensive and disgusting. Right. I think maybe that's just enough of a yellow light to at least go talk to some other friends and a counselor. Call us up.

Alisa Grace: Yeah. Well, it could be indicative or signal a difference in values ultimately that you may have, so you definitely want to pay attention to it. But you may just need to ask some questions before you draw a line in the sand about it.

Chris Grace: Yeah. That's good. Lise, do you think, sometimes we get people who come in and talk about a relationship with somebody, and they mention that their friendships have changed, and they're with somebody who either doesn't like their set of friends, or encourages them or tells them all the time, man, stop hanging out with your friends, and you begin to stop hanging out with your friends, and you are only with this other person, or they only want to be with you. In fact, they're ditching all of their friends, and they only want to be in your room, hanging out with you, go on dates with you, be with you. That, to me, seems yellow. Why is it for you too?

Alisa Grace: Well, I think it is for me because that would indicate to me someone who is very insecure and jealous. If they're not able ... I think in a healthy relationship, you both have friends outside of each other. You have interests outside of each other. You do things apart from each other because that also helps you maintain things about you that are interesting and things that are important to you, relationships that are important to you. And if you're dating somebody who insists that you cut yourself off and isolate yourself in order to just be with them, you need to walk, or you need to run, not walk, I think. That's a scary situation.

Chris Grace: Yeah. I think it is too. I guess it depends on maybe getting some advice from somebody close, or maybe something that they know, bridging maybe that conversation at some point and just seeing, you know, is it just a rough time they're going through, or is this kind of something that is more just common for them?

Alisa Grace: Or maybe you just have jerky friends and you really need to re-evaluate the people you hand out with.

Chris Grace: Yeah, maybe you're dating somebody who's pretty perceptive and wise, and you need to consider ...

Alisa Grace: Why are you hanging out with them again?

Chris Grace: Yeah, so I guess there's the possibility that it could be about you and your friendships. Usually it's not. Usually you have some pretty good friends. 

Alisa Grace: Hopefully yeah.

Chris Grace: But on the other hand, sometimes you have some, yeah, you're right, jerky friends. That's funny. What about another yellow light we sometimes get. Do you agree, and how strongly do you feel about it if all of a sudden they've made some pretty dramatic changes early on, mostly because they started dating you. Maybe some examples.

Alisa Grace: He started rock climbing all of a sudden.

Chris Grace: Yeah, you love rock climbing and you love being outside hiking, and the other person, when you first learned about them, they hated it, but all of a sudden, they're like, ooh, I'm going to go to rock climbing.

Alisa Grace: Or suddenly you love gourmet cooking and the other person decides to take it up too.

Chris Grace: Why is that a yellow? Why would that be a yellow light? Wouldn't that just be, oh, I just want to enjoy them and learn what they're learning?

Alisa Grace: I think it can be. I think where it would come into play as a yellow light is when it has to do with something more substantive, like let's say that somebody decides to start going to church because you go to church and you invited them to church, but they never go to church on their own, or when they're not with you, they don't go. But they've started going, and then maybe they even make a profession of faith. That could be really great, although you have no guarantee that that's going to happen when you're dating. Again, let's go back to our mantra that we always say, you marry patterns, not potential. They have the potential of coming to Christ, of walking with him and formulating their own relationship, but the danger is that they do it just for you, and can you really know? That can also just be why, when you date, you don't want to rush into a commitment right away. You want to see patterns of their behavior over a period of time.

We have what we call the front porch and the back porch in relationships, right? A front porch is what everybody sees. It's your best self. It's your A game that you're showing everybody and that you're putting forth in this dating relationship. But then you also have the back porch. That's a little bit more personal, it's a little bit more vulnerable. It's almost like who you really are when people aren't looking. You know, you say your best friends are back door friends because they don't have to come to the front door, they can come in the back door. They're that close. 

So when you're dating, when you make changes right away to accommodate the other person, you just don't know, are they just putting on a good face for me, or is this a real change? You really don't know without the gift of time in that relationship. So it can be dangerous. You might always have that doubt in your mind. Is this just for me, or is this really a change? Maybe working out, because working out is really important to me, being healthy, eating well, and now suddenly the guy I'm dating is working out all the time. Well, you know, you can keep that up for a little while, you can keep those pretenses up for a little while, but at some point you're going to get really tired of pretending and trying to be fake if that's not really you. So you don't want to make a long term decision based on those short term changes.

Chris Grace: Yeah, that's good.

Alisa Grace: Patterns, not potential.

Chris Grace: Well, I think those are the yellow lights that we worry about. What happens here, I think, when there's sometimes in between the red and the yellow. So there's a scale called the Relationship Dynamics Scale, and it's a scale that's pretty cool, created probably by Scott Stanley out the University of Denver. One more time, it's called the Relationship Dynamics Scale. There's eight questions, Lise, and so I think the difference is do these things happen frequently, only just once in a while, or almost never, right?

Alisa Grace: Yeah.

Chris Grace: So if every once in a while, almost never, you have a little criticism or maybe you point something out and it's just not a regular occurrence. That's very different than it happens once in a while and/or it happens frequently.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, like if they criticize or belittle your opinions or your feelings or maybe your dreams and your hopes, that's going to be a pretty red flag.

Chris Grace: Well, yeah. Let's do that. You could actually take this survey if you want.

Alisa Grace: Let's do it.

Chris Grace: All right, so here it goes. One, equal two, ready? One is almost never or never.

Alisa Grace: That's one point.

Chris Grace: That's one point. You get two points if this happens once in a while, and you get three points if it happens frequently. 

Alisa Grace: Okay.

Chris Grace: There's eight situations.

Alisa Grace: Okay.

Chris Grace: Number one, give yourself one for never, et cetera. Ready? Little arguments escalate into ugly fights, as you mentioned, with accusations or criticisms or name calling or bringing up past hurts. If that almost never happens, you'd give yourself a one.

Alisa Grace: A one.

Chris Grace: If it frequently happens-

Alisa Grace: Once in a while, two, frequently, three.

Chris Grace: Okay.

Alisa Grace: Okay, and then number two. Number two is my partner criticizes or belittles my opinions, feelings or desires.

Chris Grace: Okay, so I've got my number down, whether it's a one, two or three. Now, you're going to have eight, so eventually you can have either, if you give yourself a one, you're going to have eight as your total.

Alisa Grace: It's going to go from eight to 24, right?.

Chris Grace: Eight to 24, right, because that was number two. Number three, my partner seems to view my words or my actions more negatively than I mean them to be. Does that happen frequently, does it happen every once in a while, or almost never? All right, so one, two or three. That was number three. My partner views my words, actions more negatively. How about number four, Alisa?

Alisa Grace: Number four is when we have a problem to solve, it's like we're on opposite teams.

Chris Grace: Ooh, yeah.

Alisa Grace: So we're on opposite sides of the fence.

Chris Grace: Yeah, especially when we're trying to solve a problem. If that almost never happens, you get a one, two if it's once in a while, three frequently. That was number four.

Alisa Grace: Okay.

Chris Grace: All right, number five, I think seriously about what it would be like to date or marry someone else.

Alisa Grace: Ooh.

Chris Grace: Okay? What would it be like to date or marry someone else? That's a one, a two or a three. Three's frequently. Now at number six.

Alisa Grace: Number six is I hold back from telling my partner what I really think and feel. You just don't feel safe or comfortable, you're afraid.

Chris Grace: Yeah, it's not emotionally safe or vulnerable, but if you don't ever feel that, you just get a one. That's a good sign. A three, it's maybe not a good sign. So that was number six, you hold back from telling your partner what you really think and feel. Lise, number seven.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, number seven. When we argue, one of us withdraws, doesn't want to talk anymore or actually leaves the scene.

Chris Grace: Yeah, so for some of you that doesn't ever happen, for some it's rather frequent and you get a three. And Lisa, number eight.

Alisa Grace: Number eight, the last one. I feel lonely in this relationship.

Chris Grace: Okay, so hopefully you have scores on eight of these and you can add them up pretty quickly and come up with a number. It's going to be a number between eight and 24. If not, your addition needs to be checked. So just, again, we could go through the eight again, or just hit rewind, probably. It might be easiest to do that.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, just hit rewind. The way you score it. Okay, if you scored between 18 and 24, then it indicates that your patterns could put you at significant risk and you better pay attention.

Chris Grace: Yeah, so green lights, Lisa, would be very low scores, right?

Alisa Grace: Right. These would be more-

Chris Grace: So an 8, 9, 10, 11, we would say, hey, you're doing well. I mean anything between eight and 12.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, that would be a green light.

Chris Grace: Yeah, because they're pretty low frequency things. These don't happen, they don't criticize me, almost never, so you're around an 8, 9, 10, 11, right? What about if you're in the 13 to maybe 17 range?

Alisa Grace: That's going to be kind of the iffy range. This would be kind of the yellow light section. This is where you really want to be cautious as you think about this relationship. While you might be happy now, this score indicates that this could be a warning sign that if you don't take care of these patterns, if there's no intervention to strengthen or improve your relationship, then this might not go well long term.

Chris Grace: Yeah, it could get worse.

Alisa Grace: Yeah.

Chris Grace: Yeah. That's where you talk about your patterns, if there's these patterns. If you're scoring, again, 8, 9, 10, 11, even 12, you're in the green phase, I think. The Relationship Dynamics Scale, I think Scott Stanley and Harold Markman would say that on this scale. You can go and look it up. 13 to 17, Lise, is that yellow. And then red. You mentioned this number. If you're up above, in the high teens and low 20s, anywhere from 18 to a high of 24, man, this is where your patterns come in, not potential, and your pattern is you've got some risk there.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, this relationship, I like that word that you used. You really are at risk and you need to stop and think about where you're headed with this relationship, because you may be heading for trouble, or more than likely, you're probably already there. 

Chris Grace: Yeah. So hopefully that helps a little bit. It's not just, you know, these ... well, it is some of the yellow things that we're dealing with that are hard or difficult. The red ones aren't that difficult, man. They're just messed up and you need to pause. But it's the one or two. So how many yellow lights can you have before you say this is bad, right?

Alisa Grace: Yeah.

Chris Grace: There's that scale, the Relationship Dynamics Scale, that gives you a good score and a judge. Sometimes you score pretty good, but there's one, maybe two yellow lights. Maybe it depends on what those yellow lights are and where they're at.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, and it could be something that, if you're in a serious dating relationship, you might want to go get some couples counseling, some pre-engagement counseling. Before you make that decision to commit life-long to each other, you probably want to go see if you can get some help figuring these things out, because if you can, that's great. Then you grow, you improve, you develop as a person, as a couple. But maybe that's when you also find out that this is just more than I really want to deal with, and I think we need to call it stops.

Chris Grace: Yeah, and you know, we have to be really careful too. Some of these yellow lights are just that, they're just differences. I remember for us, we were learning about each other. One of the things we learned early on, actually it was after we were married, is how much you love the outdoors, hiking, being on the beach, for example. I still remember thinking every time we went to the beach, and you would just say, "Let's go to the beach, let's go to the beach, let's go to the beach." You just thrive there. You walk, you sit, you read, you enjoy.

Alisa Grace: Love it.

Chris Grace: And me, I just get the sand, I feel dirty. I'm like, man, this stinks. I don't want to be on ... the water smells.

Alisa Grace: Oh, come on.

Chris Grace: You know, I swim a little. I know, but the beach, for some reason, isn't my favorite. But okay, yellow light? I guess. But one of the things that we figured out was well, do you know what? We have a difference here, and if I had a whole day, what would I do? We figured out a compromise. That was kind of cool. I love reading, and you love reading, so I just decided, well, I'll go the beach and read. You go to the beach and walk around and do other things as well.

Alisa Grace: I think the important differentiation here is the difference between preferences and things that you really need for a healthy relationship.

Chris Grace: Yeah, so give an example.

Alisa Grace: Well, like the example you gave. I prefer the beach, you prefer ... I prefer camping, you prefer the hotel. Okay, that's fine. We can do that. We can alternate. But you can't really alternate between it's okay to be belittled and be called names. That's never okay.

Chris Grace: Or a need to be emotionally safe and trusted.

Alisa Grace: Exactly, exactly.

Chris Grace: That's not a preference. Trust and safety, the things we talked about.

Alisa Grace: Yeah.

Chris Grace: Oh, good.

Alisa Grace: So it's good to think through what are things that I just want, that I prefer, versus no, these are things that I really need to be in a healthy relationship.

Chris Grace: Well, as we get ready to wrap up, we've given, I think, in the last couple of podcasts, some great advice, in my opinion, but some good advice. You know, I think if you're listening out there and you're in a dating relationship, it's going well, maybe there's some hesitancy. Sometimes people are afraid to go deeper. You have to figure that out. Sometimes counseling is really important. In fact, we're big advocates for, if you're having a hard time becoming ... intimacy is hard for you, you need to go figure that out. In fact, Lise, one of the things we tell students to engage in is pre-engagement counseling. Not just pre-marital counseling, but pre-engagement. You've been dating for a year. You like the person, everything is going great, but you just are afraid.

Alisa Grace: You have a couple of big questions.

Chris Grace: Yeah, you have a couple of big questions. We would say go get some pre-engagement counseling at that point.

Alisa Grace: And before we hang up on this one, really quick, there's one that we haven't addressed that I find comes up frequently in our counseling at the center, and that would be how should you view, what if you find out that your partner regularly views pornography, or even maybe has expressed a thought that maybe they're addicted to pornography? Can you overcome that? Should you overcome that? Should you run away? How would you process that in a dating relationship?

Chris Grace: Yeah. In a dating relationship, it's probably not a good sign if this is something that they're doing on a regular basis, and by that, whether you're male or female, you're doing this daily or you're viewing it weekly even. It's just not a good sign. You know, we have a whole podcast on the way you should deal with and process pornography. So Lise, I think it is a yellow light. It becomes red. It's almost like the infrequently, often or sometimes, or frequently. It's the same thing. I think if the person struggles with this, it's something that maybe it reappears every three or four months and they fight it and they slipped and fell, viewed pornography, immediately felt bad, shamed and confessed. I think then, at that point, it's a yellow flag or a yellow light and they're working on it. I think if they're working on it, if they're seeking help, if they're seeking to have somebody come alongside them, mentoring, then I think-

Alisa Grace: What if you're dating somebody that doesn't see it as a big deal? Hey, you know, it's so much more acceptable today in our American culture, in our world's culture, the idea of pornography, and a lot of couples counselors will even recommend it. But as believers ...

Chris Grace: Yeah. It's amazing how many people just don't find it an issue.

Alisa Grace: Yeah, so what if you're dating somebody that doesn't think it's a big deal?

Chris Grace: Again, I would say is this a person that then accepts your values and would agree to say, okay, I may not agree, but I see where you're coming from, and I can back away from this no problem. It's not an issue.

Alisa Grace: Great point.

Chris Grace: Okay, you just have a disagreement then, but they don't really view it. Now, if the person says I disagree with you, I think it's okay to do, and I'm going to participate in it, if that violates one of your moral standards, and I think it's a very Biblical standard that a believer should hold. I mean, Biblically we hold each other in high regard, and the pornography industry, the last thing it does is treat women well. In fact, it's very exploitative, it's very abusive.

Alisa Grace: Demeaning.

Chris Grace: So it's not just a casual, simple, without cost behavior that your partner or the person you're dating is engaging in. And I would say, man, if you would be able to sit there and watch that with your young children, how would they feel? If it says it would be horrible, I wouldn't like it, then you're probably in a dating relationship that shouldn't be. It is for me, it elevates to a red flag because it just violates our moral standards of what we believe is good and honorable in a marriage, and that is also lusting, treating each other well, and then God intended for that to be saved for the marital relationship. That, to me, it's just adultery that's going on when you view that.

Alisa Grace: Yeah. That's a great point. I think as we close, a book, if you're interested in reading, you want to get one to pick up for you and your boyfriend, you and your girlfriend, or maybe you're a parent whose kids are dating, they're young adults, older adults, whatever. Anyway, the book by Debra Fileta, she's a marriage and family therapist, called True Love Dates. It's a great book on a Biblical perspective of dating that we really subscribe to. We love Debra. She's been a guest on this podcast before.

Chris Grace: Yeah. Go listen to her. It's really good.

Alisa Grace: Yeah. That book, True Love Dates, would be really handy.

Chris Grace: Yeah. Well, man, I love this, Lise, because I think it's real practical for people that are looking and dating, and thinking about dating and stepping into that world, or people that have been in it for a while. 

Alisa Grace: Yeah. Okay. Well, we'll wrap up today. We are so glad you joined us. Don't forget to go on your favorite platform, give us a rating. We would love five stars. We'll look forward to seeing you back here next time.

Chris Grace: All right. Take care.

Alisa Grace: Okay. Bye-bye.

Mandy: Thanks for listening to the Art of Relationships. This podcast is only made possible through generous donations from listeners just like you. If you like it and want to help keep the podcast going, visit our website at, and make a donation today.