The paradox at the heart of Andy Stanley's book, The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating, is this: Instead of obsessively looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, it's best to concentrate on "becoming the right person," which will help prepare you for a successful, long-term relationship.
In fact, Stanley writes, the idea that "there's a right person for you, and once you find your right person, everything will be alright" is a myth. Being attracted to someone is easy; building a relationship is not, says the well-known pastor and author.
Sexual attraction is not the litmus test for a good relationship. In fact, it can mask problems. Stanley compares romance to a fog that keeps couples from seeing clearly.
"Sex distorts positive and negative traits in a partner," he writes. "Men and women exaggerate the good and turn a blind eye to the things that would normally give them pause."
Instead, Stanley asks singles to reflect on this question: "Are you the person whom the person you're looking for is looking for?" Becoming the right person prepares you for a successful relationship when the right person comes along, Stanley suggests. So he intentionally didn't write a book about building healthy relationships, but rather about building a healthier you.
"The healthier you are, the healthier your relationships will be," he writes. "Truth is, your relationships will never be any healthier than you."
Stanley urges men to do three things:
- Stop listening to music that degrades women;
- Avoid erotic images; and
- Take a year off from dating if you have been sexually promiscuous or have a porn addiction to break bad habits and begin healthy ones.
He warns men and women that a string of sexual relationships outside of marriage can make it more difficult to find sexual fulfillment later in life.
"Your sexual experiences before marriage may enhance your sexual experience once you're married, but they won't enhance your relationship," Stanley writes. "Just the opposite. Romance is fueled by exclusivity, not experience. Sex is not like learning to play the violin. If you want to learn to play the violin, you'll need lessons and a lot of practice. People have been figuring out sex on their own for millenniums."