Have you ever been told that you’re too strong to date? Or, have you wondered why you’re successful in several areas of life, but, at the same time, dateless?
A couple of years ago I came across the post On Daughters and Dating: How to Intimidate Suitors by Jen Wilkin on The Gospel Coalition. Wilkin’s underlying message is for parents. She encourages them to raise their girls to be confident Christian women, which in turn easily and naturally helps them ward off unwanted attention and advances.
The whole piece is a well-written, thoughtful response to the machismo-laden, don’t-mess-with-my-little-girl-or-else “applications to date my daughter” posts that garnered a lot of attention and approval from conservative American dads.
Wilkin encourages girls, along with parental support, to “build a wall” — a Rapunzel-style wall of protection based on Song of Solomon 8:8-10 — to discourage a “slouchy pants” from attempting to pursue her, because “nothing [is] more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family.”
This kind of girl “intimidates them just fine on her own. Because you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness.”
I agree. In some ways, I am that girl.
I was raised by Christian parents who taught me to be secure in my identity, confident and not only aware of, but utilizing, my God-given talents and abilities for the kingdom of God. They trusted me to make wise choices in dating. I didn’t need a shotgun-toting dad to screen boys. I was, and am, strong.
And that strength shooed the boys away … even the good Christian boys.
Here’s the deal: I’m in my mid-30s and single. It’s not by choice, and it’s not what I ever envisioned for my life. I want (and have always wanted) to marry, have children, and work and minister within my home, church and neighborhood. But so far, none of the men in my circle have been interested and/or willing to scale the wall.
In the almost 15 years I’ve been back in my hometown after graduating from college, there have been a handful of good men to whom I would’ve enthusiastically said “yes” had they asked. Yet after some “flirting without follow through” on their part, none of them took the risk to define the relationship and pursue, despite lots of hints and nudges and responsiveness on my part. It’s not necessarily their fault…nor mine. It’s just a part of my story.
Wilkin writes that some Christian men will fail to see the benefits of confident Christian women because of a misinterpretation of what it means to “lead” in a relationship. This generates a loss on both sides. Women who are a “catch” are overlooked and may feel pressure to soften their God-honoring strengths to get noticed. Men miss out on the blessing of dating and marrying a woman whose identity isn’t wrapped up in a relationship, a man or even marriage, but is fixed on Jesus Christ.
This is where Wilkin writes the most incredible three lines of the article — the point I’ve gone back to time and time again:
Leadership is not about the strong looking for weaker people to lead. It’s about the humble looking for those whose strengths offset their weaknesses and complement their strengths. Strong leaders surround themselves with strong people, not weak ones.”
At the end of the day, I don’t know if it is my strength that has turned men off, or if it’s other parts of my personality, looks or character that disqualify me as dating material in their eyes. And that’s OK. I’m living my life to the fullest, working hard, pursing interests and genuinely having a good time. I’m not sitting at home on the weekends, wallowing over a lack of dates.
I’m also still hopeful for a “someday” when one good Christian man will ditch the idea of a soul mate (a perfect person who doesn’t exist) and find in me a “sole mate” – a teammate to “run the race” alongside. In other words, I want to date and marry someone who sees and agrees that we’re successful in offsetting weaknesses and complementing one another.
We’ll brick-by-brick build a wonderful new life together and join forces for King and kingdom…but first he has to scale my single girl wall.
Female readers: Have you ever been told that you’re intimidating or too strong to date? How have you responded? Male readers: Do you agree or disagree with my statements above? Do you feel intimidated by strong Christian women? How do you differentiate between godly strength and worldly bravado in the women you meet?