I come from within the non-dating Christian community. I never actually read any of the too-well-known books on the topic: i.e. I Kissed Dating Goodbye or Before You Meet Prince Charming. To be honest, I had no real interest in the topic and occasionally found that I suddenly needed to go help out in the nursery whenever a visiting preacher decided to tackle the topic of BGRs (boy-girl relationships) in my youth group, because, man, those sermons were kind of miserable.
And yet, I agree with the overall principle of such teachings, though they tend to be incomplete (one of their flaws is tackled here). I am glad I didn't date before being courted by my husband. I treasure the fact that he was my first love. To me, he's worth it.
Yet I've noticed something that saddens me among the young women from the non-dating movement. Many of these young ladies are open about their desire to be married and to raise a family, and they've also committed to not getting involved in casual romantic entanglements, both of which are well and good--but what I've noticed is that years are going by and youth is fading while women now in their upper 20s and 30s and beyond are still longing for a husband but don't appear to be any closer to having a prospective spouse than they were a decade ago.
I'm not talking here about those who don't want to get married. They're good. If you aren't married and you don't want to be, I'd say that situation lends itself easily to contentment. I can't relate to that sentiment myself...when I was 16 I swore I'd never get married but it didn't take me long to change my mind.
What concerns me right now is those women who long for families of their own, yet may not even realize that some of their own actions may be thwarting the desires of their hearts. I've noticed that ladies who have committed to waiting on God to "write their love story" can often be susceptible to a few bad habits that might be to blame for an excessively long waiting period. Here are a few of those:
1. Being downright unfriendly to the opposite gender.
Often, in a desire to avoid leading anyone on via flirtation, women simply won't make friends at all with men. But friendliness is not inherently flirtatious. A smile, a kind word, an invitation to a Christmas party--that kind of stuff goes a long way. It's long-held wisdom that most good marriages start from friendships--if having only female friends is one of your standards, it might be time to rethink that standard. If all of your social events are "girls only"--that's not conducive to building healthy relationships with the kind of friends you might marry.
2. Dressing unattractively.
If you want to marry a boy, it's best not to dress like one. I know, because I wore jeans and unisex tees all through high school--I have the lack of a figure which means I resemble a boy when I dress like that, so I don't anymore (although at times I imagined being the heroine of a book where I had to disguise myself as a boy to survive some sort of terrible disaster...I'm still keeping that option in the back of my mind for future reference). Yes, yes, yes. Men SHOULD appreciate our minds and personalities and not our looks...but they don't always do that, do they?
3. Refusing to have private conversations with men.
Now, I'm not recommending here that you go park in the seminary parking lot at 11 at night to have a chat with your friend...but there's nothing inherently wrong with talking to a man. Chat with them at school, work, church, on the phone--because how in the world do you expect them to appreciate your brains and personality over your looks when you refuse to talk with them unless your father or a group of friends are present? Some might not believe this, but there is actually no law in the Bible against talking to guys. Here's some advice: You are an adult human being. You have control over your actions. You will not, suddenly, against your own will, find yourself falling head over heels in love with a boy or compromising your own convictions if you talk on the phone to a boy, even if no one else is listening in on your phone call. Trust me, I've tried it. You may rack up a lot of minutes on your cell phone bill if the boy is really fun to talk to, but I suppose that's a risk you'll have to take.
4. Lack of demonstrating practical spousal skills.
I'm not that old-fashioned. I appreciate a husband who can cook and clean as well as I appreciate a wife who can too. This isn't about gender roles, this is about maturity and generosity and skillfulness, traits needed in a spouse. I consider myself a good cook--at least for someone who is too lazy to use recipes. In college, I regularly brought cookies or fried noodles or muffins to get-togethers with friends. When I walked into a friend's apartment and saw dirty dishes all over the kitchen, I'd start washing their dishes. Giving away food and helping people out with unpleasant chores are attractive traits--DO attractive things.
5. Saying "no" all the time.
There are times to say "no." And family first, I get that. And work, and homework, and church commitments. There's a lot of different priorities in life--but there's still value in just being the kind of person who finds a way to say "yes!" when they can. During my freshman year of college Angel often called me to go hang out with him. I didn't like his idea of hanging out--to me it looked a lot like dating without even dating, so I'd propose alternatives to his ideas rather than just refuse him. He'd ask if I wanted to go out to see a movie with him, and I said, "Hey, actually, my cousins are sleeping over tonight, you wanna come and play dominoes with us?" [and that's how my cousins famously met my future husband]. He'd ask if I wanted to go get Mexican food with him and I'd tell him to bring it over to my grandparents' house and we could play checkers after we ate [I was a riot, can't you tell?].
6. Being too picky.
I've noticed a trend among women who are waiting for God to write their love story: an idea that since the Creator of the universe is in charge of coming up with their perfect spouse, there will be grand spiritual fireworks when they meet him and he will be amazing and there will never be a doubt in their mind that this is it. Now, I'll admit, I was never cut out for romance, so maybe my experience is unusual, but sometimes the guy for you is just a normal guy and the two of you kind of simultaneously decide that getting married both sounds like a lot of fun and is a logically wise choice, and your parents agree. The fact is, the whole "soulmate" idea is not Scriptural. Marrying someone who shares your beliefs is Scriptural. Marrying a guy who isn't a loser (including but not limited to: liars, weasels, and pigs) is wise and will make your life much easier--but beyond that, there's actually a lot of flexibility. Marriage isn't the rocket science you heard about in that cliched proverb.
The point of all this is: the way I see it, choosing not to date casually doesn't doom you to a life of hanging out with your girlfriends waiting for the perfect man to show up. There are things every woman can do to make marriage a more likely outcome of her lifestyle.
What's your opinion on the matter of finding a mate?