I am contacting you from Oxford in the U.K. Recently I met a girl whom I used to go to church with when I lived back home. Neither of us live at home now — in fact she lives three hours away from me.
We met up when she happened to be visiting Oxford. We really enjoyed each other's company, so at the end of our meeting, I thought I would take the lead. I emailed her and put it out there that I thought there was potentially more than friendship.
She replied and said she would like to get to know me better — but added she had recently in the past few months come out of a relationship where engagement was very close but didn't happen as the guy changed his mind.
We agreed to meet the following two weekends and both said we could see it being more than friendship — and that we would both pray about it.
A couple of weeks later (we had both been away leading Christian camps) we had a phone chat, and she said she was not in the right place for a relationship — partly because of getting over her previous relationship — but also added she was enjoying singleness. We agreed to still be friends and keep in touch, but like I said, we live quite a distance away anyway.
I also think she would prefer not to meet up for a while so she does not give off the wrong impression. (She said she was quite busy when I recently suggested meeting.)
I am still keen to pursue her — and wait until she's in the right place for a relationship — but how do you show a girl you care and are still interested without pushing it too much? Especially when you live three hours away?
I think you've done a good job of being honest about where you stand without being pushy, and that's the best policy.
That she agreed to spend some time together for a couple of weekends shows she was at least willing to explore the potential for a relationship. I think that time together and some reflective prayer has served its purpose for now.
She is carefully guarding her heart after her previous relationship, which we can all appreciate. She has some things to sort out. That's OK. I'd give her some time to do that.
As for you, just continue to be open and honest about what you're thinking and feeling. You've thought about it. You've prayed about it. You know where your heart is. Now might be a good time to get it down on paper in the form of a letter to her, including what it is about her that has helped bring you to this place. Let her know you appreciate her need for some time and space and that you'll honor that (as long as she promises not to perceive it as disinterest on your part!).
Tell her how much you appreciate the open and honest communication she's given you about her feelings, and to please keep doing so. Keep the offer open to spend some time together if and when she'd be interested, and that you'd be glad to be the one doing the traveling. I'd send her the letter and then follow up in a couple of weeks with a simple email if you haven't heard from her.
As for how long to let the relationship remain at this stage without forward movement is hard to say. Some of that has to do with your willingness to be patient, which has much to do with how strongly you feel about the whole thing. I'll leave that up to you, but I wouldn't stretch this out for months on end.
I'd say within a few months you both should know whether this is going to go anywhere for now. If by then she's had no change of heart, I'd advise letting yourself be open to other possibilities God might have for you (she of course would need to know of your decision).
Which brings me to my final point, which you know, but I'll remind you anyway.
Don't feel like the whole thing hinges on your doing everything exactly right. The most important thing in determining the outcome of this or any relationship is not whether you send too many or too few emails to her. The most critical thing is how much you lean into God in the next few months.
"The heart of a man plans his way," Proverbs says, "but the Lord establishes his steps." "Seek first kingdom of God and His righteousness," Jesus says, "and all these things will be added unto you." "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding," says another Proverb, "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
Those are reminders to us that we have God guiding us as our Senior Partner in all things, including our pursuit of a mate. They are reminders that if we keep things in the right order — God's heart first, everything else afterwards — we can trust a sovereign God to bring about His desired outcome. And if we've been leaning into Him, it will be our desired outcome as well.
This God is thrilled and excited about the plans He has for you because they are so incredibly good. They are plans that will glorify Him and satisfy you beyond anything you could ask or think. There is no better Helper to have as you walk this path in the coming weeks.
We'd love to hear how it goes. Keep us posted.
Copyright 2009 John Thomas. All rights reserved.