I don't know why I am attempting such a thing as this. Maybe I'm a little bit crazy.
A good friend of mine asked me a few really big questions the other day about dating, guys, boundaries, and basically, why did it have to be such a mess?
Just weeks before that I was at a friends house with a bunch of other friends, a nice mix of guys and girls. The question came up, "What do you ladies dislike most about Christian men when it comes to dating?"
Now that I've thought about it, I can't help but remember having a bunch of group discussions where they all eventually diverge to that one hot topic: relationships.
I don't know everything, and I may be a little biased, but what I've gathered from the girls I know, there are a few basic points that we as ladies would love you as Christian men to know.
So, here is an open letter to all the Christian men who are interested in the pursuit of a dating relationship:
Dear Christian Men,
1. What happened to your courage?
What happened to your courage that would lead you to boldly ask a girl out on a date? Do you remember that era (It feels like it has been that long)? All we seem to remember these days are ambiguous coffee "dates" or casual hang outs. I know you want to get to know a girl, but can't you rather do that in a group environment that protects her heart from wondering about the unknown? Can't you find the courage to show that you are interested in getting to know her more, and clarify that through your words rather than just asking her to hang out one on one? You know that we are girls and that we over think almost everything. You can, of course, just expect us not to over think things, but the reality is you could easily clarify the situation to help us guard our hearts. I'm not taking away from the fact that we should definitely practise some self-control. The load isn't all on you, I promise.
I have heard of so many men asking ladies out for coffee without any clarification of intention. I'm not saying things need to be serious from the beginning and that you need to decide to be in a committed relationship headed toward marriage at that first coffee date, but I honestly don't think it would hurt if you simply said, "Hey, I think you're great, and I would really like to get to know you better."
Ladies, don't go crazy. Stop yourself from dreaming about your wedding and what your future children may look like. Stop. For real. Practise self-control and take your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
2. You are stronger than any intimidation.
Now trust me, I understand. There are a bunch of things that you might be intimidated by. You may be thinking, "What if this chick gets super serious really quickly?" You are not committed to a relationship by taking a girl out for coffee. That is not what you signed up for. And that is why clarifying your intentions can be so beneficial to all people involved. It enables you to defend your character and your motives, as well as to protect and guard her heart.
I'm sure the thought of rejection is intimidating also. Actually, I'm more than sure of it. And the reality is, being bold and taking a step out of your comfort zone means there is a bit of vulnerability. Rejection may happen. You may get "bat". But, you have immense worth despite that. You have such a vital role to play in this world, and only you can fulfil it. Do not let any rejection from any human being stop you from acting as the man God has created and called you to be. In the same way, you should never be afraid to tell a girl that you do not see your relationship moving toward a romantic relationship. You don't have to ignore her. You don't have to starting being slightly mean to send subliminal messages to her. You don't have to be afraid to lovingly express to her that you are simply not interested in continuing the pursuit of a relationship. If you've been prayerfully seeking God's voice, listening to what He is saying, honouring her by protecting her heart, then you are simply respecting her in another way by being up front and honest with her. This doesn't take away from her value or worth because it is God given. Do not allow intimidation to take away from the way you can honour her.
I've got to be honest, the men around me who have been up front, forward and honest with me have gained all of my respect. Mainly because I know they are more concerned about me than their pride. That always sets an example to me of how valued I am by them and God.
3. Be Intentional.
You may not be ready to ask her out on a date yet, but I think the best way to honour her as your sister in Christ is to put the two of you in healthy and safe environments that would give you the opportunity to get to know her without crossing any boundaries as more than her brother. Maybe don't speak to her all the time over social media or over text messages. Maybe it would be a good idea to refrain from flirting or showing her loads of attention if you aren't yet ready to make the small commitment of putting yourself out there and clarifying that you are interested in getting to know her more. Maybe ambiguous one on ones are more harmful to the both of you than you know.
I hate to say it, but Christian guys (I'm sorry for the generalisation) have been known to lead girls on, speaking to them on a regular basis, taking them out for coffee dates without clarifying if they had any intention or not, and then all of a sudden "dropping" girls - cutting off all communication, ignoring them, and so on. I know relationships aren't easy. I know it's difficult to figure out what you want, but you have the responsibility to take care of her heart.
That girl that you would like to get to know better? You get to model Christ through the way you pursue her. Protect her. Don't ask for her intimacy - physically, emotionally, or spiritually, until you are prepared to commit to her. And if you aren't sure you want to ask her on a date, I'm not sure if you are ready to make a genuine commitment.
"The reward of commitment is intimacy."
I've experienced so many guys and girls who have ended up confused and hurt because the other person didn't communicate their feelings or intentions well or at all. I've come across a lot of guys who thought they were doing the right thing by simply taking a girl to coffee, but she ended up reading it as just coffee, and after the third time he had asked her, she had to clarify that she was not interested in that way. He ended up really hurt, and it all could have been avoided.
I don't want that to happen to you or anyone else.
There are so many practical ways to honour yourself and her by being proactive and intentional with these types of situations. I know that all situations are different and bring their own difficulties, but I am 100 percent sure there are healthy and safe approaches to each and every one of those situations.
4. We need you to be a man of honour.
But more than anything I've already written, I want you to know this: We need you. You have been created to bear the image of God as a creator, a leader, and a protector. You have a wild side in you that God Himself gave you, furnished with the desire and ability to fight, conquer, and protect. More than anything, we need you to know the value that you possess. We need you to know that despite all the rejection you have faced, we need you as our brothers to come to our defence. We need you to love and honour us as your sisters in Christ and to reflect the value we have in the eyes of our Creator.
You have a role to play in this world that only you can fulfil. You are more than enough. You are more than capable. Be the man that you have been created to be. Rise to the occasion.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12
With the love of Jesus,
Your sister in Christ