There is a part of us that has the desire to make a relationship work at all costs. That is natural. Some of us go to unseemly extremes when we should not that ends up hurting the one we are interested in. So here are a few things to consider when entering or involved in a relationship beyond friends with someone.
Remember we do not have to make it work. It should be natural, if there is compatibility in the essentials as well as overall chemistry.
Core compatibility (which I am a very big proponent of) is very important. Find out what handful of essentials your mate needs, and be open to share yours with them. If you have not taken the time to be very conscious of yours, you may not know how to approach this conversation with your partner. So take time to determine what things you can or cannot endure long term. Some people call these things deal-breakers. There is something about that term that I have never liked, so I choose not to use it. But know yourself, and know how to differentiate core needs that are non-negotiable with surface things that are.
Be flexible, very flexible, with what you determine to be surface compatibilities. These are not necessities, although they may be preferences or interests. Expect to have to alter some if not most, and even cut out a few or flip them upside-down to mesh well with your partner.
Do not necessarily expect much different than the whole of what you eventually see in your partner. Yes, people can and sometimes do change, even radically. But this is not very frequent, and if you are in a situation where core compatibility issues are present, your mere presence close to your mate may be the very factor that is hindering them from working on that given area–if they are even interested in making a change or even need to.
Your core compatibility areas will differ from your partners in some or many areas. They may not value something as core like you do, so that may make it easier for them to alter behavior. But do not expect it because it may become a heavy-laden circumstance of expectation, which they will kick against out of protecting themselves…and rightfully so.
Would it be a godly situation for you two to come together? Would you be uplifting and encouraging each other and your walk with God? Do you have a developing spiritual relationship together (regularity in the following, for example: prayer, bible study, intelligent discussion, church, community service volunteerism)?
Would one always be pulling the other (or leaving them aside) in the relationship? Would one always have to be stifled to try to keep from offending or pressuring the other in one or more areas while it kills the one inside? Would one feel more alone than if single because they don’t have that companionship in core areas of their life?
These are a few questions that are helpful to mediate on in or outside of a relationship. Some of them are not easy to address, especially if you find yourself in a relationship where there are serious core differences that exist, whether the troubles have begun to surface or not–especially if you have strong emotional bonding with the person, or if you struggle with being single. Be courageous and ask God for help in these areas. It is okay to admit your weakness to yourself and Him, and ask for help. You do not have to navigate relationships on your own. In fact, we were never meant to do that anyway. That is much of why God gives guidance in His word on relationships, whether talking about being equally yoked, keeping the marriage bed undefiled, guarding the heart from mental adultery, and servant-love based in mutual submission.
Ask for His oil of grace in the gears of your relationship, especially if there are core compatibility issues that need addressed. He is capable of the miraculous. Pray for the best. Be patient, because it may not happen right away. It may not happen during your time with them. And it may. But it will not be natural and lasting if it is in the vice grip of your hands. Trust Him and let Him.
Remember, your relationship ought not be based in perfect treatment. That is nothing more than a controlled business agreement. Find the person you can base an undying commitment of unconditional love in, where there is grace you are fully capable of giving to the other in their imperfections, and where they are able to do the same for you. If either one or both of you are incapable of that, you need to develop that capacity, or you will slaughter one another and the relationship will fall.