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Ready to Mingle?

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

Are you single but want to be in a relationship? In today's podcast, Dr. Chris and Alisa Grace meet with Laura Austin, the dating coach behind "Hey Mrs. Austin", to discuss how patience and proactivity work together to have a dating relationship in God's timing. Learn how to prepare yourself for dating through prayer and meeting new people, outline dating goals for what you want in a relationship, and change your mindset to be open to discerning God's will in dating!

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 Art of Relationship podcast. Alisa, it's really good to do this with you. And Mandy, thanks for the introduction-

Mandy:    Good to see you.

Chris Grace:    But it's so fun to get started. And one of the things that we get to do Alisa is just answer all kinds of questions from people and learn about them. And one of the cool things is when we get to bring in guests who also have very similar kinds of backgrounds. They do podcasts and blogs and write on things like that.

Alisa Grace:    We actually have a really special guest that we wanted to interview today, and her name is Laura Austin. How are you, Laura?

Laura Austin:    I'm great. Thank you so much for inviting me to be on the podcast today.

Chris Grace:    It's so good to have you on the podcast. And I know you must be here in Southern California, you come so highly rated. First thing we ought to say is you have a website and Instagram, and it's called, Hey Mrs Austin.

Alisa Grace:    I love that name.

Laura Austin:    Thank you.

Chris Grace:    Everybody needs to, first of all, go listen and watch some of the things they do, their Instagram is awesome. So it's Hey Mrs Austin. And so tell us about yourself. You're married to Trav and got a couple children.

Laura Austin:    Well, thank you again for having me. My name is Laura, and right now my current day job is I'm a stay-at- home with our three kids. We have a year old daughter, Savannah, a five year old son, Cade, and then a almost one and a half year old, Wesley. So, I'm home full time with them and homeschooling the oldest two.

Alisa Grace:    So, what you're saying, Laura, is that you really don't get much sleep yet.

Laura Austin:    No. They are pretty good sleepers, but during the day I really don't sit down much. So, people tell us when I describe our life, they're like, you guys are really in the thick of it. And I'm like, yes, I sense that thickness. Yes. But we love it. We're so grateful for it. So, but I've also am a dating coach. And so it's right now, just a bit of a side business that I could see growing in the future, but just because of my own story and the way I like to learn and then teach other people things. I have a teaching background has led to me writing about dating and getting married and helping women feel hopeful in their dating lives and with their desire to get married someday.

Chris Grace:    So, Laura, what's your connection? So, here's how we are originally made aware of you is one of our assistants in our Center for Marriage and Relationships, Viola, said, "You have to have Laura on. She's awesome. We love, Hey Ms Austin," but it sounds like you might have more connections to Viola than that.

Laura Austin:    Yes. I went to Viola, well, Chris, I figured out I was in your Psych 101 class, and it was my freshman year, and it was 23 years ago. So, I went into college when I was five.

Chris Grace:    I was going to say, I was only at least 15 when I started lecturing.

Laura Austin:    It's remarkable. But I think your kids may have been the age of my kids because I remember you sharing a lot of stories about them, which was just made it so real to learn about these psychological principles, and you were seeing them work out in your family. And then one of your daughters knows my sister really well, my sister's Debbie Wyatt, and she works has been in RD with Viola, and then now works in student services. So, lots, we just love Viola. We're so grateful for it. It was a pivotal place in my development, and obviously led to my career and friendships and where I go to church now, all sorts of things. So, that's my connection to Viola.

Alisa Grace:    So, you're still living here in Southern California?

Laura Austin:    Yes. We live in Fullerton, right really close to downtown Fullerton. My husband and I were able to purchase one of the little Craftsman houses and have redone it completely and have had so much fun with that. So, it's been a busy... We've been married nine years, so we'll be our 10 anniversary is next June.

Chris Grace:    So, that's so cool. Well, Hey, Mrs. Austin, what does it mean for you to start this? You are so passionate about helping people date well and why? What motivates you to do that? What started that?

Laura Austin:    So, well, my own dating story starts really long before I actually met Travis, which I hope encourages some people listening that really my message is that if you desire to get married down the road, there are things you can actually do today to move towards that desire and to set goals, to actually make that decision down the road. And so for me, what that looked like is I was living, by God's grace had just started living life, even though I didn't get married, I would've loved to get married right after college. I deeply desired to be a wife and mother, but in God's plan that didn't happen. I didn't meet someone in college and just continued to live a single life, but really jumped in, started to create a home that I loved, build community, jumped into church. I was a elementary school teacher and had a really rewarding career, but I still just had this deep sadness that I wasn't in a relationship and wasn't married and moving toward having a family.

    And then a friend of mine, a work colleague, actually, she heard Henry Cloud on the radio, and he was talking about his new book called How to Get a Date Worth Keeping. And I was about 27, 28 at the time. And so she bought me that book and gave it to me. And I'd heard about it from a friend in my small group, but he was someone that dated. And so when I heard him talking about it, I thought, well, why would I read that book? I don't get asked out, I don't date, so I don't really, I'm not going to read that book. But I was very intrigued by it. So, she gives me the book. She's like here it is. So, I can't really avoid it at that point. So, I read through it so quickly and very, that was really the catalyst to me recognizing that I have agency in this part of my life, and I'm actually, I want to steward this relationship part of my life.

    Well, and I really noticed that in other parts of my life, I saw very clearly how God's provision and my actions work together. He works through the things that we do. I wanted to be a good teacher, so I worked hard to get into college, worked hard in college, got a degree. I worked hard as a teacher and in my career to be successful at that and to love my students well and teach well. I wanted to be a good friend. So, I lived in ways that made me a good friend. I wanted to be hospitable. So, I created a home and invited people over. And so then to look at my dating life and realize, I would like to be in a relationship, I'm not getting asked out, and to me, that just was like, that means I'm stuck. The only thing that starts your dating life is getting asked out.

    Well, Dr. Cloud's book really opened my eyes to that there were a lot of mistaken thinking there. And so I ended up seeing there are other things I can do to start to meet new people, to want to move toward this desire to get married. So through that, I ended up reading a lot of other dating books about marriage. It really affected a lot of my theological thinking of this area and how God's will works, how his wisdom works. So, I tend to be a researcher and a reader. I'm an external processor. So, I talk about it with all my friends. So, it led to a lot of conversations. So, my dating coaching started then even with other friends, even as I was still needing coaching myself and then led to just through the process of me meeting Travis, just lots of different seeing the way the Lord worked things out, I ended up writing that story down on my blog, and people were really just drawn to it and wanting to hear it.

    And so then by the time I was casually coaching friends and then a friend of a friend would introduce me to someone. And then by the time I was meeting with and talking with a friend of a friend of a friend, I was like, I think this might be when you charge someone. So that was where this ministry and then eventual business came about. So, I still write about it on Instagram. That's my ideal client is really in the 20's to early 30's age range. But I also have found that people outside of those ranges really connect with what I'm saying. And even men as well, even though I typically speak to women.

    But I think when you're starting to look at trying to see how God's wisdom applies to this part of our lives, you start to note being able to then discern, okay, how do I interpret this for my particular circumstances? People are able to do that as I'm talking. So anyhow, Instagram is still where I post a lot, but now I'm trying to take my work and turn it into a book. But also I'm in this little kid phase, and so I've decided to blog my way through my book. My first few posts are up. Just trying to gather things into a little bit more of a linear form. So that's where I'm at, and that's how I got started.

Chris Grace:    Well, Mrs. Austin, or Laura, for you when you start to look at the people around you, is this common? Is this becoming more common? We talk about how it's easy to meet other people now online versus in person. But I guess were at the beginning of that, but is it getting worse? Is it harder for young people to meet if they don't meet that person in college? What do you think? Is this becoming a challenge and the theme for modern dating?

Laura Austin:    I think so for sure. I think partly because there's a lot of different factors. So, I think really, even as I talk right now, I would hope that people would recognize there isn't one particular answer to dating questions. I think that one person might say really something I start with when I work with someone is to hear a little bit of their past. Just to know tell me about your dating history and about your family of origin and how was dating viewed in your family because each person's situation really is unique. And so to be able to look at your particular circumstances.

    So I do see a trend though, where a lot of I think it's a combination of having our separate lives and we get comfortable into our we know the same people that we know, and we want to see those people. But then also it's a lot of just going to the friend zone was my issue. So friendships, it really is good to develop friendship when you're dating, and yet, if you're not clearly communicating that this is a date, or I would like to get to know you more in this particular way. So, I think that's, I do see it as a pattern that people are wanting to... I work with and know a lot of women that would desire to be married, but are not getting asked out. So, I do think it's something that's happening.

Alisa Grace:    Well, so Laura, you mentioned that you said that you were 32 when you and Trav got married.

Laura Austin:    I got married. Yeah.

Alisa Grace:    So, tell us a little bit about that story, about how you and Trav met. Tell us your love story.

Laura Austin:    So, I love telling our story. Let's see, where should I start? So, I was doing the thing, I've really followed, Dr. Cloud has he calls it The Program in his book, which you laugh about, and then you're like, and it basically changed my life. So, all laughs aside. So, I was working his program and really trying to meet a lot of new people, try different things, really trying to do the internal work of paying attention to my thought life, and what sort of mindsets were keeping me from maybe dating well. And then also just making some practical, external changes to like, I'm only involved in women's ministry and children's ministry at church. I'm not, and then I'm an elementary school teacher. That's none of those things are helping me meet single men.

    And so they were good things, but they might, I maybe needed to set them aside for a different season so that I could be putting myself in the place where I would meet new men. And that was the real internal thing that was different. I used to judge girls that did that, like, I'm more spiritual because I'm waiting on the Lord. Or I'm not going to go to a party just to meet men, who would do that? And now, then it suddenly, it was like, I should go to a party to meet men, that's a good idea. So, it was a real, I even spoken myself of old Laura and new Laura. So, I was doing that. I had a bit of a blip. I'd call it a bigger blip when I turned 30.

    And that was really where a lot of the spiritual change happened, because my 30th birthday hit me where I realized that I began to treat my relationship with God like a business transaction. Because it felt like, okay Lord, now I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, and you're going to come through, provide a boyfriend and then a husband. And I hadn't ever verbalized it, but I wanted it to happen by the time I was 30. Surely it will happen by then. I've been being proactive for the last couple years, and then it didn't happen by then. And so it was a real marker of just a real sadness that seeped in. I was having a lot of trouble feeling thankful for my 20's, and I had an amazing, my 20's were wonderful, as I mentioned some of the things before. And I didn't even want to look back on pictures or trips I'd taken, things like that.

    And so that I did seek out therapy at that point. And even calling about a therapist for that was part of my process to... The intake person's like, "Hi, why are you seeking a therapist?" And I said, "Well, I just turned 30, and I'm not married. And I'm really sad about it." And it was like, even having to say that out loud felt so vulnerable. And yet that was so good for me to acknowledge that. So, my therapy was really a helpful tool for me. She helped me learn to grieve that I would never get married in my 20's, which is a very normal desire. If you are out there, someone listening and you would like to be married and begin having a family, that's so normal and good. That is a good desire. And so to have someone say that to me, that those desires were reasonable, and that it's okay to be sad that it hadn't happened, that was really helpful.

    And so anyway, through that process, then as it turned out, even in that year, that was full of a lot of sadness and grief. I actually met Travis that year because he was matched on eharmony with my current roommate, my roommate at the time, not my current roommate. Travis is my current roommate. My roommate at the time. So, she got matched with him on, on eharmony, and she showed me his profile was like, because he seemed so normal. And she liked that he was tall. So, and we were trying to help each other doing the online thing. We were helping each other out. So, she shows me his profile. We realized somebody, you can tell like, oh he is from Fullerton, but where exactly?

    So, they quickly figured out as they messaged that they had a few mutual friends because he went to EvFree Fullerton. We were at Grace EvFree, so churches that are about 20 minutes away. So, you can have mutual friends. So they were taking too long to get to a date. And so I was on the Hey no one's getting any younger around here. So, I set up a dinner party with those mutual friends that we all knew. Of course I ended up being the fifth wheel at that party. I thought some other people were coming. But it was the couple that was hosting, Trav and Carissa, and me. So anyway, but we met and I instantly had like, he's really cool. He's also really cute. He's here to meet my friend, what do I do?

    And the Lord, even in those moments helped me like, just have a good time. You don't need to stress. And they ended up going out once that week and nothing came from it afterwards. And she and I talked a few weeks later because I was crushing on him. I can't stop thinking about this guy, and I met him once. I do not do this. Before I was a real slow to crush on someone. So, so strange I couldn't stop thinking about it. And she just, this is what I mean by seeking wisdom, is praying and saying, "Lord, I can't stop thinking about this guy, but I love my friend. What do I do?" And just Him helping me see, which relationship is more important to you right now? This crush that you barely know? This guy or your dear friend?

    And I was like, my dear friend, I should talk to her. So, I brought it up even though it felt super awkward. I was like, you know that guy you went out with a few weeks ago. I think I like him. And she was like, you want to like him? Go ahead and like him. She was so gracious because she was doing good work and being healthy dating and casual dating at the start. She hadn't put too much into meeting him. So anyway, it was still just, if you're worried about her, she met her future husband just a few weeks later after that, through me, through my.... We all hung out, and so they got married a year later. Trav went as my date to that wedding. So, it's all good.

Alisa Grace:    So, how did you and Travis actually connect at that point?

Laura Austin:    So, fast forward, we were on friends on Facebook and I thought, maybe he thought I was interesting too. Mind you the day after he adds me on Facebook, his post is like, "Hey guys, I'm almost to 1,000 followers. Let me know if I can add anyone." And I was like, I'm like a filler Facebook friend. Anyway, don't judge a guy just by his social media on the first look. Anyway so this was not for probably six months later. I thought I would see him at an event, a couple of events, and I didn't. And so it was one of those, I just need to move on, this is not happening. He could find me if he was interested situation.

    Well then he's, I was praying again a few months later, this was this following spring. That was the fall. This was the following spring. And he kept coming to mind and I thought, look, what am I going to do here? This is silly. So, I thought I could talk to our mutual friend and say, "Would you set us up?" But then again with the not getting any younger, I was like, well just go straight to the source. So, I decided to send him a Facebook message. And Trav describes it as it's like I asked him out, but I didn't. I basically said, Hey, I realize we, I enjoyed talking to you, but we never really get to hang out because we don't see each other. If you ever want to grab coffee, let me know. And so I, it suggested the idea of a date, but I didn't necessarily say, "Will you go out with me next Saturday" thing.

    So, he messaged a bit back in then and then he dropped the ball. He's a little, I joke now, after us talking so much about dating, he says now he'd be a much better dater now than he was back then. And I'm like, that's all right, you can just practice that on me. Long story short, we ended up, I had again moved on because he hadn't asked me out. And at that point I'd realized I am a person of value, and if someone doesn't want to ask me out right away, I'm going to move on and find someone who would like to go out with me. So, it put him on the back burner, but then we ended up seeing each other at a couple different events that our friends through.

    And so just the way the Lord worked things out. Mind you, I had moved on, but Travis had not. In his mind, this is again how men and women think differently, timing wise and things, he was just still like, well I'll ask her out eventually, but the timing's not great right now, I have this work thing. Mind you it's been a month and a half. And I'm like, I sent that message, I'm moving on. But anyway, we ended up going on a cabin trip together with some friends and totally clicked. He asked me out the day we got back, and seven months later we were engaged. So, it was one of those stories of really slow start, and then once it got going, it was real quick.

Alisa Grace:    That's fun. That's fun.

Laura Austin:    Yes. So, that's how we met.

Chris Grace:    And there's even more, I know, on your website too, about the details about how y'all met. And so for any listeners out there, go check this out, and some of you are following maybe her on Instagram, and you could just see some of this as well as on her website. So, when you start thinking about all of the ways and now the life that you've been given in this sense, it seems like there's a lot of preparation that was happening in your 20's that now has come into play so much for you. Where you're able to go with this, and it seems like a lot of people or question, God, what are you doing? How could you? But there doesn't seem to be a lot of wasted opportunities with the Lord does there? Especially in your life.

Laura Austin:    He uses everything, yes, for sure. It's really, it's beautiful because I think to continue to see that I trust God's plan. I wouldn't change anything because I don't want different kids, I don't want different, we're so grateful for where we're at. And yet there also is a space there to also recognize that there's pain and there's, I can look back. Trav and I have moments where we're like, wouldn't it be fun to have known each other in our 20's? We missed out on getting to grow up together a little bit. And yet we also look back and we see that we, neither of us, we would've totally missed each other. We would not have gone out. We weren't at the right place. So, to trust the timing there is good while also recognizing that it comes with pain and having to be patient, which is hard.

Alisa Grace:    That's a great point. That's a great point. Especially, let me ask you this, Laura. You mentioned before about learning to discern God's will in dating. So, what does that look like? How do you coach clients that come to you that want to talk that God is important to them and leading a life that is sensitive and inquisitive about God's will. What does that look like on a practical level?

Laura Austin:    That's a great question. I talk a lot about setting dating goals, which I think is a pretty new concept for a lot of people.

Alisa Grace:    Give us an example of that.

Laura Austin:    Sure, sure. So, the reason I say that is because I consider getting married as a decision that you're going to make, and I would say it's the second biggest decision you'll make. The first is who do you say that Jesus Christ is? And then secondly, who you choose to spend your life with? Whether that's choosing to be single or choosing to get married, and then who you would marry. And so it's a decision. And so sometimes people just break that down into these really big decisions. You've gotten married, you decided to get engaged. You decided to be in a relationship with someone, and you said yes to a date. It's like, those are four decisions. To me, that's those are still huge decisions.

    So, why not break it down even smaller? And so I think as far as dating goals go, really honestly, prayer can be one of your first goals. Because really I had stopped praying about my dating life because it hurt too much. And so to say, okay Lord, I want to pray again. I was praying about other things, but not praying about something that's so near and dear to you really affects how you have faith for other things. So, being willing to, if I was talking to someone right now who really wasn't dating at all but would like to be, I would say, just decide to pray this week, Lord, I'm going to each day just say, Lord, would you help my dating life? Maybe that's all you have in you to say.

    And then I would say, start to gather people around you that could be on your team as you date. Because dating can feel really lonely. You're trying to figure this thing out. You're meeting a lot of new people. And so you want to invite your team to gather around you. There's so many good reasons to do that. It reminds you that you're already loved and cared for. They help you vet people. They, if you start going off the deep end or what have you, they're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, let's remind you what you're going. So, even starting to pray, talk to one or two friends this week about, I listened to this podcast and this girl said that maybe I could get married if I started trying some things. What do you think? Talk to that friend say, would you pray for me as I start to figure this out?

    I wrote down a prayer in my journal after I read Dr. Cloud's book that just said, Lord, I want to work on my dating life. Will you help me? Like that was just my simple hearts prayer. And then another simple goal would be to try to meet someone new this week. Because if you really stop and ask yourself how many new people do I meet in a week? Figure out what that number is. Maybe you have a job where you meet a lot of new people. What's that number? Are they Christians? Are they not Christians? Maybe you're really involved at your church in a way that, you're an usher, a greeter, so you meet a ton of new people. Or maybe you're in a routine where I only see the same people every week after week. And so that just look at that number. So, that's a goal that's to stop and say, I have to stop and reflect how many new people have I met.

    Because really what it comes down to, when I break down this big decision of getting married, breaking it down to it's really comes down to meeting new people. That is square one that you constantly come back to whether you've dated someone and broken up and you've given yourself time to recover from that. And you're coming back to then, am I going to date someone I already know? And if not, I need to meet new people. And so that's where some people choose to let God be the one that brings those opportunities to meet new people into their life. But I would say that you could, which I think he does. I see God bringing Trav into my life. That is the Lord's provision there.

    And yet I also see him having worked through me, having worked on helped me grow in certain ways so that I was more open, I was more flirtatious, playful, just my fun self when I met him that led to us being able to have a conversation. The spirit was working through those things. So, and I do think breaking down dating and marriage into these smaller decisions helps because a lot of times clarity and discernment grows through action. So, if we just try to think about things, it's hard to know what's best. But if you're like, should I get to know this guy? Well, go on a date, and get to know him. It doesn't mean you're getting married. It doesn't mean he's going to be your boyfriend. Just go spend an hour talking to someone. That action and having a conversation will bring clarity of whether or not you can move forward with a second date.

    I really break it down. A lot of the women I follow say that I have a phrase, "Do you want to hang out with him one more time?" That's all you have to ask yourself on this date. That phrases gets you really far down the road because it can feel so we think too far down the road. Because you do need to think down the road, you also don't want to be spending a lot of your time and giving affection to someone who is not worthy of your heart. So, it's this strange thing where we want to think deeply about this, and yet when we overthink it, we end up stuck. And so that's what I mean by setting goals that you can swallow and not freak out about.

Alisa Grace:    Laura, what you were just talking about saying, do I want to spend more time with this person? So, let's say that you've had one or two dates with somebody and you've enjoyed visiting with them, but you've asked yourself that question and the answer is, not so much. They're nice, but it's just not a good match. They're great. I'm great. We're just not a good match. So, how do you communicate that to the other person?

Laura Austin:    So, I think that is a hard place to be. I would say, just to back up a little bit, you said that in this situation, it's a no. I tend what my advice is, if it's still a maybe, I like to treat maybes as a yes or I recommend treating a maybe as a go on another day until it's a for sure no you're saying. As far as dates go at the beginning, if you're choosing to be in a relationship, I think you should treat a maybe as a maybe until you're really sure that you want to be exclusive with someone. So, I do like to draw out that early phase a little bit. I think a lot of people can speed it up too much. But in the scenario you're bringing up, I really think just being honest and keeping it simple. You don't need to have this laundry list of all the good things about the person, but I don't want to go out anymore.

    Really just rip the bandaid off and just say, thank you so much. I've been really enjoyed getting to know you, but I don't want to continue going out, but I wish you the best on your search. Keep it simple, and that could be sending a message. It could be in person if they've asked you out for a third date and you just have to say, no. I really think there's a difference between, we feel like we really hurting someone in the moment by saying that, but you're freeing them up to go find someone who really wants to be with them. So, I think to realize this is awkward, and I need to get more comfortable with awkward conversations and just know it's going to be over. It'll be real quick. You move on and you free them up to go.

    And it could be if you develop friendship, I think that that can be what's so good about keeping dates casual and also holding off on physical affection until you're in an exclusive relationship is my advice, although people can disagree with that. But really keeping that casual allows you to be friends. And so if it's someone from church or even someone you've met that you're like, you have a cool friend group, because you both are also still trying to expand your circles of people you know. So, this is where this is dating 2.0. People that are just dipping their toes in, you're not doing this. But once you've been casually dating a bit, there can be a place where you meet someone and you're like, this guy's great. He should totally meet my friend. And.

    And maybe it's not in that moment, there's discernment for each situation, but it might be sending a message down the road or you realize like, I don't see us going out one-on-one, but I have enjoyed you. And I thought maybe you'd want to go to the movie that all my friends are going to later this weekend. There's a place there. And that guy might say no, that might be too awkward again. I'm not saying this happens every time. But I think there's a way for dating to be encouraging to both people, even if it's not working I think we're dating as Christians. And so what does that look like to be an encouragement to someone? Even if you're saying no, even if you're rejecting, which is what it is, but there's a way for that person to walk away better off, even though it wasn't a good fit just by being kind and being honest. So, I really think keeping it simple, being clear and saying it as soon as you're aware of how you're feeling it.

Chris Grace:    And hat's such good advice. It sounds like you got a lot from also Henry Cloud and his book, and I bet you also got a lot from maybe your undergraduate experience. Is there any one class in particular that really-

Laura Austin:    That Psych 101 man really set me on the right path.

Chris Grace:    I remember you before at the beginning of the semester and then afterwards I thought, she has transformed and she's going to do something, she's gained the wisdom. So you do-

Laura Austin:    I love it.

Chris Grace:    You do gain the wisdom in time. Right. But, so here's my question. I always feel like sometimes we're fighting against trying to learn, not just the new culture, but the new lingo and the new way students are doing this and I'm around 18 to 19 year olds and they're doing things and they're dating in ways. And if you send a text and it's not answered in five seconds, it means this. But if it's answered two minutes later, it means that. And you would never slide into their direct messaging into somebody without doing that. And I'm always constantly like, wait, what are the rules? So, what's the rule, what's going on in modern dating? And I would put us in that category. You've been married a while now. Do you ever feel out of touch? And how do you stay in touch with what's going? And what is going on with modern dating?

Laura Austin:    That's a really good point. I had decided I would get a lot of messages asking like, hey, do you have a dating app that you recommend or that you think is the best kind of thing? And at the beginning I was like, I did use dating apps so I could give some advice. But then it got to a point where there were so many that I couldn't keep up with it like you're saying. And I realized that that decision is it's nice that someone's asking me. That's fine, I can give some opinions. But really the advice I would start to give back is that it's actually their job, that girl's job, to go figure out which one she likes the best. So, I realized I can't be keeping up on everything.

    And I think someone who's currently dating does not need to know all the things. Try to stick with what's actually happening in your life. And so if in your mind, you're like, well, I can't date. It's too confusing. I'm like, well, let's break it down. It doesn't have to be confusing. If the Instagram direct message thing that confuses you, don't use that route right now. Let's try something else. So, realizing that all these ways to meet people, these are tools, and you are actually the boss of those things. So, you're in charge of them. You get to be in charge of notifications, who you get matched with, which ones you use. So, I really recommend as far as dating apps go or different things, try something, see if it works for you, your personality, what your goals are.

    And then if you don't like it, look, you can move on to something else. And really starting to see this redefining what successful dating is so that you're not constantly feeling like a failure. I've learned a lot from Travis because he's, well in lots of ways, but he is a business owner and he's an entrepreneur at heart. And I think in that world, failure is not something that gets you down. It's really just information that helps you move forward. And so I think when you're, especially now as believers, that we have God with us, that Jesus has saved us, and He loves us so much, and He's with us and for us. And so to know that He hears our prayers and that He's going to guide us in the midst of all these crazy ways to communicate.

    I really think just trying to remind yourself, my goal here is to meet someone. I don't need to worry did I send the message at the right time? Or da, da, da, da. It's like, well, you have the tool then, if there's a miscommunication, there's the tool of clarifying and using words to talk about things. I think that really trying to use, learn about clear communication, which I think your podcast does such a great job of giving people those tools, because we need that. There's so much that's going on. We're thinking about things or it's happening online or what have you, instead of recognize, I can communicate our way through this. I don't need to feel awkward or feel like I can't bring that something up. And that's another huge thing that I talk to women about is I really encourage women if they're wondering something or they have a question about something to go ahead and just talk to the guy and bring it up.

    That was a huge, Trav loved that about me very early on that I... we were at a party and two different friends came up and said, "Hey, I heard you and Trav had a DTR." And I was like, I don't know what they're talking about. So, guess what I did on the drive home? I said, "Hey, Trav, did we have a DTR I didn't know about?" That's defined the relationship. A conversation about where things are at. And he was like, I don't... And we had mentioned, we figured out what it was, but I just decided a guy cannot read my mind. And so I don't need to wait around for him to figure out what I'm wanting. A friend of mine who I bounce a lot of ideas off of, she was the first person that hired me as a coach.

    She ended up getting married and this quote that she had was this. "We sometimes are a little bit obsessed with, or we think it's better if a guy just knows what we want rather than looking, really honoring a man who hears our direct requests and is willing to help us with that." That's a really good communicator. Let's go for that guy. Instead of this, I don't actually know the guy who just can know what a woman wants right away. I'm like, I don't know about that. So, looking for a guy who hears what you're saying, and you're not giving ultimatums or demanding things, you're just saying, Hey, what if we tried this or what if we did this and being able to talk with the man about it.

    I think really that's the best way to navigate these various situations that you're bringing up that can feel like a lot. So, to really focus on your own situation, what's in front of you, and try to just chill out about the beginning a bit. Because I think maybe sometimes the drama can seem a little fun but really that doesn't actually move you forward in your dating life much.

Alisa Grace:    That's a great, great point. I love that. You said something a while ago too, Laura, that I wanted to touch base on that I really, really loved. That you talked about that willingness that if you're going out with somebody and you're like, this isn't really working that you're willing to say, but I think it would be really great for you to meet my friend. So, those of us that we have single friends, whether we're single or married, but we also have single friends. What are some tips for how we can support them? How can we come alongside them in this dating journey part of their life?

Laura Austin:    Yes, that's wonderful that you're asking that question. There are a lot of ways. So, I think first of all, just like you said, if you know someone, a single friend who wants to be married, that's your first step there. I'm passionate about Christians recognizing that singleness and marriage are both God-honoring ways to live life, that the Bible holds very high views of both. And so I think one way practically that we show that is we don't assume that everyone who's single wants to be married. So, I even when I'm writing, I don't actually say single women, I say women who want to be married. So, obviously you would just assume and hope that they're single, but just like recognizing, I'm looking I'm talking to people who desire marriage and would like to move toward that.

    So, I think that's a first place to start is if you have single people in your small group or in your life, just checking in with them like, hey, would you like to be dating or married? Maybe that topic had not come up for me. I was just living my life, and I was giving out the vibe of don't even touch this topic for me. My friends didn't. But I would talk to my single girlfriends about a crush I had or how singleness was hard, but we didn't talk about what I could be doing or how it was going. And so I really think my married friends or friends in my church community, they just knew like, that we don't bring that up with Laura. And so I think being a friend that's willing to...

    My friend that gave me Dr. Cloud's book, she noticed I just I know that you would like to be a wife and mother, and so I got you this book. What a sweet kind thing for her to do for me. So, I think taking a risk sometimes and bringing something up like that, and then continuing to check in with them. So, if they're trying dating, asking them, how can I support you? I think that's really the best way. Would it help if you got to talk about some of your online matches so it doesn't feel just all online? Or do you want to come over here after that coffee date you had so you can debrief? Really as much as I enjoy being a coach and having this side business, my desire is that people in the church would see that if you're discipling someone who would like to get married, dating coaching is part of that discipleship.

    Because really my heart breaks, and I saw in myself that I felt God had forgotten me. I felt He wasn't hearing my prayers anymore. And that was really hard. And I needed people to come alongside me and say, He's for you. Remember He laid down his life for you. Let me remind you of the gospel, and also let me pray for your dating life and ask the Lord to provide a spouse for you. That was hugely vulnerable for me. I was in my small group at church probably almost five years, and I had never once asked for prayer about my dating life. Not once. I prayed about my career. I prayed about students that were struggling. All of that. I never brought up the deepest desire of my heart.

    So, if you have a single person in your life and you just said, would you like to be married? Can I pray for that? I think that, that, and then listen, ask, how could I support you? And then something else I'm really passionate about is facilitating setups and introducing single people.

Alisa Grace:    And you have something don't you called Setup Saturday?

Laura Austin:    Yes. So, it was just a little alliteration to help us remember. But on the second Saturday of the month, I just, I don't post every month on it, but I try each month to pop on InstaStories and say, hey, it's set up Saturday. So, it means nothing except it's just to remind us to consider setting up people that we might know. And so for I think single and married people can set up other people. And then for someone who's single, I really see the single person who would like to be married, I see that person in the driver's seat of a setup.

    I think that's a healthy way to go about it instead of thinking, I want setups to happen. It's my friend's to introduce me to someone instead seeing, who do I know that I can ask that might set me up with someone and seeking out do you know anyone? And because seeing that, yourself in the driver's seat of that setup. But then if you are the person wanting to set someone up, I think really, trying to stay calm so you're not trying to in introduce someone to their spouse that is too much pressure. You're just trying to introduce two people that don't know each other. And I know some people have had bad experiences where they're like, I had a setup and it wasn't great because like the only thing we had in common was that we're single. And to me, I want to push back a little bit on that and be like, really the only thing you had. I want to see dates as an opportunity to get to know new people. There are so many interesting people in the world.

    So, even if this person is not someone you're going to end up in a relationship with, that's not a waste of time. Find there's things to talk about. So, I think and to still see like, that setup didn't grow great. Maybe it was a bad experience. That's fine. But how nice that your friend was still willing to introduce you? Some people, I think just that it's that dead end mentality that, had this setup and it didn't work. So, setups don't work for me. And it's like, well that was one. Have 20 of those, and then we can talk. Really upping your numbers so that I'm trying to find the one person to spend my life with, to build a home with, to build a family with. I'm going to want to interview a lot of people for this position, not just have it like magically happen.

    So anyhow, with back to set ups. I really think taking the pressure off, you're just trying to meet someone new, asking the person who's doing this, who you are setting up, how do you like to go about this? Would you just like their number? Would you like to both be invited to a party and you could meet at our house there's other people? Would you like me to tell the guy first, would you like it.. Just asking them and working on it together. And that in itself is such a gift because dating can feel really lonely. And so to get to work with someone, you just walk away like, oh my gosh, I feel so cared for that someone did this. And I really recommend if you've talked to a friend about a setup, to really check in with them. I talk about dating often, and still I can forget. That's why I even did Set-up Saturday. I have it in my phone as a recurring event because I need that reminder.

    And so even for someone to say, hey, you mentioned you were going to check with that coworker's brother, did you have a chance to talk to him? So, it's light and breezy. You're not like, I feel so dumb talking to my friend about this set up. You're like, no, I feel comfortable with the fact that I'd like to get married. I need to meet new people, so I'm checking in with that friend. I'm sending her a text or like, hey, did you ever hear from that guy? Is he into it? Oh, he is not. Okay. And you move on. And maybe you're sad about it, that it didn't work out, but it's not crushing you because you know you also have other options. So anyway, that was a lot there. But does that give you an idea there.

Alisa Grace:    That was perfect. I love the idea of Set-up Saturdays. In fact, it starts getting my wheels going thinking about a couple of single people that are in our circles and makes me start going, hmm, I wonder.

Laura Austin:    And you just asking if they're interested. And some people want to know a lot about the purpose person, some people want to just go on the date or just start emailing or messaging them. That's back to the individual. How would they like to see it happen? That is a big thing. I want each person that's dating to figure out how do they like to date and be able to communicate that to people in their life. Whether it's people that are coming around them on their team or it's people that you're going out with. It's okay to tell someone how you like to date. And so for someone who hasn't dated, that's where sometimes you have to go on some dates or try some things. Try the setup where you just give the guy your number, and then you realize, that took him forever to get back to me. Next time I'm just going to call him. You start to realize what works well for you and how you want to proceed.

Alisa Grace:    I love that. I love that.

Chris Grace:    I do too. Well, let me ask, and we're probably getting to the end of our time, but there's just some things that you're doing now that I think would be awesome for you to talk about. And so what is next? What are you working on now? And I know you're a writer, and you're probably working on a dating book. Is that correct?

Laura Austin:    Yes.

Chris Grace:    Tell us about them.

Laura Austin:    I'm blogging my way through my book., And so you can find different posts on my blog, And then on Instagram I use InstaStories quite a bit just to do some coaching. I have some IGTV video up there that just some different topics that you might find interesting. So is where you can find me or same handle on Instagram. And I love getting to meet people, and you can send me a direct message. I love to interact with people there and just to chat and to try to encourage people as they're dating.

Chris Grace:    So, that book, what's your plan for it? Is it going to come in?

Laura Austin:    Well, we shall see, as I stutter across myself. I would like to self-publish it. At this point, I'm not interested in working for a publisher right now. Who knows down the road? But so my goal is to blog my way through it, and then self-publish it, just as a way to have all of my story. My actual dating story, like you mentioned, is on my blog. So, if someone wants to go to my about page, they can. If you still need a narrative of an encouraging story, go check that out. But I would like to gather my work into one place, because Instagram, it gets lost in the interwebs.

    So that's my plan. I don't have a timeline. We shall see as I keep working. Honestly, I'm applying a lot of the things that I learned in my dating life to my writing life because it's a big goal, and I'm needing to break it down into smaller goals. And praying asking the Lord for help, like, Lord, what's the next little step I can be faithful in and trust that you will guide me, and that You'll help me pivot if I need to change course, if this isn't the right thing. He's so faithful to listen, to hear us and to help us.

Alisa Grace:    I love that.

Chris Grace:    Boy, isn't that true? Just even looking briefly at your website, I know so many of the people that you have a picture of you guys sitting around looks like on the 4th of July. I think every one of them looked like people that I'm friends with or knew back when they were here.

Alisa Grace:    They were in your class.

Laura Austin:    I Love that.

Chris Grace:    They're in my class. In fact, one of them was a quarterback of my football team when I separated my shoulder. And I'll let you figure out who that was. And I blame him. It was the end of career and I just, he threw the ball-

Alisa Grace:    Your intramural career?

Chris Grace:    It was. I-

Laura Austin:    I think I remember this story. I think you might need to have a good communication, talk that out with him.

Chris Grace:    We do need to talk it out because if the pass would've hit me where it was supposed to. I still caught it, and it was an amazing catch. I just went back and I said, I'm not going to say his name.

Alisa Grace:    He got more injuries playing intramural football. Oh my God.

Laura Austin:    I love it.

Alisa Grace:    I think we counted them up one time, and there were 16 major injuries.

Chris Grace:    And so-

Laura Austin:    I was on a team. I did one year of it, and I was like, I impressed my kids saying I played football for in college. This flag football. We went to brunch afterwards in the caf-

Alisa Grace:    Brunch.

Chris Grace:    Brunch, that's so funny. Well, Laura, thank you so much for spending time. And I know you got little Wes at home who's just a year old, and he is probably wondering where's Mom right now. And Kate hanging out with dad.

Laura Austin:    I'm sure. Yes. And they'll be excited to see me. But thank you so much for having me on today.

Chris Grace:    Well, thanks for taking the time.

Laura Austin:    It was a joy.

Chris Grace:    It was awesome. It was such a joy to hear your story and to hear what you're doing.

Alisa Grace:    So much wisdom and intentionality about dating, and people really, really need that. So, Laura, thank you for what you're doing.

Laura Austin:    You're so welcome.

Alisa Grace:    We are going to be looking forward. You let us know when that book comes out. And if people want to get in contact with you about the dating coaching, how would they get in contact with you?

Laura Austin:    So, they can email me at Hey Mrs.

Alisa Grace:

Chris Grace:    Probably no comma in there. I would imagine so..

Laura Austin:    No, no comma in there, but there's also a contact forum on my blog too.

Chris Grace:    You'll get it there?

Laura Austin:    Yeah. So, that's another good spot.

Chris Grace:    Well, Laura, thank you for joining us. It was fun to have you.

Laura Austin:    So good to chat with you.

Chris Grace:    Say hello to Travis and everyone else out there.

Laura Austin:    Thank you so much, guys. I'll talk to you later.

Chris Grace:    Bye-bye.

Alisa Grace:    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.