Love Nest

Sarah Arthur

One week, you and your best friend are inseparable. The next week, it’s as you never existed. Your friend has started dating Mr. or Miss Wonderful, and no one else matters.

couple holding hands2 iStock_000010523893Call it the love-nest syndrome. As soon as we start dating the guy or girl of our dreams, we shut out everyone else. Friends? They will understand. Family? So embarrassing! Church? Not so much! The two of us are interested only in each other. So we create a little cocoon, a love nest, and pretend that’s all we need.

The truth is that we can’t truly know another person outside the context of his or her other relationships. Family, friends, and faith shape a person’s character. If we are clueless about who our boyfriend or girlfriend is with other people, then we’re clueless about who he or she is—period. The same goes for us. The way we treat our family, friends, and faith community is the best indicator of how we’ll treat our partner down the road. If our other relationships are ignored or unhealthy, then our romance doesn’t have much chance for success.

Pride and Prejudice

Have you read Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice? It’s the story of a beautiful, quick-witted, middle-class young woman, Elizabeth (Lizzy) Bennett, who receives an unexpected proposal of marriage from an aristocratic snob named Fitzwilliam Darcy. Yes, “Fitzwilliam,” as in, “I’m too fancy for you. My friends will not approve. My family will disown me. This goes against my better judgment. You should be grateful I’ve even noticed you.”

For a fleeting moment, this awkward proposal sounds terribly romantic and Lizzy may wonder, Will he will throw away everything because he loves me? But despite the fact that Mr. Darcy is rich, dashing, and good-hearted (as we learn later), Lizzy doesn’t succumb to the love-nest syndrome. She recognizes that when it comes to romance, ignoring friends, family, and faith is impossible because they are an essential part of who we are. Shutting out everyone else doesn’t make for a healthy romance.

Your True Self

Think of the guy or girl who is willing to blow off family responsibilities to spend time with you.

devozine Forgive? TS 119151704Follow the logical progression of the relationship to its desired outcome. Eventually, you will be a member of the family. If you’ve observed that he or she repeatedly treats family with a lack of respect and attention, won’t you be treated the same way?

If you push to the side relationships with family or friends while you’re dating, what happens if you break up? Along the way you’ve missed out on chances to cultivate and to deepen the relationships that will outlast most temporary romances.

And God? The only way to be yourself is to intentionally grow closer to the one who created you, saved you, and has a plan for your life. If you’re not including God in your romantic relationship, you’re becoming less and less the person you are meant to be. Matthew 6:33 (NRSV) says, “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”—even a healthy romance.


white terns

If you’re dating someone, consider these questions: How does my boyfriend or girlfriend treat his or her parents? siblings? friends? faith community? What do his or her other relationships tell me about the chances for a successful romance?

If you’re not currently dating someone, ask the same questions about yourself. Pray about what you can do to change or improve your relationships.


Sarah Arthur ( is the author of numerous books, including Dating Mr. Darcy: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Sensible Romance, from which this article is adapted. When she’s not chasing her two small sons, she volunteers in youth ministry at Sycamore Creek UMC in Lansing, Michigan, where her husband, Tom, is the pastor.

—from devozine (September/October 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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