Thanks for writing. This question comes frequently, both in a church setting like yours, as well as in the context of online dating sites. As nice as it is to have two men interested in you (especially as opposed to no men), it quickly becomes complicated and is often marked by guilt and anxiety. The anxiety comes, I believe, from worrying that you’ll have to choose one over the other, inevitably hurting someone’s feelings, as well as risking choosing wrongly, thereby missing out on the “right” one. The guilt may be your conscience speaking; it’s a voice worth heeding.
While it’s possible to consider two men at once, it’s not advisable for the reasons you’ve already raised: It’s difficult to do it in a way that’s honoring to them, which dings your reputation and leaves you feeling guilty. But I may be getting ahead of the facts.
You’ve said it might be too early in the relationships to have to choose, and I suspect you’re right. Rarely does it happen that two men pursue with equal interest and intentionality, stirring in a woman an equal response and potential for love and marriage. What’s more likely is that as you get to know these men as friends, one will emerge as the man you’re more drawn to (or possibly you’ll realize neither is a good fit for marriage). Though it may come to disappointing one by choosing the other, that is the nature of settling down. Marriage means saying “yes” to one man for life and “no” to all the rest.
As you’re finding, it complicates things to try and grow in friendship toward marriage with two men at one time. You make the work of discerning a man’s character and commitment to Christ more difficult by entertaining the possibility of two men at once. I believe wisdom involves focusing on one man at a time.
When Steve and I were growing in friendship, along with a great group of other singles in our graduate school program, I knew it would be impossible to move forward in our relationship (past friendship) until, and unless, he considered what we had together apart from all the other possibilities. He says it this way, “Like a good photographer who knows how to zoom-in on one detail, I had to choose to zoom-in on Candice — to the exclusion of all the other women in the room — in order to know what our potential was as a couple.” Until he made that decision, even though our friendship was growing, it never could move past friendship because there were always other distractions.
How then should you go forward with these two men?
Relate to them as brothers.
What does your going out with them look like? If you’re thinking of having dinner with guy A on Friday, telling him you love him, and kissing him passionately before saying goodnight, and then doing all that again with guy B on Saturday, I’d say you’re in for a heap of trouble. But I’m guessing that’s not what you’re thinking. Remember that before they’re a potential husband, they’re your brother in Christ. Relate to them that way, and you’ll save yourself (and them) a lot of heartache and sorrow.
Mind your thoughts.
Resist the temptation to race ahead of where you are in fact, with where you imagine you could be in theory. We’re prone to anxiety over things that never happen. I think that’s one reason God tells us not to worry about tomorrow. We can waste a lot of time trying to solve problems that never materialize. Don’t fret about what may happen; instead, enjoy what is happening today. Pray for wisdom for what’s right in front of you and take things as they come (not as you imagine they will).
Don’t say anything to one that you wouldn’t say in the presence of the other. If you find yourself wanting to confide in one to the exclusion of the other, that’s a good sign that it’s time to choose. What you mustn’t do is play the double-agent. That will ruin your reputation — and rightly so. Integrity will guard you (Proverbs 10:9, 11:3).
This is, I believe, the most practical point of advice. Flirting is the tip of the iceberg to the world of sensuality. It is a tease that suggests there’s much more to be had. And flirting with more than one man at a time is a fast track to jealousy, envy, and all sorts of trouble and sin. Relate to each man — when all together, as well as when it’s one-on-one — in an honorable way. How can you know if you’re being honorable? Simply ask, Would I act this way if we were in a group? Would I be treating him this way if the other man were here with us? If your answer is no, then you’re not being “above reproach.” Flirting is defined as “playfully amorous behavior.” And amorous is “showing or feeling sexual desire.” Flirting may be fun, at least in the beginning, but it’s fleshly, not spiritual. It goes with seduction, not wisdom and righteousness (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:8-10).
Trust God’s sovereignty.
We can be so focused on finding “the one,” and worried that we’ll miss him, that we fail to pay attention to the one right in front of us. What opportunities is God giving you to get to know these men? Make the most of them. And rest in the Lord. You can trust God with your love life. He is Sovereign over His children, down to the very number of hairs on their heads and the length of days in their lives. Ask Him for wisdom and trust Him to guide you. Then, as He does, be a good steward of that wisdom and those opportunities.
All of this boils down to the law of love (Matthew 22:36-40). Treat each of your brothers — these two, as well as all the rest — the way you want to be treated. Consider them more highly than yourself. Respect them and their dignity. Recognize their worth as men made in the image of God. Be kind. Enjoy who God made them to be. Encourage them toward holiness. Relate to them as brothers and friends, not lovers or husbands. Until you’re married to one man, you’re not married. Keeping that obvious, but overlooked, reality in mind is a great guide.
May God grant you wisdom as you seek Him.
Copyright 2013 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.