How are women to relate to men they're interested in?

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How are women to relate to men they're interested in?

Apr 02, 2012 |Candice Watters
Question

This week I received three different but related questions. The first is about relating to a guy you've met online.

I've been talking to a guy I met on a Christian dating site, and he lives a few states away. He's a business owner and active in politics. He emails about twice a week, and talks mostly about work and politics. Which is fine, except I'm getting bored. Should I ask deeper questions? Just go along as-is for a while? We did chat online one night — and that went really well. I just want him to drop it altogether or step it up. What do you think? (From what I can tell, his faith is solid.)

Next up is the guy you're going to meet on a blind date.

I'm going on a blind date this weekend. I'm pretty excited and nervous. I haven't been on a date in years, and I feel pretty clueless. My friend from church set me up with her brother-in-law. (Hooray for Christian community!) I've heard some great things about him, so I want to make a good impression. I've never dated a faithful guy before, so I'm not sure what he'll expect of me.
I'm basically afraid I'll want to lead. I know I'll be tempted to pay for myself or feel silly if he opens the door for me, but I also know that this is the kind of guy I've been waiting for — I just don't want to get in my own way! I also think I'll judge him off of my first impression of him. I'm definitely the type of girl you've written about on Boundless who is waiting for Mr. Perfect. I'm waiting for God to write my Hollywood love story. Lord, help me.
What should I keep in mind during the date? How can I let him lead? Do you know any good questions to ask for conversation starters? (I've talked with him on the phone a few times, so we've covered the basics so far.) Any advice would be awesome!

Third, and final, does where and how you meet necessarily change how you relate?

Is your advice different based on how two people meet? Sometimes you meet a guy (like at church), and there would appear to be one set of guidelines for that relationship. But when you meet a guy on a dating site, wouldn't there be different so-called rules?
Answer

These questions are all related — assuming all the men in question are believers and so are the women asking — because in Christ, we are brothers and sisters. First Timothy 5:1-2 says, "Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity." This is good advice for life in the body, both at church and in your daily dealings with fellow believers. If this man is in Christ, you should treat him like your brother.

What does that mean? If you have a brother or two at home, or grew up with brothers in your family, then you have an idea of what I'm talking about. There is (or should be) genuine affection between brothers and sisters, as well as the desire to see each other succeed in life, grow in faith, and walk humbly with God and other people. All the "one another passages" in the Bible that apply to brothers and sisters in Christ should derive much meaning from how brothers and sisters in individual families relate. Brothers and sisters are supposed to cheer one another on and live out a 1 Corinthians 13 love.

This is just the sort of relationship you should be cultivating with brothers in Christ, one of whom may have the potential to become your husband. When you relate to him this way, whether you meet him online, at church, through a friend, etc., the friendship has the potential to grow into something more. If it turns out that he becomes more, the time you treated him in a brotherly way will add to the health of your relationship. But if he doesn't, the relationship can end well without all the divorce-like ugliness that goes with breaking up when you've been acting like you're married.

Our culture says if you think a man might make a good husband, you should try him on that way: Treat him like a husband, right now, before you're married. If you think he'd make a good lover, you should treat him like a lover and sleep with him. If you think he'd make a good roommate, you should treat him like one by moving in with him. It can seem strange in our culture to say that a man you are interested in romantically should be to you like a brother, but that's because our culture is strange. Scripture shows us a better way. It teaches us to treat all men with absolute purity. That means we relate to older men as fathers and younger men as brothers. Until one of those men actually becomes your husband, that is. Then you get to relate to him as husband, lover and roommate, with all the joyous privileges that come with those job descriptions.

So what does that mean for you right now, in this new friendship begun online, with the potential to become more?

You're right that meeting someone online increases the possibility that you won't truly know who you're getting to know because you're missing some vital clues that come with casual, in-person observation. This is why it's essential to walk out this new friendship in the context of community. You need the help of your mom and dad, or pastor and his wife, or community group leaders — someone who is well-married and committed to your welfare and spiritual formation — helping you navigate this new relationship. Your new friend should be interacting not only with you, but also, sooner rather than later, with other vital people in your life.

In the same way that I'd encourage you to invite a new male friend over for a game night with your mentors, I'd suggest a Skype date that includes more than just the two of you. Other possibilities include asking your dad (if possible), or another godly man, to talk with him on the phone and possibly email him so that you're not the only one getting to know him. Someone you trust needs to be finding out about his intentions for you. This makes it much more likely that you'll get a true and well-rounded picture of who he is but also will almost certainly ensure that he's not toying with you. Any man who isn't intentionally seeking to find a wife (Proverbs 18:22) will probably run at the thought of these conversations. That's not a bad thing. It will save you from wasting time.

For the relationship that starts as a blind date, especially if it was set up at the suggestion of someone you trust, who knows both of you well, you're meeting on the basis of someone's helpful observation. In this case, the most pressing problem is the awkwardness of knowing that he knows that you know that someone you both know thinks you'd make a good couple. In this case, some good ice breakers can go a long way to ease the tension. If you can be light-hearted about being set up, all the better. Here's an idea to get you started:

Work together as sleuths to figure out what it is about the other that your mutual friend thought you'd have in common. Is it books? Church? Family background? Education? Hobbies? Talking through the possibilities, all the while looking for things in common, will help you solve the mystery and hopefully, in the process, grow more at ease with each other. The goal of a blind date should be to relax enough that you can both be yourselves and talk comfortably.

In all these new friendships with the potential to become romantic relationships, the key is to relate in all purity, considering the best interest of the other, praying for God's will, and making it a priority to find a mate who will lead in love and whom you respect enough to submit to as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5). Dating should be focused intentionally on the goal of godly marriage, with a little entertainment thrown in. Not the other way around.

May the Lord direct your steps,
CANDICE WATTERS

Copyright 2009 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

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