I’ve heard women say that Christian guys are too selective or aren’t brave enough to ask them out. “It doesn’t have to be a big deal. If you’re interested just ask me to coffee!” Some of my friends have ended up dating non-Christian guys, and when I ask them about it, they say, “The Christian guys just weren’t asking me out, and I want to be married. What am I supposed to do?”
While I don’t have all the answers, I am here to represent what some of us guys are going through, so hopefully women can understand our plight and have a little grace on us. And maybe with a little more understanding of both sides we can come up with some helpful perspectives together.
The whole Christian dating system is difficult. Overall, the elevated level of commitment is still better than the low-commitment system the world has going on, but like anything outside of heaven, it’s got its challenges too. So first: women, please don’t give up on us Christian guys, or on Jesus, just because the Christianity in this world isn’t measuring up to heaven yet.
Coffee’s Always More than Coffee
And know that for some guys getting coffee doesn’t feel like “just” getting coffee. If it goes well, I’m often afraid the girl’s feelings and hopes may already be getting involved (or rather getting too involved). And as soon as we guys make a move, we feel like our clock has started ticking. Even after a few dates, some women want to know if we’re really in it or not – if we’re willing to commit to the next level. And suddenly the stakes have been raised. In Christian sub-culture it can seem like every man, at every point in the relationship, is supposed to know the answer to this one single question: “Are you pursuing her for marriage? Can you imagine her as your wife?”
In truth, sometimes even answering the question “Do you like her like that or not?” can be overwhelming when you’re just getting to know someone. I feel like if I express any ambiguity, the woman is uncomfortable and confused, and often she feels rejected. As good Christian guys, we can feel the pressure to allay those fears and feelings by knowing exactly what we want and jumping in with focus and certainty, but it’s not that easy.
Many women are probably saying, “No, you’re wrong! It’s just coffee!” But after a first date that goes pretty well do you find yourself asking questions like: “Does he like me? Will he call me again? When will he call me?” And then suddenly us guys feel the pressure to know, “Do I like her? Am I supposed to call her in a certain number of days? What if I don’t feel like it? Am I supposed to do it anyway!? I’m a Christian guy; if I hurt her does that mean I’m a bad Christian!? Ahh!”
The Never-Ending Search for Security
I’ve been as frustrated with not knowing these answers as you have. If I can’t make up my mind because I may not know a woman well enough or have enough information, I think there’s something wrong with me. I, and I imagine most men, feel this invisible pressure to know right away if we like a girl because her feelings are in the balance, and we can really psych ourselves out.
You know, I bet the secular dating world deals with this too. I think our human nature craves certainty because it gives us constancy, something we can rely on. But maybe we, as Christians, possess one pivotal game changer that should make us better at dating than the world – we have someone who can give us our security when all our doubts (in ourselves and others) are swirling around us.
An earthly spouse doesn’t guarantee the support we’re all longing for, and no amount of certainty on either part will fill this void. So as much as we may try to scrape together stability here on earth, only the marriage to our eternal husband gives us ultimate security.
In the process of pursuing you, I’m also probably sorting through a ton of emotional turmoil. On top of evaluating if I believe we are a good match, I’m constantly evaluating myself. As a Christian man I have my own issues and fears I’m working through. Am I able to commit to a flawed person for my whole life and still be good to her? Can I not get angry or impatient or mean with her? I don’t want to let her or God down. I don’t want to fail by being among the half of “Christians” who gets divorced. How do I not screw this up?
All that is a lot of pressure.
And since I’m handing out so much advice here, I’d like to hear from women what you think guys can work on, but first I’d like to make a request: Women, many of you are loving the Lord and doing big things with your lives, but for those who are struggling and continually find their emotional health dependent on the actions (and commitments) of men, take a second to check where you’re seeking your security. My feelings are as fickle as yours – probably more so. And odds are I’m not going to know after the first date, and maybe not even after the first six months, if you’re the one. Because we live in a complicated, fallen world.
Maybe by talking more about our struggles and questions we can address some of this stuff together, figure out how to honor each other and God better, and in the process make this world look a little more like heaven.
And maybe we both just need a little grace as we fumble through this together.
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