Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

What is the Right Age for a Relationship?


Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! I’ll start posting some articles about the ever-popular love life topic.

There’s an old expression for kids who fall in love: “puppy love.” Puppy love is wonderful—if you want to catch rabies.

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, “what is the right age to get involved in a relationship?” My first answer is a joke—I tell them “30.” After the students stop laughing I give them my real answer.

What is the right age? You are ready for a relationship if you are prepared to get married within a reasonable amount of time. I agree with many Christian authors on this point—dating/courting should be preparation for marriage. If you cannot seriously think about marriage, you should probably not be involved in an exclusive relationship with the opposite sex.

I see “puppy love” all the time here in Manila. I see high school kids walking around the mall holding hands. The college students also make decisions that are unwise and directly contradict their own plans. I often ask a crowd of students what age they would like to get married. Most of them say “25.” This is how I respond: “Guys, you are all about 17 years old (some groups of students are even younger). Do you plan to court someone for 8 years?” Teenagers are often eager to find a boyfriend/girlfriend without considering the real future of the relationship.

What do I mean by being ready to marry? I’ll give you a few factors.

Emotionally Ready: Marriage is for people who are emotionally mature. From a scientific/biological standpoint, we know that the brain continues to mature into the mid-twenties. This does not mean that we are automatically matured by age 25, nor does it mean all teenagers are immature. I have met some 30 year olds who act like they are still 13. I’ve met some 17-year-olds who are quite level-headed and mature. Even the most mature teenager, however, will probably be wiser by the time he/she is in the mid-twenties.

Here are just a few questions to evaluate your emotional maturity:
Are you easy to get along with?
How do you respond when you don’t get your way?
Do you know how to compromise?
Can you discuss disagreements without fighting?
Do you fight with your friends or girlfriend/boyfriend over petty (unimportant) things?
Can you put someone else’s needs ahead of your own?
Are you ready to share 100% of your life with someone?
Do you understand your goals/purpose in life?
Can you honestly express what you feel?
Are you overly jealous?
Are you honest and trustworthy?
Are you too sensitive or insensitive?
Are you overly dramatic?

Of course, all of us could improve in these areas, but the average teenager needs a lot of improvement (especially a young teenager). This is why most teenagers are not ready for marriage. Of course there are exceptions—there are people who get married at 18 and live happily ever after. Generally speaking, however, most teens are not ready for a lifetime commitment (especially when considering the other factors that I’m about to tell you).

Financially Ready: Men, don’t bother pursuing a serious relationship if you are not financially ready to take care of a family (or able to get to that point soon). Women, don’t commit yourself to a man who has not proven himself to be a good provider. I know this sounds materialistic or unromantic, but there’s nothing more unromantic than wondering where your next meal will come from. I don’t mean that a guy has to be rich, just financially stable. Both men and women should look for someone who is disciplined financially.

Spiritually Ready: A marriage relationship should glorify God. The Bible often compares marriage to God’s relationship with His people (the Church is called the Bride of Christ, for example). You can only glorify God with your relationships if you are spiritually mature yourself. Focus on your relationship with God before focusing on romantic relationships. I do not mean that you need a perfect spiritual life to be ready. I simply mean that you need to learn the basics of walking with God.

Let me make a few more observations based on what I’ve seen and even my own experience. Again, these are just observations, so there are exceptions. Regardless, I think it is good to pay attention:

1. High School crushes rarely produce marriages. In other words, you most likely will not marry your teenage crush.

2. Some of us are very thankful that #1 is true. No offense to the girls of my high school/college, but now I’m glad that those relationships didn’t happen or work out for whatever reason. The reason is this—we often don’t really know who/what is good for us when we are still teenagers. Sometimes we look back and say, “what was I thinking—why in the world did I even like that person?”

3. Generally speaking, more harm than good seems to come out of teenage romance (especially for younger teens). I see a lot more broken hearts than happy endings. One might argue that having crushes and having your heart broken is simply a part of being a teenager. This may be true. My concern, however, is that many young people make their suffering worse by pursuing relationships when they are way too young.

After reading this article, you may think I’m the “anti-cupid.” I’m not (promise). I’m actually a very romantic guy.   I simply want you to approach relationships realistically, with eyes wide open.

Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.
-Song of Solomon 8:4

This is one of the many articles that you’ll find in my book: Basta Lovelife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions.

24 Comments

  1. I absolutely, definitely, totally agree with you! As Christians, we need to show the world a different, radical, counter-culture kind of love. We need to think beyond simply not having sex before marriage and not dating non-Christians. Jesus calls us to love like He does, which means selflessly and for forever. That means we have to wait until the right time to be sure that we are ready to make that kind of commitment. One thing we should never forget is that the right thing at the wrong time is STILL the wrong thing.

  2. “What is the Right Age for a Relationship?” – let me rewind a little bit – might also be timely to ask Kuya Kevin – the classic question when I was still young hehe – “How can you know if he is God’s ideal?” – will God show him just like when Isaac was revealed to Rebekah? – cause most of the time, he is vaguely seen – or maybe I’m just not looking (or just not (worthy to be) seen hehe) just kidding Lord, I AM Your child, and I AM definitely cute in Your eyes 🙂 “12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Follow up question, “What is the right age GAP in a relationship?”, like I frown on people with this huge age gap … um, like it’s not biblical ???

  3. How to know if He’s “the one?”: Funny, I was just asked that question earlier after a TLW seminar. I think you really just have to pray, spend time with that person, and see how God leads.

    How do you search–or should you search?: This is a tricky issue. If you never meet other singles or have no social life, it would be a good idea to change that. If you have a pretty active social life, then you just have to keep praying to find the one for you.

    The age gap issue: Well, the problem is that the Bible really does not directly address that issue that I can see. In the case of Isaac and Rebekah it is quite possible that there was a 20 year age gap. Isaac was probably about 40 and Rebekah much younger. Of course, that was a different time and culture.

    I try to be very careful in cases where the Bible is silent. Couples would need to think about the potential problems of age gaps. If they are both happy, there’s not really a Scripture which prohibits them from getting married.

    Not sure that these are very thorough answers. Feel free to write back and we’ll keep discussing it.

  4. hi kuya kevin! i enjoy reading your posts. thanks for the topics you take on and the insights you share 🙂

  5. hi i really have a great time reading your article. it was very substantial and very important taht teenagers now a days need guides like your articles that can enrich their lives… God bless and continue to be a blessings to others..

  6. Nice article kuya kevin. how do you know if its love your feeling?

  7. JC,

    I’ll address that in my book, but keep in mind that “feelings” are not really a good way to know if you are truly compatible with someone.

    Respect, commitment, etc are also parts of love.

  8. hi kevin,

    You are such a great help.. Thanks be to God 🙂

    Its me,
    Sofia

  9. i absolutely like this one…
    thank you..

  10. hello kevs,

    i’m shale from bohol,philippines.i admire how you see life in the real perspective.you made me appreciate how important relationships are!thanKs a lot…kevin!GodSpeed & mOre pOwer.

    truly,
    shale

  11. Maika Alizarine Ramos

    05/14/2008 at 10:35 pm

    I hope you’ll be able to read this…..I had a youth camp last month and one of the topics of our pastor is this one…when I first heard those 3 ready-factors in a relationship I doubt about it cos what runs in my mind is that how could you be ready in a relationship if you didnt learned something from your pass relationships? ( that you should have relationships first before getting married) maybe satan just wants to ruin my attention by then….but thank God, I heard it from you which is I least expected cos Im just browsing my friendster and found this website….I believe thats its God’s will that I had read this…..God bless..

  12. hi kuya kevin im one your blog reader i just recently join the club if i may say so. I read in one of your statement your looking forward in meeting your future love. Im just wondering are you really loveless (laugh) who knows you might be the guy for me im loveless too.

    Its me secret

  13. I wod like to receive email from you personally. Im broke still single at the age 35 maybe im not lucky in love. If you agree please respond at my comment. Thanks

    Sugar35

  14. Well, I’d suggest you do something about being broke, then you can do something about being single.

  15. hi kuya kevin….

    i really like this.. and i enjoy reading your article’s thanks and god bless!!!

    jhoy28!!!

  16. thanks for this article, kuya kevin. so informative, i just hope this type of topic will be discussed openly by parents to their children. as my hubby was asked by one of our daughters as to when they can have a boyfriend, he just answered, “when you are ready to get married.” then, we made explanations. it is best to be openly talking about relationships to our children, especially now that the world is getting very influential to our children’s lives. god bless you kuya kevin!

  17. I’d like to ask your opinion about this:
    Should we pray specifically for the characteristics and interests a future lifetime partner (like someone should be into music, should be authoritative or submissive, etc.) or should we just accept whoever God would present to us and not to expect too much? I’ve been hearing two different sides with regards to this. How do we set our standards and still not being too perfectionist? (just to give you a background,I grew up without a male figure in the family…so ideally I’d like to have someone who would “play the roles of being a father/brother” to me aside from being a husband. Am I asking too much?

    thanks a lot!
    this is mherls

  18. Hi, have we met before? Sorry, I get confused with all of the students and online folks that I chat with.

    I think you have to find a balance. You should have high standards, but they should some how be realistic.

    You should choose a man who would be a good leader. Could he be a father/brother figure? Maybe. The most important thing is that you look for a guy with good character.

    Hope this helps.

  19. Nope. I just came across your blog through a multiply group alert.

    Thanks for your words, it did helped.

    You really have a heart for the Philippines’ youth,God bless you more!
    > mherls

  20. i like your opinion about love . . .

  21. man, i like this post of yours – this sure is edifying. God bless you.

    the-daily-light.blogspot.com

  22. now i understand why my mom always thinks that when i got in a relationship, i will marry soon… because for me, its not…. now i know why my mom thinks that way…

    thanks for this wonderful post…

    more power..

    hugs.. 😛

  23. I totally agree with number 2!
    whoo. :)) but at least my mistakes before had made me realize a lot of things and made me become a better person. 🙂 cool article 😀

  24. khrystelle,
    Please email me personally about this.

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