Dating Well: Part Two

We’re fasting and praying for marriages for those who want to be married, for courage for men to walk upright and into relationship, and for courage for women (us) to be able to change where we need to change.

After Heidi’s fabulous practical post last week on dating, I received numerous comments from friends along the lines of “Well, that’s great if someone is asking you out…but no one is asking me out!”  So I wanted to add a few extra thoughts into the conversation about dating well.  Some of them come out of my own experience (the good, the bad and the ugly) and some out of conversations with friends and mentors.

If no one is asking me out, I can still be doing things to date well.
Even if no one is pursuing me right now, I can still be implementing some of Heidi’s advice. On one hand, I can practice living with an open, gracious heart instead of hiding behind emotional walls and negativity.  On the other hand, I can steward my feminine ability to build relationships by being careful about where I invest that ability.  And I can be looking to encourage the men in my life, even if they aren’t dating prospects.

Don’t ignore your heart.
Sometimes it’s a close guy friend who spends more and more time with you but never actually asks you out.  Sometimes it’s a guy you know isn’t a believer, but otherwise seems so perfect.  In any case, it’s easy to start rationalizing: “Well, it’s just coffee.”  “It’s just a phone call.”  “We just have good conversation.”  Obviously every situation is different and requires godly discernment and grace, but don’t ignore your gut instincts and start trying to find short cuts.  This is also where Heidi’s advice to “have an audience” (in essence: be open with a few close friends about your dating life) comes in handy — even if you’re tempted to rationalize, trusted friends probably won’t let you.

Live your life forward, no matter how many dates seem to be on the horizon.
Even when that girl has a date and you don’t, you are not less loved or less valued or less beautiful or less worthy in your heavenly Father’s eyes.  Whenever my emotions are invested in my dating drama (or lack thereof), there is perpetual disappointment.  My hope has to be grounded God’s character and plans for me, not in my value as measured by number of dates.  Sometimes I also reread a few articles that help reset my perspective: Single While Active, Seven Myths Single Women Believe, and Object of My Affection.

Then I do a heart check: “Are the things that I hope will characterize my married life characterizing my life right now?  Am I giving my roommate or family the same level of grace, forgiveness, and sacrificial service I imagine I will give my future spouse?  Am I valuing today as the precious gift it is and not waiting for “real life” to start when I get married?  Am I glorifying God with the opportunities and gifts and skills I have right now, regardless of what the next chapter holds?”  When I can answer those questions positively, the number of dates on my calendar is suddenly a much less vexing concern.

In His Grace,

Amy

PS: Two recent sermons on issues around sexuality caught our eye and we wanted to share them:

David Hanke, the pastor of Restoration Anglican Church in Arlington, VA, preached a great sermon on sexuality a few weeks ago.  Focusing initially on the experience of the Christians in Pergamum, he ends up hitting on lies and truth about sexuality (and he gets very specific in terms of pornography, fantasy, and self-sacrifice).  It’s definitely worth listening to–honest, practical and true.

Harvest, the young adults ministry of McLean Presbyterian Church, has been going through Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.  Pastor James Forsyth uses the verses on lust as a starting point for a more in-depth look at how sexual sin (or inordinate desire generally) is a problem for everyone, regardless of age, gender or marital status.  He also discusses the true purpose of human sexuality and how Christ calls us to be radical in dealing with sexual sin.

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6 Responses to Dating Well: Part Two

  1. Jen says:

    I’m so glad you included Boundless articles in this post! :)

  2. Andrea says:

    I would add that cultivating “deal flow” not just with single men but with *everyone* brings us more joy in the present and more opportunities for reaching our goals in the future. Whoever God places in your path, say yes to them unless there is a good reason to say no. In my case, one day at the church coffee hour I found myself standing next to a young woman who was new in town. We chatted, and then over the next couple of years we would occasionally get together for dinner. If I had been thinking about getting a good date or even making a good friend, this would not have been a prime prospect, because she was 15 years younger and not especially compatible with me. What kind of contacts could she possibly have? But as it turned out, she knew a single guy my age. And as it turned out, this guy came to town and the two of them had lunch together. And as it turned out, she asked him if he would like to meet an available woman. And as it turned out, when she thought of who would be good for him, she thought of me. Sixteen months later the guy and I were married. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had not cultivated that friendship, and I marvel that God uses many insignificant circumstances to bring great blessings into our lives.

  3. Emma says:

    I loved the advice from last week regarding trying to make every date a positive encounter no matter what the outcome of the relationship is; it really helped me look forward to first dates more than I have been lately. However, when a man has truly wronged us and presented himself in a dishonest and manipulative fashion, what is something positive that we can draw from that? I recently met a man who was very flirtatious, touched my arm several times, told me how attractive he found me. We hit it off right away, talked for hours after first meeting, exchanged phone numbers and made plans to meet up over the weekend. In the interim, we exchanged several flirtatious text messages, and when we met up again, he…immediately informed me he had a long-term girlfriend and didn’t want me to get the wrong impression. How could I not have gotten the wrong impression? What is something positive I can draw from being deceived by a prospect about whom I was excited?

    • Katy says:

      I agree, whats the best way to handle situations like that? I try to end relationshps kindly…or even after a few dates, leave it where although there was no interest, I did not attack the man.

      But I often have had men in the past attack me or even make up reasons to get out of a relationship instead of just saying Im sorry, i dont see this going anywhere…. How do I handle interaction with these men when I run into them at events? or even worse, in the same church?

      • fast. pray. says:

        Yeah, that’s a tough one. Feelings are difficult for both men and women to manage on the dating scene. The best advice, which I know is probably lacking, is to be as kind to that man as you would be to any other acquaintance.

        You mention that you often have had men attack you (I presume verbally) to get out of a relationship–or they make up reasons (which happens all the time bc it is a hard conversation to have to tell someone that you just don’t see this going anywhere–all the more respect for folks who can kindly say that to others). Definitely pick up a copy of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus on a Date. Just such helpful stuff in there. It seems inexcusable to be verbally attacked by a man in order for him to end the relationship–I obviously don’t know the situations and do not want to excuse, condone, enable any verbal “attack” from anyone–if there is a pattern of this behavior, it might be worth examining the commonalities between the men you find yourself dating and see if there’s something you might think deeper about that might encourage you to try a different kind of guy–or maybe ask the question if there is something that you are inadvertently communicating that makes them react in what seems to be a very defensive manner.

        Hope that’s helpful–Heidi

    • fast. pray. says:

      Interesting question and definitely agree, how could you not have gotten the wrong impression! Thankfully you were spared from any more time and attention from this man. I think that is one positive thing. I know this is a hurtful situation and disappointing. Obviously, with a long-term girlfriend, this man shouldn’t have given such attention. Sounds like he has some things to work through. I don’t know why he agreed to get together again, but he was upfront at the beginning of that encounter–that’s also a positive.

      As far as the “leave things better than you found them” them, “leave” is the operative word here! But it may be worth a conversation with this gentleman to clarify that in fact, you had gotten the wrong impression and here’s why. If you are able to process the disappointment elsewhere and not angrily approach the Flirter there is an opportunity to have a conversation that affirms the fact that 1) you found him interesting 2) you’re glad he came clean 3) you’re disappointed for x, y, z reasons and 4) you want him to know that his actions communicate affection so he can avoid disappointing someone else.

      To be clear, I don’t think that you have an obligation to have this conversation, and if you are extremely angry or find that this experience taps deeper disappointment/anger than this one encounter might warrant, it may be best to just move on and leave the situation alone. If, however, you are able to acknowledge the disappointment but dispassionately step back and kindly confront what happened in such a way that leaves him feeling chastened perhaps but ultimately respectful of and respected by her honesty–it could be a good ending that allows for a better other/new beginning.

      Hope this helps~
      Heidi

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