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When I was fourteen, I said never again.

Never again would I date someone who was not a Christian like I am. I said this after my sixteen-year-old boyfriend told me he had sex with a girl from his school. He justified it saying, “Well you wouldn’t have sex with me.” Even at fourteen I knew to hang up the phone on him. I made the decision from that day forward I would not look twice at a guy who wasn’t a Christian.

I held on to that resolve for years, but it wasn’t that hard. I went to a Christian school and went to  church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I knew tons of Christian guys…well, Christian in theory. I didn’t need them to be Jesus Junkies, I just needed them to understand the things of God and understand me in that way. I needed them to be guys who prayed and read the Bible on their own time who didn’t call me “church girl”. I just wanted to make my dating life easier.

When I was 19 and enrolled in Bible College, I met the love of my college life. The first one, anyway. He was Christian just like I wanted and I was head over heels. When I moved away for state university, our long-distance relationship survived about two years, we amicably (and predictably) split. Still, I was devastated. Not because I lost my boyfriend, but because I felt I lost my future husband (dramatic, I know). From then on, I decided dating a man I wanted to marry was too much pressure and caused too much sadness in the end. I just wanted to date for fun and not necessarily marriage, so faced with the tons of non-Christian men at my school and back home, I reasoned that it didn’t matter if the guy was a Christian or not.

I quickly realized that my heart is too intense for “fun” when I met the second college love of my life at 21. He was darn near Atheist and I knew I was in trouble. I can’t even count how many beliefs I went against while pursuing that relationship. We had great conversations but our differing religious and moral beliefs made my head spin. So much for fun, I was miserable. After that “relationship”, I was already driving down the wrong road and I just kept driving, dating man after man who offered me nothing but an all-expense paid extended stay in Heartbreak Hotel without even the parting gift of a memory of being in an actual relationship.  Nope, just one emotionally distant guy after another who didn’t share my morals or beliefs in any way.

One day, while lamenting yet another painful experience, I remembered what I had said ten years earlier when I was fourteen. Once again, I decided I was done. I knew that if I could ever hope to be in a functioning relationship with a man who loved me, I needed to stop talking to guys who weren’t Christians.

My relationship with Jesus is very important to me and those negative experiences taught me that Christianity is a huge thing to not have in common. Nobody’s perfect, not even Christian guys, but I needed someone who was walking the same path I was. Considering the men I knew, I considered going to live in a monastery since I was convinced there were no single, Christian men anywhere.

A few years later, after a couple more negative experiences (because old habits die hard), I finally did meet a Christian man who ended up being the love of my entire life — not just my college life. He is someone who prays with me, goes to church with me, discusses the things of God with me and just understands me on a different level than any other guy I’ve dated.

Of course, there are a lot of things about him that make him special beyond the fact that he’s a Christian, but our mutual religious beliefs bond us in a way that is hard to describe.

I used to feel bad when I would tell men that I only date Christians, but after marrying one, I realize that was the best decision I ever made.

Follow Alissa Henry on Twitter @AlissaInPink

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