- Paperback: 160pgs
- Publisher: New Growth Press (March 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1935273809
Thanks to New Growth Press for providing this review copy!
Chuck Milian is the senior pastor at Crossroads Fellowship in Raleigh, NC. Prior to that he also served as a singles pastor and executive pastor and was president of a singles ministry called SOLO, Inc. In other words, he is very well equipped to offer seasoned advice on dating to singles of all ages.
“We’re Just Friends” is oriented around Milian’s Five Dating Levels which are:
- Level One: Dating for Something to Do
- Level Two: Dating Because It’s You
- Level Three: Dating with a Future in View
- Level Four: Dating and Engaged to You
- Level Five: Dating after Saying I Do
If you are like me, then you’ve achieved Level Five and for the most part a book like this is a retrospective. After reading it, I wish this had been among the books I read early on in college. My mom sent me many great books, and maybe there is some overlap between the material in this one and some of those. But, as of now, if I had to recommend one dating book to a high school/college student/single person, it would probably be this one.
Part of this is because I like how Milian structures the levels of dating. What is traditionally thought of as a date is really Level Two, whereas Level One is mostly group dating. Level Two is a split between one on one and group dates, whereas Level Three is what most people mean when they say two people are “dating.” Milian uses the concept of a “Truth Triangle” to help differentiate between thoughts, feelings, and actions that compromise how we relate to one another. In his view, and rightly so, the three need to remain balanced and with good boundaries so that our thoughts are accurately reflected by our actions. I can see now for me personally that sometimes, probably typical of guys, I did things in my dating relationships that were not necessarily flowing from sound thinking or feelings (you can probably guess what I mean by this if you’re a guy).
While progressing through each level, Milian dismantles several lies (18 to be specific) that are commonly believed in reference to dating. The content of the book is mainly aimed at replacing these lies with the truth of the matter. This way, each level is explained for what it is, and the corresponding lies are dismantled and every thing fits together rather seamlessly. To explain the levels, Milian uses the analogy of visiting a five story mall, and keeps returning to, and fleshing out this analogy each time a new level is brought under discussion.
In that light, you could positively frame this book as an exposition of the five levels of healthy dating, or as the title suggests, a negative frame would focus on undermining lies single people believe. I can see why the publisher chose the latter, because if it is just framed as the former, people like me might not really take an interest in it. I mean at this point, what do I care about dating? Granted, there is a chapter on healthy dating after you’re married, but that’s only a fraction of the book. Framing the book around the lies though means that even as a married person, I could have believed some of these lies and may perpetuate them to people I counsel who aren’t married yet and are still navigating the dating waters.
That, I think makes this book a valuable resource to everyone from young people who are just jumping into dating to older married couples who now have teenagers making said jump. You may well have worked your way through the minefields in dating with some of these lies in tact and may now even have a very healthy marriage. But if you still hold onto some of these misconceptions, they’ll make for bad advice to pass on to younger minds.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Ok, so what are these pernicious lies? You’ve certainly talked them up enough.” Well I’m glad you asked. The lies that Milian works through, one per chapter, are:
- Love just happens; you can’t control it
- If it feels like love, it must be love
- Think of every date as a potential mate
- If you’re single you’re incomplete
- Your significant other can and should meet all your needs
- I must be a loser because I’m not in a relationship
- There are no rules in dating; it’s all about romance
- Just dive-in; it’s better to discuss expectations later
- All the “good ones” are already taken
- Wait for them to say it first, if you ask, you’ll scare them off
- I’ll never understand what causes my relationships to blow up
- All you need is love
- Love at first sight is “real” love
- You’ll “just know” when it’s time to get married
- We’re engaged so sex is okay
- We’re perfect for each other because we never argue
- Sex is like hunger: you have to feed it
- Once you’re married, the dating and the fun are over
Just to be clear for all you skimmers, these are the lies Milian debunks in one way or another, not his claims about how dating works. Some of these seems pretty straightforward and some of us may question who would be naive enough to believe some of them. Others need a little more qualification to unpack. In both cases, Milian works through the issues, offers seasoned advice, and provides a clear and concise road map for moving through the dating levels. If you are looking for a great book on dating, I would highly recommend this one as a starting point. Other books will have more to add, but the framework that Milian provides for levels, which he also correlates to the scientific data on how human bonding work, makes for a great mental grid to filter other advice through.