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The Short Version: When singles have had a history of dating the wrong types of people, chances are that history will repeat itself. Christian Relationship Coach Nancy Pina helps singles focus on themselves before they get back into the dating scene. She believes that, while technology has made it easier to date, it hasn’t made it easy to find the right person. That’s why Nancy works with singles to create a foundation in faith, so they can prepare themselves to meet that special someone.
For many singles in today’s world, online dating sites and apps are the easiest places to find a date. With thousands of dating sites in the U.S., those looking for love may even feel that the options are limitless.
However, with all of those choices can come pressure to make the right one. Even if online daters find a match, they may still be putting their energy into someone who isn’t a good fit for them. That’s because many platforms match users based on a limited amount of information.
Christian Relationship Counselor and Dating Coach Nancy Pina guides clients through that uncertainty by teaching them to take a step back, restore faith in themselves, and truly understand their inner needs.
She sees the advantages and pitfalls of online dating and knows that it can be a blessing or a curse depending on how singles approach it.
“The primary question I get from my single clients has been the same throughout my career: Where do I meet a like-minded person who is committed and serious about marriage?” she said. “While the trend in dating apps is convenience and minimal information, I do not buy into the idea that people have a short attention span and don’t want to read a lengthy profile. In my experience with singles, the opposite is true for those who are serious about a meaningful relationship.”
Meeting the right person who is searching for a long-term relationship can be challenging. That’s why Nancy develops strategies to help singles become more successful.
Nancy said the key — either online or in person — is to avoid the temptation of going out on endless dates or focusing on dating many people with the hope of finding that special someone.
Instead, she recommends that single men and women spend time on self-reflection — while leaning on their faith — to prepare themselves for deeper, more meaningful relationships.
It’s no longer taboo to search for love online, whether it’s on large global dating sites or more niche sites that target a specific type of person. However, Nancy said she wishes some sites would shift the focus from making money to helping people prepare for serious relationships.
“Commitment and marriage are the most important decisions a person will make in his or her lifetime. I would like to see a trend in the industry toward relationship preparation instead of monetizing apps that rely primarily on physical attraction, educational background, professions, similar life goals, and interests,” she told us. “Learning how to communicate in a relationship, resolve conflicts, and establish a solid foundation to build a life together provides lasting benefits to singles.”
That level of preparation can also help singles find the right person for them, rather than just the same type that they’ve been dating unsuccessfully. Nancy often coaches her clients to give up on the idea that love happens. Instead, she teaches them that it can take focus and direction to make the best choices in a relationship.
To accomplish that, Nancy encourages single clients to honestly examine their past relationship patterns to understand what they can change in themselves. That may be a significant shift from blaming the other person for a relationship’s demise.
Then, they can create a plan for an emotionally healthy, stable relationship without the barriers of past pain and trauma. And by setting that solid foundation within themselves, singles can recognize — and address — red flags early on in the dating process. Nancy’s preparation techniques can also help people balance their careers and romantic lives while also developing a stronger character.
It may come as no surprise that women, who tend to use online dating less regularly than men, are frequently less satisfied with the entire process. Nancy said superficiality in online dating is one of the common complaints she’s heard from women in 2019.
“Women, in particular, believe the men who select them on a dating site or app only look at their profile pictures without a glance at their basic information,” she said.
“People tend to text things that they believe will make them attractive and portray a positive image that may not reflect their true character. Texting is not a good way to determine if there is enough compatibility to move toward dating and establish an exclusive relationship.” — Nancy Pina
That doesn’t necessarily create a solid foundation for understanding each other. But when it takes so long to meet the person and start dating, women may not realize that superficiality until they try to become more emotionally involved.
“Since smartphones dominate our culture, we see a reliance on texting over actual in-person meetings. So many people delay meeting in person from the get-go and instead attempt to do all the initial relating digitally,” Nancy said. “People tend to text things that they believe will make them attractive and portray a positive image that may not reflect their true character. Texting is not a good way to determine if there is enough compatibility to move toward dating and establish an exclusive relationship.”
That can be especially challenging if a client has a past filled with the wrong kind of relationships. If someone doesn’t know what a loving relationship feels like, it may be easy for someone to manipulate them.
That’s why Nancy recommends daters meet face-to-face early, while also working on themselves, so they can more easily see if an emotional and spiritual connection exists with the other person. Working with a faith-based coach can also help clients avoid the pitfalls that come from dating someone whose beliefs don’t align with their own, she added.
Singles of faith often feel pressured to pick the right partner, but, without truly understanding themselves, they can repeat mistakes. Nancy helps those singles understand their needs and more about healthy relationships.
Nancy doesn’t just help singles, though. She also works with many couples considering marriage, married couples experiencing challenges, and families that need some guidance for the future.
Either way, spiritual growth is a vital part of every phase of those relationships, Nancy said.
“As a Christian counselor, my plan for 2019 is to continue to work with clients on their spiritual growth,” she told us. “I will teach the design of marriage and family life, excellent communication skills that emphasize active listening, and how to resolve conflicts that lead to workable solutions without bitterness.”
Premarital counseling can be an essential step to a lifetime of happiness, so Nancy encourages clients to create healthy boundaries and priorities for themselves and their relationships before walking down the aisle. Couples should be on the same page when it comes to day-to-day chores, lifestyle choices, and ways to nurture their faith.
Effective communication is also a foundational aspect of marriage, and addressing problem trends, including criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and avoidance, can be helpful. Nancy helps couples focus on how they can come together to strengthen their bond rather than making sessions a place for venting frustrations.
Wherever clients fall on the relationship spectrum, understanding their past and their values is an important place to start.
“Because relational patterns are key to understanding the quality of the relationships we have — and the ones that ended — I explore those trends and patterns with my clients,” Nancy said. “The goal is to make the appropriate changes, whether they’re single or married, so the cycle can finally stop, and the client can experience a mutually satisfying and loving union.”