The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating is the sermon series where I first heard about the “One Year No Dating Challenge“. Unfortunately, I was married. I say unfortunately because when Andy Stanley mentioned it in the series I immediately thought, “Why didn’t I do that!” As I have admitted without shame, marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – even after being single for a long time. Now I tell women that the One Year No Dating Challenge is the one thing I wish I had done when I was single. I know it would have been life-changing.
When I heard that the sermon series was being written in book format, I couldn’t wait to read it. No, I’m no longer single, but I knew it would help me as I mentor single women and it will one day help me when my daughters are teenagers. The book lived up to my expectations and more. I even recommend it to married people for reasons I’ll mention below.
What the Book’s About
The first chapter explains myths we often believe about dating and relationships – the biggest being The Right Person Myth which says “there’s a right person for you, and once you find your right person, everything will be all right (p. 22).” Andy unpacks this myth by discussing other false beliefs such as when a relationship feels right it is right, sexual compatibility makes someone the right person, passion will sustain love and make the relationship survive, a baby will make everything better, looking for another “right person” will make everything all right, and my friends and family are delusional when they don’t approve of this relationship.
In chapter two, Andy moves into the premise of the whole book: Become the person your looking for is looking for. He opens this up with a plea to prepare.
Promises and commitments are no substitute for preparation.” (p. 36)
This is the reason I wish I had taken the One Year No Dating Challenge when I was single. Because I didn’t prepare. And after you’re married, preparation is impossible. You’re in the game at that point. Preparation can only be done before.
Chapters three and four discuss the importance of becoming the right person and how to become the right person. If you get nothing else from the book, you need to get this.
As I talk to single women I find that their focus is on circumstances surrounding them and the person they hope to meet. Seldom are the women concerned with who they are or aren’t becoming. This is easy for me to identify because I was one of these women.
Throughout my twenties and early thirties, even right into marriage, I worried and stewed over questions like, “Should I move to meet more guys?”, “Should I buy a house?”, “What if I never meet someone?”, “Does he have enough of what I’m looking for?” The list goes on. I did not concentrate on the person I was becoming.
The healthier you are, the healthier your relationships will be. Truth is, your relationships will never be any healthier than you.” (p. 57)
Chapter five goes on to unpack 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 which is your “to become list” (p. 76). Andy explains in detail each part of “the love verses” in the Bible in a way that I have never heard or read. This chapter makes the book worth reading for married people as well.
Then there are the chapters everyone wants to read (or possibly wants to avoid): the sex chapters. This section starts off by explaining how we got where we are as a culture and why we’re not any farther gone compared to previous ancient cultures. God’s commands in the Bible regarding sex aren’t to make us more prudish or have less fun. They’re actually to give us the most fulfilling sexual experience possible. They’re to give us sexual freedom, and they’re to elevate the status and role of women. In a nutshell, sex is more than physical – much more.
There are so many quotes I wish I could share with you here, but for a taste:
If you’ve never been married, you should know the sexual decisions you make before you say ‘I do’ will impact your sexual experience afterward. Your sexual experience will be impacted by your partner’s pre-vow sexual decisions as well.” (p. 137)
Your potential for relational intimacy is inexorably linked to your sexual experience.” (p. 140)
The heartbreaking consequence or our sexually liberated culture is that single men and women are undermining their own potential for sexual fulfillment later in life.” (p. 141)
I want you to remember that I am married. So I have the perspective of that of a single woman and that of a married woman. Every single statement Andy wrote above is absolutely true. I don’t know you, and I have no reason to lie to you. But I will say this, anyone who says that their sexual experiences before marriage have no impact on their marriage or helped their marriage is either lying or unaware of their reality. The consequences of sexual sin do not show up as only sexual consequences. There are many, maybe even more, emotional and relational consequences to sexual sin that you often don’t attribute to sexual sin, but that’s what caused them.
Finally, in the last chapter, Andy discusses the One Year No Dating Challenge. I have women email me weekly about this challenge, and the biggest question I get is “Is this challenge for me? I’m not really dating anyone, and I’m not caught up in sexual sin. Should I take this challenge?”
Andy primarily recommends this challenge for people who are or have been caught up in dysfunctional and sexual relationships. However, I think this challenge is for a broader scope of women and this is the reason.
When I was single I was not in bondage to sexual sin. My lifestyle was not such that I struggled tremendously in this area. Some? Yes. I was not perfect, and I do have regrets, but on a spectrum I can’t say this was my primary area of defeat.
However, I was in bondage to another kind of sin that has brought me regret even years later as a married woman. This is why I call myself a “recovering single.” I made men and marriage idols in my life instead of passionately pursuing my relationship with Jesus. I fretted and worried and coerced and tried to make life happen for me instead of trusting God to do what is best for me. I wasted a lot of time, I missed many opportunities, and I regret it. I did not focus on becoming. Instead I focused on getting. And I was determined to “get” no matter what it took.
So I do recommend the One Year No Dating Challenge to any woman who needs to refocus her life on becoming the woman God wants her to become. Maybe you don’t have a colored dating history (praise God for that!) and you’re not smothered by sexual sin. If you still find yourself obsessing on dating, men, and marriage, then this challenge is for you.
Of course I highly recommend this book to every single person and even to married people or those of you with daughters and young women you mentor. It’s important that as mothers and mentors we fully equip ourselves to speak truth into the lives of the women we serve.
So I’m giving away one copy of The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating this week! Just enter below! But if you don’t win, run and get this book fast. It’s a must read!
** A copy of the book The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating by Andy Stanley was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All of the comments and opinions above are my own. Read my disclosure policy here.