This is a followup to my blog that was posted on Boundless (Focus on The Family YA blog) a couple weeks ago. There were a lot of different opinions of it so I’m testing this one out with you, my personal readers before I get scrutinized by the thousands of Boundless readers again :) Any suggestions folks? thanks!
I stand corrected
I posted a blog a couple weeks ago, telling of the pressures that some of us guys feel as we consider asking a girl out. I said that sometimes we assume that, to the girl, getting coffee is never just getting coffee. We are afraid that in her mind it means we have begun the very serious process of dating toward marriage. And that’s a lot of pressure.
Since then several of my guy friends have messaged me, or leaned in close after church to whisper something like, “I’m glad you said it because I was thinking the exact same thing.” And although there were some girls that also agreed or commiserated with me, most of the 175+ comments (mostly from girls) were frustrated that I had assumed what I did.
And I think they have reason. I realize now that I wrote it from a frustrated place myself, and it was these frustrations, the ones that some of us guys feel, that I wanted girls to understand. But their responses were also good because lots of ladies suggested that it was my assumptions that were unnecessarily causing my stress. They said that coffee really can be just coffee, and I was over thinking things.
But there were other girls who said that what I said was true– that they did start seriously evaluating the person as a potential marriage partner on a first date. And while I pondered this, I realized something incredibly ironic, that the reason I probably assumed this for all Christian women was because I tend to evaluate them for marriage on the first date. (Sorry, I need to work on that!) And the pressure I assumed was coming from both sides is what was completely psyching me out.
So, now that we’ve cleared that up a little, that brings us to a new challenge. How do I know where the woman is at on the commitment spectrum? Is she the type who thinks now we’re dating toward marriage, or just friends with potential?
So, as part of making this a productive conversation, here is the first of my three solutions (I’m a guy that likes actionable solutions):
Maybe, if we don’t already know where the other person stands, we should both humbly and vulnerably communicate our expectations.
I’ve tried to do this before and did it really poorly. And the girl got a bit defensive, but then we talked about it and in the end we were both better for it.
And this brings me to my next solution.
Make mistakes well
Even if dating is scary, if we never do it, we’ll never learn and we’ll never find our permanent mate. So my second solution is this.
Be willing to take the risk, jump in and try, understanding we’re both going to make mistakes and still forgive. (Shout out to commenters Virginia, Gladys, and Adina).
We must accept that we are going to be disappointed, and cause disappointments if we attempt relationships at all. Do you remember this fantastic quote (by my hero):
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” -C.S. Lewis, Four Loves
So when we do attempt love, and when we do hurt each other, we have an opportunity to engage the example and the power of the cross. It’s not okay to just keep being mean, but when we regretfully mess up we get to exhibit Jesus’ model of grace to each other. And assuming both people understand this takes a lot of pressure off.
I’m sorry for my assumptions, and my pressure, ladies. This is my effort to take the risk, write again, and try to do this better.
Hold ourself to our opposite sex standards
The last solution occurred to me after reading frustrations from both sides. Men and women both said that sometimes even when they were doing everything right, they couldn’t seem to find someone worth dating.
So, why is it so hard? I think for some of us being contentedly single is great. But if we do want to find someone, maybe part of it starts with something I’ve sensed in myself. Not too long ago I was sharing my woes about my dating life with a friend, and he asked me, “What value are you bringing to the relationship?”
I opened my mouth because I was sure there were multiple things, but nothing came out. I had not been working hard to be as attractive to women, as I expected them to be trying to be for me. I know. Incredibly egotistical. Again, ladies. I’m sorry. So here is my third solution:
We should hold ourselves to the same standard to which we hold the opposite sex (Kudos to Caitlin for her suggestion on this)
And as we try to work on ourselves, and see our own flaws, maybe we will gain more realistic eyes to really recognize how amazing our future spouse is when we see them.
And to me, right now at least, this seems a much better way for me to approach dating. Maybe the next time I’m interested in someone I’ll stumble through saying something like this:
“I know we’re both human, but I think you’re pretty great. I don’t want this to sound too serious or anything. But would you like to get some coffee with me?”
Raw Spoon, 8-6-16