Finding the right one is, for most singles I know, stupidly complex.
I can remember as a single feeling as though I was one of a countless crowd of singles who were gathered on one side of a great canyon, and on the other side were the married people. And no one knew how persons got from one side to the other.
Here are some random thoughts on the topic:
1. Like married persons, single persons think they know what they need, but they don’t. So stop pretending. Don’t even go there. All the personality traits and dispositions and interests, etc., etc., that you DO want in your future spouse all have downsides. That is, they can all be hijacked by selfishness. And the traits, dispositions, interests, etc., that you DON’T want in your future spouse? They have their upsides, upsides that you probably don’t (yet) fully appreciate. All these features were made by God: they are all hijacked by sin, and they are all redeemed by grace. Making personality traits a decisive factor in your search for Mr. or Mrs. Right will lead to disappointment. I recall (stupidly) saying to a minister when I was single, “I want to marry a woman who will make me laugh.” And he (very appropriately) responded, “If you marry a woman who will make you laugh, I can promise you she’ll make you cry.” Also, making personality traits a decisive factor in your search will greatly narrow the list of possible candidates. Two things will happen: first, you will have narrowed down the field of possible mates so much that you will prematurely dismiss some wonderful persons; second, you will become obsessed with a guy or girl who either isn’t interested in you or is already taken. And that will make you depressed.
2. Physical attractions comes and goes, ebbs and wanes. The guy who wants a tall, voluptuous brunette will, after he has her for a while, want a shorter, petite blonde (once again, for a while). Making this a decisive factor is foolish and degrading (and probably even hypocritical).
3. Here are the three things that your potential spouse needs to have; they are all convictions. They must be persuaded that…
(i) Jesus is bigger than your marriage. God can and will use not only your obedience and your gifts to strengthen your marriage; he will also use your weaknesses and sin–assuming, of course, that you confess them. There is nothing more wonderful than having a spouse who has more dirt on you than anyone else in the world AND accepts you more than anyone else in the world. That makes for true intimacy–emotional, spiritual, and sexual.
(ii) Marriage is God’s idea: He designed it; he came up with it; and he tells how it’s supposed to work. A potential spouse must be willing to do marriage as he designed it. This manages expectations, which get completely out of hand, when marriage becomes my idea or yours. God created marriage to be (profoundly) for you but (utterly) not about you.
(iii) Marriage needs the church: If your potential spouse doesn’t think being part of the body of Christ is crucial, then say goodbye. Why? Because a lack of desire to be fed, to serve, to be accountable, etc., is indicative of a person’s functional understanding of the power of their own sin and, thus, of how much they have been forgiven. And whoever has been forgiven little loves little. Further, if they haven’t been imbedded in a local church community, then chances are there’s no church leader who can say, “Yeah, I truly know that person really well, and so does their small group leader.”
Everything else is tertiary.
One final thought: The bible uses many metaphors to describe the church. Probably the dominant metaphor is that of a family. We are all, single and married, brothers and sisters to one another and children of our Heavenly Father, with Jesus as our brother (Mark 3.33-34; Romans 8.29). If Christian singles embraced and lived out this metaphor, it would be so liberating. Seeing one another has brothers and sisters means the possibility of real and significant relationship without any assumption of romantic overtones. It means that singles can deeply care for and truly love one another without EITHER person implying or inferring that there is a desire for something more. Why? Because you are brother and sister. Further, a sister has full right (obviously!) to initiate a conversation with her brother, whether it’s at church or over coffee somewhere. Further still, a brother can get to know more than one sister at once without there being any confusion, suspicion, competition, etc. It’s normal and expected. In short, by rejecting our culture’s confusing and conflicting norms for dating and by being a countercultural community that identifies itself as members of God’s family, we can actually get to know each other, serve and love each other, benefit from each other, and, if desired, marry one another.