Book Review: True Love Dates

Why am I reviewing a book about dating, you might ask. Well, it’s because I received a free copy to do so! But I requested this specific book because I was intrigued at the possibility of it actually having something helpful to say. The thing is, Christians don’t always do a great job of integrating our religious norms with cultural norms in the broader world, and dating is definitely an area where I think we can improve.

So let’s jump in: True Love Dates, by Debra Fileta, identifies itself as “your indispensable guide to finding the love of your life.” Of course, the author pulls a bit of a fast one, since the introduction lets you know this book is not actually about finding love, it is about loving yourself, building healthy relationships and pursuing your relationship with God so that your life is in a good state for whenever that relationship with your future-spouse comes along. There is some good material along the way, an FAQ section at the back, and lots of real-life examples scattered through the book.

Once I got over the cliche of “date yourself before you worry about dating others,” I did think the first section of the book could be a good resource for reflecting on your identity and values, searching for areas of growth. Of course, this is a good practice for anybody, married or single, and I think it could be useful for someone who has the maturity and insight to be honest with themselves. The trouble is, not everybody does, especially when it comes to areas we are vulnerable or broken, so I think this section would be best used with a mentor, pastor, counsellor or close friend.

The second section, about actually dating (“dating outward” as opposed to the “inward dating” you’ve accomplished in the first section) did not impress me with the assignment to make a list of qualities that are red, yellow, or green flags. Again, in the context of counselling it could be great, but for the average university student who hopes to get married one day it won’t be that fruitful to spend an afternoon brainstorming all the green flags you hope to find combined in one person and debating whether bad breath is a yellow flag or red. I also really didn’t like the chapter that drew parallels between the four seasons and “seasons” we have to go through in dating relationships. There are some good ideas in there and helpful advice about dealing with conflict, changing feelings, increasing vulnerability and trust, but the format of dividing these issues into “seasons” rubbed me the wrong way. These things don’t always happen in a particular order or in a certain time frame, so I think someone reading this book for relationship advice might end up with the wrong impression because they still have “spring” feelings or are waiting for “winter” to know they’ve been together long enough to move forward and get engaged.

The best chapter of the book, in my opinion gives practical advice about keeping emotionally healthy boundaries in dating relationships. Emotional do’s and don’ts that include guarding your time, maintaining hobbies/friendships outside of the relationship, and not letting your imagination run out of control are all excellent advice for people in relationships and seeking relationships.

The chapter about not having sex before marriage is a bit cliche but also mixes in sound insight from a counselling perspective and a few practical suggestions. I 100% agree that couples should not have sex before they are married. Rings on, ceremony over. But I also feel that a book is not going to convince anyone who isn’t already on board with this idea. I was happy to see that one of the reasons the author gives to abstain is that sex covers relationship flaws. Certainly as Christians we should submit to the moral code that God has outlined in scripture as the best way to live, but more often than not there are also extremely practical reasons behind these moral guidelines. Sex is amazing for relationships, and it was designed by God to keep people together for a lifetime. Having sex before marriage makes it much harder to figure out whether that person is a good candidate to marry because instead of relying on respect, communication, self-discipline and sacrifice to maintain your relationship and get past bumps in the road, sex is an easy way to patch things up and move forward. Unfortunately when it comes to marriage, sex isn’t always possible/the best way to resolve issues, and it is better to have more tools on your relationship-maintenance tool belt than just doin’ it. Also, you’ll probably be less critical of someone who just gave you a great roll in the hay, which is awesome when you’re married and not awesome when you have a mediocre dating partner.

Chastity intact, we arrive at the “dating upward” section. No, the author is not suggesting Jesus be your boyfriend – that would be TOO cliche, although most of this section boils down to reminding the reader that no human relationship can fulfill us in the way a relationship with God does. She does highlight the importance of connecting with others and building strong friendships in community because we are designed for human relationships but too often elevate romantic relationships and underappreciate the value of true friends and family. Lots of great encouragement here, but not a lot of practical advice on how to get connected and find support, so if its not your strength you’re a bit out of luck.

Overall, I would give this book three out of five stars. It is not groundbreaking, and it is certainly not “indispensable,” but it could be a good resource for someone who wants to start reading about dating from a Christian perspective, especially if they have someone to talk through the ideas with. I’ll be donating it to our church library and hopefully some other people can get use out of it!


What are YOUR thoughts on Christians dating? Is it that much different than non-Christians? What advice should I store up for future Torre?


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through BookSneeze.comĀ® in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.

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