If I'm straightforward with a woman, why isn't she the same with me?

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If I'm straightforward with a woman, why isn't she the same with me?

Jan 31, 2011 |John Thomas
Question

I’ve done my best to play by the rules in terms of intentionality and avoiding passivity. My question is what to do when the woman doesn’t do likewise.

I was pursuing a young woman from my fellowship group earlier this year. I was very up-front and intentional with her from the start, making sure she never had to “guess” or “assume” what my feelings were. It was crystal clear that I was asking her on a date and not merely to hang out as friends. She agreed to the date, and it went well. Conversation was never lacking, and we got along great.

As time went on, things continued in — what I thought — was a positive direction. Our conversations were meaningful; her body language was affirming, and she even left encouraging messages on my Facebook wall (for what that’s worth).

After all this, I’ve recently discovered through a friend that this woman is not romantically interested in me and, in fact, does not even enjoy my company. This came as a surprise to me, and I gave her the benefit of the doubt. But after talking to her about it, it turns out that this is true.

I am certainly not angry that the girl isn’t interested in me, because I understand that not everybody is God’s match for me. But I do find myself a little frustrated that it went on so long without any negative indications of her interest. I was very straightforward, honest and intentional with her. I don’t know why she couldn’t have done the same.

What should I do in the future to make sure we’re both on the same page and avoid this from happening again? Or is it just one of the unavoidable risks of being a man?

Answer

This is a great issue to talk about, because sometimes the math doesn’t add up even when you think it should. What then?

First, you did it right. Any person in your position would have been just as surprised to find out she didn’t enjoy your company.

Short of reading someone’s mind, you only have her words and actions about which to make judgments. Beyond that, of course, believers have the Holy Spirit who might give us discernment one way or another, which is crucial. But if the “natural” indications are positive, and you sense no negative “supernatural” impressions, your assumptions were logical.

Second, in spite of our copious amounts of helpful research on human behavior, we need a reminder that relationships are not a perfect science because we are a fallen people. Our depravity is total, and our sanctification is a process.

There are plenty of things we can predict about human behavior, but a lot we can’t. We people are so complicated that we don’t even understand our own heart at times. One day everything makes sense, and the next day the fog rolls in and all seems confusing, and a few days later the sun comes out again.

God is at work healing and transforming and redeeming those of us who know Him, and hopefully we’re responding more and more like Christ as the days and years roll by. But a proper view of creation helps us understand that we live right next door to brokenness. Some things only make sense when viewed through that lens.

Third, because of our condition, yes, relationships always involve risk. We should always take necessary and important steps to reduce the risk, but some amount of risk will always be present at all stages of any relationship, whether budding or mature.

But we shouldn’t let the risk jade us. We are made for relationship, and we’re much worse off avoiding heart connection. To wall ourselves in runs counter to our God-made design. Loneliness and isolation costs a much greater price than loving and losing. God made us for himself and blessed us with the capacity for depth with others. That journey is fraught with snares and dangers and all sorts of challenges, but worth it all to discover the satisfaction of fulfilling our design, for God and others.

Fourth, be careful not to overanalyze. It would be easy in a situation like yours to replay every move in detail over and over in your mind, trying to find that one word, that one text that caused everything to crash.

It’s rare that a relationship that has real promise can be derailed over one small thing. In fact, a relationship that has promise usually survives many small things and a good number of big things, too. Yes, some analysis is good in any experience because we want to learn all we can from it and let God use it for our good, but do it and move on.

Fifth and finally, guard yourself from bitterness, against God and her. God lets people make their own choices, and He strengthens us when the negative effects of those choices ripple out to us. He ultimately uses them for His glory and our good. And that is how we have hope in the trying. The beauty of God is that He takes all things, including and especially relationships that didn’t go as we had hoped, and ultimately brings glory to himself and good to His child.

I can’t explain why she acted the way she acted. I am just as surprised as you are at the outcome. There isn’t anything you could have done to change the decisions she made. For all we know, in His sovereignty, God could have protected you from something He saw, but you didn’t. Maybe time will shed more light on it, but whatever the case, you can absolutely trust His good for you and for her.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2011 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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