I once read that godly dating should be done in a way that even if the relationship ends (end even if it hurts), it should be done in a way that leaves the other party better for having known you. I agree with that concept. In a way, dating relationship are friendships and all friendships and relationships should help the parties grow. My friends sometimes irritate me or upset me, but most of the time I find them to be encouraging presence in my life-- not to mention people the Lord uses to grow me, point me truth, and show me Himself in a new way.
Am I doing that in dating? What would this look like?
1. During your time together, encouraging, correcting and building up in a proper manner.
Whether you marry this person or not, your affirmation and encouragement could help him make changes for the woman who does. Do you point out the good? When addressing the bad, do you do it kindly? or are you manipulative and harsh?
2. Always talk about the gospel at some point during dating (even if casually)
Not only is open communication about spiritual matters a good way to learn where they are spiritually, it may encourage someone's faith to grow. If I walk away from a dating situation because I realize he is not serious about his faith (a good reason to end things) but I have failed to share with him why my Savior is so important to me, then I have wasted an opportunity. Those few dates may have been a get to know you time, but I could also have used them to talk some about my faith. You never know if that sparks a curiosity or even a friendship that may lead to more discussions.
3. Handle breakups kindly.
If you need to end something, accept your feelings and don't blame them for what you feel. Do share some reasons for why things aren't working out, but you can share flaws in you or them or the relationship without attacking.
4. Respond to breakups correctly.
Even if breakups are handled right, this is still hard to do. Even if you are upset, try not to attack. I think it is fine to speak your mind and even stick up for yourself (if attacked) or disagree with their reasoning, but this can be done in a Christlike manner.
5. Handle conflict well.
Fight well. Confront well. These are skills needed in friendships and with family, and particularly within marriage. Start practicing now. Even if the man you are dating ends up not being the one, maybe you have gained some insight in how to handle differences or vice versa.
6. Show Grace.
We all grow from the realization that God and others show grace. Maybe your forgiveness of mistakes in his past (or vice versa) encourages Him towards a deeper understanding of the Lord's grace...maybe it gives him the courage to keep fighting temptations or heartache or fear.
7.Take the high road.
Some dating situations don't end in a moderately painful breakup. Some end due to lying, deceiving, cheating, abandonment, addiction. I recognize that and there is no reason not to stand up in the face of that and say No, I will not handle this. Or if he chooses to attack you while he breaks things off, you have a right to defend yourself. But, as you do so, do so firmly but kindly. As you take the higher ground, as you refuse to attack or name call, you could leave someone with a taste of grace (see above) -- you never know when those planted seeds will grow. Some day, years from now, they may be seeking and remember how you handled things well.
Personally....there are times I have handled things poorly and when I have, I have regretted this. But, I have tried the last few years to leave the man better when it ends...and that has meant not attacking during the breakup and biting my toungue to not spread dirt to people he may know, praying that my heart forgives, and striving to be polite in situations where I am forced to interact with men I have dated. I have failed at this a lot, of course, but I find that the thought of 'I'm leaving them better than I found them' helps me a lot.
I dated a man last year who was not the right man for me (obviously) and we both knew and I drug my feet on ending it (wrong of me)...why? because he was the nicest guy. But, when I did finally end it, I made a point to do it kindly and he made a point to handle it well. And it sucked for awhile because I liked him, but now things are fine. And when anyone asks about him, I only have the best things to say about him...and strangely enough, I truly hope he meets the right girl for him soon. It hit me today- what a great guy he is if even after a breakup, my first thoughts of him and how he treated me for a few months are only positive....do I leave those I date the same way? Do people who have dated me think good thoughts of me and well wishes?? What a challenge to leave men better for having known me.