By Liz Kanoy, Crosswalk.com
It’s easy when you’re dating someone to get caught up in the emotions of the relationship. It’s new, exciting, and usually full of hope. So, it can be quite difficult to bring your head back down from the clouds and look realistically at the relationship.
If you see something that needs work, or realize something’s missing, it doesn’t mean you need to call it quits. It does mean you need to communicate. One thing that should be present in any healthy dating relationship, is that you are pursued by the person you’re dating—and you should be pursuing them. If the person you’re dating isn’t pursuing you, find out why. The answer may save you a lot of time and heartache.
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What does it mean to be pursued in a relationship?
To be pursued in a healthy dating relationship is to have someone actively and genuinely interested in getting to know you more. This interest can, and should, continue even in marriage. Someone who pursues you will plan activities for you to enjoy each other’s company and learn about each other. Their actions express that you are someone they care about deeply.
It’s one thing to hear beautiful things from someone, it’s another to have them show you how much they care with their actions. Love is not a feeling; it’s an action, and it’s a choice—a state of mind, if you will, that you can continue to act out of and pursue from.
If someone truly loves you, they will pursue you again and again and again. This doesn’t mean that the relationship won’t go through rough patches. To assume that pursuit alone will bypass any relational challenges is unrealistic. We live in a fallen world filled with self-centered people. But with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can continue pursuing others in love and faithfulness. We can practice putting their needs above ours, and loving sacrificially and boldly.
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What does the Bible say about being pursued?
The Bible is full of amazing examples of God pursuing His people, even unto death on a cross. God relentlessly pursues His children and captures their hearts. Scripture sets the tone for how all of our relationships in life should look: full of love, grace, forgiveness, and hard work. The Bible is one overarching, beautiful story of God pursuing His people: Israel, whom He set apart; and the Gentiles, whom He grafted in.
From the beginning, even before Eve took that forbidden bite, God was pursuing a relationship with His created beings. He delighted in spending time with them, and when they chose sin, He pursued them with grace. God’s immediate response after sin was to make a sacrifice. He took the lives of two creatures to make skins for Adam and Eve to wear. From that day on, God continued to call people to Himself. Whenever there was apostasy in Israel, He saved a remnant to continue to pursue. God is always after the hearts of His people.
Jesus, in His earthly ministry, pursued people. He did not pursue politics (as the zealots would have preferred), or power (as Satan tempted Him with). Jesus had compassion on the people He encountered. He loved them with an enthusiasm that was contagious. People followed Him, and He met them right where they were. He sat with them, ate with them, grieved with them, and gave them hope.
The Bible shows us what it looks like to be pursued by an amazing God who is relentless in His love for us. His mercies are new every morning, He offers grace upon grace, He loves sacrificially, and He is present always in the good times and bad. We can’t expect the person we’re dating to be perfect like God. However, we are called as Christians to live godly lives, and to be imitators of Christ. We are to love like Christ, and this is possible because the Holy Spirit indwells believers and gives us what we need to live beyond our own selfish desires each day.
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Here are 5 indicators the person you’re dating is pursuing you:
1. They are present when they are with you.
Someone who pursues you puts their phone down and looks you in the eyes. In a culture where phones are almost like another appendage, this is a big deal. When someone puts down their phone and looks at you, it says that you are more important than something fleeting. If your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife can’t get through one conversation with you without looking at their phone and getting distracted, they won’t be able to pursue you very well.
Distractions and entertainment have their place in life, but it should never come before a person, especially when they’re sitting across the table from you. If you feel the person you’re dating is always distracted when they’re with you, talk to them about it. Someone who pursues you should be excited to be with you; they should make plans with you and be delighted by your presence. They should want to be fully present with you.
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2. They ask about your needs and preferences.
In fact, they are actively seeking to fulfill your needs and encourage you in your struggles. They ask what you need and genuinely want to know the answer. They ask questions to find out what’s going on in your life and they don’t shy away from the challenges or uncomfortable parts of life.
There will be awkward moments or uncomfortable conversations, but someone who is pursuing you will stay by your side and walk with you at your pace—encouraging you to move more quickly or slowly as you need it. Someone who pursues you, seeks to consider your needs; they try to make changes that will build up the relationship.
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3. They pray for you daily or with you.
There’s nothing more encouraging than to have the person you care deeply for tell you they’re praying for you. As said in point 1, we live in a culture of distraction and endlessly available entertainment. It can be a challenge to take time out of our busy days and be still before our God.
Someone who prays for you is thinking outside of themselves. They are putting God first, which allows them to consider you, and not only themselves, in the relationship. They may pray for you or with you, but the act of prayer shows you that they are pursuing you with God at the forefront of their life.
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4. They listen and remember what you said.
Someone who pursues you is someone who listens to you and remembers what you have said—the silly things, the important things, the funny stories, and the deep thoughts. You can’t remember everything someone says, of course, but you can both make an effort to actively listen and remember what’s important to each other.
Later, when they say something back to you that you’ve said, or they say they remember a story, you will know this person is making room in their thought-space to really get to know you. Someone who pursues you has a desire to hear your thoughts and opinions and stories. They should find you interesting, and you should be interested in what they think and say.
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5. They share you with others and are excited to bring you along.
Someone who pursues you wants to share you with their family and friends; they also want you to have a relationship with your family and friends. They are complimentary of you in front of others. They want to include you in events and get-togethers, and they make room for you in their busy schedule.
You may both have your own space and quiet time, but the person you’re dating should make it known that you are chosen and important to them—that they want you in their life, and they want to share you with the people who mean the most to them.
They should also want to know the people who are most important to you. They should make time to get to know those people and vice versa. Pursuing someone means being part of their wider life and bringing them into yours.
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Do we deserve to be pursued?
To say that we deserve to be pursued is an overstatement. As believers, we know that we deserve the consequence of sin. But through grace God made a way from the beginning. He completed it at the cross, and He continues pursuing us all the days we have on earth and into eternity. Though we don’t deserve it, God pursues us in grace and love, and hope. By Christ’s sacrifice, God has made us worthy of being pursued.
We as Christians can imitate this choice as we pursue others and put their needs above ours. Someone who is pursuing you will put God first, and they will model Christ’s behavior of love and compassion. They will not be perfect, and there will naturally be mistakes and arguments—but they will love you and remain faithful despite all the challenges. They will want to keep growing with you in life.
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Date someone who reminds you of your worth in Christ’s eyes.
Date someone who sees life as an adventure to be had with you by their side and God at the center. Date someone who actively makes plans to see you and includes you in their life, someone who models sacrificial love, someone who hopes in what you will both grow into, and someone who reminds you how valued you are. Someone who pursues you will want you in their life no matter what circumstances may change.
There are so many little things you may have on your dating or marriage list of ideals, but the most important is someone who relentlessly pursues you in love and faithfulness. Whenever you doubt the importance of this aspect of your relationship, just remember how God pursues you and loves you every day.
“I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine” (Ezekiel 16:8).
Someone who pursues you, is continually making a choice to faithfully love you and genuinely care for you.
Liz Kanoy is a senior editor for Salem Web Network, she works with writers to get new, compelling content for Crosswalk, BibleStudyTools, and iBelieve.com.