Just a reminder: 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. And as you pray, you might consider Heidi’s words on ‘dating.’ Heidi was an original fast.pray. contributor, but she’s rejoined us this week to share some thoughts on being a ‘good dater.’
Can you think of anyone that you would say is a “good dater”? Is a good dater someone who got married, or someone who has a lot of dates, or someone who has a series of long-term relationships with very little time “on the bench”? Whatever you think success looks like when it comes to good dating, for a moment, let’s set aside results as a measure of success and think through some elements of the process. Here are a few tips for women that I learned through my extensive years of dating.
Deal Flow: When investors look for companies to buy or products to invest in, they know they need to look at a LOT of deals in order to find one good one. They call this deal flow. An investor who wants a good rate of return on her investment does not grab the first bid sheet or business proposal someone pitches because she is afraid no one else will want her cash. A wise investor will develop a pipeline of deals to explore and do the necessary due diligence to determine if the deal is worth the investment. There are ways to develop deal flow in dating. Get online, be open to blind dates, smile at people and be open to conversations. There are advantages to deal flow as well. If you know you have 15 matches you find relatively interesting in your pipeline, you can resist the temptation to suffocate the first guy that shows up. You can be breezy and open-handed, not desperately afraid you have to make this deal work because it’s the only investment out there.
Be the Change-For years through Fasting and Praying we’ve encouraged you to pray for spouses for those who desire them, for the men of our generation to step into the role of husbands and for us to pray for God to change us where we need to be changed. It was this third prayer that had a transformative impact on my life through the years of fasting and praying. It was a dynamic process, meaning active, that I went through WHILE I was dating and the dating I did while God worked on me played a role in the change. I had some stuff to learn, some areas of my heart to open up and some points of pride that needed to be softened. As God worked his way in me, I was able to receive his gift in a man to me. Do pray for God to change you and then be a part of that change.
Be Open: Ok, I am not your mother when I say “Be Open”. But listen to this…I went out with a guy, and it was a perfectly fine date, by the way. But the guy told me over email a couple of days later (and I’m paraphrasing here) “I don’t like you, but I’d like to introduce you to my friend who might“. The sarcastic comic in me could have turned just that line into a good laugh with the girls about the latest ridiculous line in my dating drama. Because of my commitment to “being the change”, however, I was committed to being open. I knew I wanted to be married and I was committed to a road of no regret which meant I was open to using all the tools in the tool box to meet quality men. Because this guy was a quality guy (notable exception that he did not fall in love with me at first sight, of course), I was open and said “sure!”. In turn, I set him up with my friend and the four of us went out on a double-blind date. There’s more to the story, but I married the “friend who might“. Be open; you just never know.
Focus on the Positive: I had a few hangups about the man I married while we were dating. The hangups were not substantive things. He had all the things that were important and substantive and I was attracted to him, but I found myself focusing on his loud laugh, his pleated pants, and somewhat slow driving. An older and wiser friend challenged me to focus on the positive. This may have been the best advice anyone has ever given me in dating. You can re-merchandise your man, ladies, but his heart and character and whatever else is on your essentials list cannot be given a face-lift.
Good endings make good beginnings: I’m not a psychologist, but it is easier to begin a healthy relationship when the last relationship you had ended well. It is easier for you and it is easier for your (former) partner. Different people might have different definitions of what ending well means so let me discuss that next.
Leave things better than you found them: Build him up, whoever he is. Before I wrote this post, I asked a couple of friends to tell me about their thoughts on dating well. One told me she’d taken my advice to “leave things better than you found them”. Her words of her experience describe this point better than I can.
“… I decided that my main goal in all the first dates was to pay attention to the guy and think about making sure that he walked away feeling good/better about himself, regardless if I was attracted or not. It was a GREAT framework because: a) it took my focus off of ME and as a result I was literally less “self-conscious” which is always a good thing, and I think it is Godly; b) it put the whole experience in a POSITIVE light – regardless of whether I was attracted to him, what a great thing to put it entirely in the perspective of encouraging and uplifting someone else, instead of focusing on “what might I get out of this? – another date, a free meal, a boyfriend, maybe a husband” etc.; and c) it has “worked” in the sense that every guy I have gone out with has been pretty interested and asked me out again. I DO think that it has made the experiences more positive for me, AND probably for the men.”
Drop breadcrumbs: My husband could give great dating advice to men, but his advice to women was something akin to dropping breadcrumbs…in your conversations on dates, leave the guy with enough knowledge about you and your interests and maybe shared interests with him so that he knows enough to plan a good next date.
Have an audience: By audience, I really mean a caring one, two, several friends who are in this with you. I met with a group of women weekly who were differing ages and marital status. When I was excited about possibility, they celebrated with me. When I was devastated, they were in it with me. And they played a critical role in helping me “be the change” I referred to before. If you get the “deals” flowing, you’re going to have some stories. Laugh, cry, and hope–but do it with friends who can point you first and foremost to Jesus. Once you turn that date into a relationship that sticks around, you will need those friends equally as much!
Still in the Journey with My Friends~
P.S. If you are a reader, I do have to recommend two books I found helpful. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus on a Date by John Gray–probably most helpful resource to me. And secondly, How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Henry Cloud.