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21 October 2014

To Women Who Don't Date

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?

35 comments :

  1. I did date, but in a very choosy way! I decided early on, that (for me) dating was really only worth my time if I could see a forever future with that person. So while I didn't feel the need to get engaged on the first date, at any point in time if I didn't at least see the possibility of a future then I would break off the relationship. It was easy because I didn't want to waste my time or anybody else's. I usually broke up with guys pretty fast, lol! One thing that I did do that I strongly believe impacted my life was for many of my late teenage years (probably 16 and up) I prayed for my future spouse. I just prayed that God would bless Him and help him make the right decisions in his life, ones that would hopefully bring us together one day. We've been married for six years now and I still truly believe that those prayers made a difference.

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  2. This is my thoughts exactly! I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and all those other books in high school, but even then I saw some flaws in them. One of the biggest things I had to work through because of the mindset that book gave me was when I broke up with my first boyfriend (after only 1 month). I felt really disappointed because I had thought for all those years that my first boyfriend would be the one I marry. But now I am very happy with where I am at and can see that I learned some things that I wanted or didn't want through that first relationship.

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  3. Rachel, you totally nailed this. I definitely did date (too much, looking back), but I also read all the Christian dating/courting/don't date/never look at a man books going around at the time. I've also known many girls just like the ones you described. In the end, I came to the same conclusions as you. It's certainly wise to be choosy and careful and to guard your heart, but that also doesn't mean you need to hide yourself from men. I always wondered how women expected to find a husband when they refused to talk to anyone of the opposite sex.

    I love #6 and I think it's so important you mentioned it. I think most Christian girls expect a fairytale romance, and while it's important to have high standards, it tends to become an issue of unrealistic expectations.

    Also, I just noticed the "Prepare yourself" on your sidebar, and it's cracking me up.

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  4. Great list! I agree some people are just too picky!!!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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  5. #1 makes me sad because of that idea of "leading men on/being a tease" that women have to deal with. It definitely sucks when you think you're just having a light, friendly conversation with someone and they think you're flirting. You just have to find the men out there who DO understand social cues and make them your friends.

    I never dated in high school, and had one boyfriend during college. My first year in Korea was my first time out on the scene as a single woman, and it was kind of horrifying. I wasn't used to that kind of attention. I am kind of glad I never really "dated" - mostly because I can't fathom the idea of dating someone to get to know them; all of my relationships started from friendship.

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  6. I. LOVE. THIS. I think you should write a "dating" book that covers all of these topics. I definitely wish I could go back and un-date a few of the guys I dated, but not dating doesn't mean wearing a burlap sack and hiding around corners from all men you encounter. I always wondered how those girls/women expected to get married, too...I don't know many guys that suddenly have epiphanies about the "one" they're going to marry if she won't even talk to them.

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  7. I really liked reading this. And I agree with you in a lot of ways. I've been learning a lot lately what "waiting" really means in terms of our faith... I think all too often "waiting" for the right man is not doing anything about it...basically what you're saying. Waiting isn't doing nothing at all. Waiting is a period of doing. That doing just looks different for everyone.

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  8. My church friends and I read "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" in middle school. I just found it really unrealistic, especially since I knew most guys wouldn't share those values. Since I knew myself, I only dated people I could see myself marrying once I got to know them. This led me to my current husband.

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  9. In high school I was definitely a part of the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" movement and I have to say I'm totally against it now! In college I casually dated a few guys - not going beyond a date or a few dates because one or the other (or both) of us didn't see anything progressing. I also had one serious boyfriend before Nate - a guy I thought I was going to marry but now am SO thankful it didn't work out. I definitely was of the mindset that dating was only for marriage but it definitely didn't keep me from dating. :-)

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  10. I agree 100%! When I was first saved I had girls telling me I couldn't even ride in a car with a boy. Now I understand if this might lead you to sin, but it wasn't a personal conviction of mine. I think we can sometimes be way too legalistic!

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  11. YES. I've seen a few interesting articles on this issue and how it's proven to be harmful...but I love how yours gets to the point those articles don't address. It's brutally honest, but needed.

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  12. I love this post and the points you bring up! I am glad you bring up the whole "soulmate" thin not being in Scripture, which when I have mentioned to people they seem SO surprised...wait are we reading the same Bible??
    great post Rachel!

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  13. This is such a relevant and wonderful post, Rachel. I especially like your point about actually talking to guys. Haha! It seems so obvious that we should be comfortable talking to our brothers in Christ, but I think it is too often forgotten.

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  14. Totally agree!! I forget where I read it, probably Pinterest, but there's a quote that says "It takes an extremely bold man to fall in love with no encouragement." It really got me thinking...if I don't TALK to people, how in heck will they get to know me (and obviously, fall head over heels in love with me)? Duh, I know. But I honestly hadn't thought about it before.

    Same thing with crushes...I'm at the point where the whole 'ooohh! don't let your crush know!' think has me rolling my eyes. If you like someone, and want to date/marry someone, why would you not let them know??

    Anywho, great post!

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  15. I think that if a young couple and date and do it in a way that honors Jesus, working toward a goal of figuring out of they should be married, all is good. Great topic!!

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  16. I had 4 boyfriends before I met Scott and only two of those I saw as serious relationships. I think, outside of that, I'd gone on 2 dates with other guys, so I was pretty picky for being 20 years old. I often didn't even say, "Yes" to a date unless I was truly attracted to both looks and personality. Why waste the time? However, while marriage was the "end game", I had no idea when or if I'd get married. So people just don't find their person. So I do understand the "saying no" all the time but if you refuse to make friends with guys or put yourself out there socially, you can't expect much in return. (I was the one who asked Scott out.)
    I agree with Angi: you're a well-spoken, logical authority on this subject!

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  17. I really agree with your last comment about being picky! I've noticed that a lot of women seem to expect perfection in their future spouse, but it's not like they're perfect themselves! I really like what Oprah says about working on improving and completing yourself before you try to find a man to complete you.

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  18. I believe these are all great advice - I couldn't do number 5 since I always LOVED dating. I find it more fun to learn about someone in an intimate setting. I also don't have the wonderful together family you have so bringing him too early would've actually been counter-productive. :) I especially agree that women are too picky, it's good to have standards but sometimes it's like they have a checklist and they ought to be more open. Great tips though for young women out there. Have a great one Rachel! -Iva

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  19. i've seen #6 happen frequently, and i'm probably to blame for that one, too. i told jon we weren't 'the perfect match' the first time we met, and then i didn't see him again or 8 months. when we ran into each other (on accident) the following summer, i let my heart lead (and forgot about the visions of perfection in my head). thank goodness!

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  20. That's interesting because our religion encourages dating. Our church leaders admonish the young adults for just "hanging out" rather than going on actual dates to find the ones we want to marry.

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  21. I just published a comment and it totally disappeared on me. Here's my second try- hopefully it doesn't show up multiple times and spam your wall:

    I like #1 a LOT. I first got to know my husband when he was new in town and I invited him to hang out with some of my friends. If I had sat back and waited for him to "make the first move" I might not have ever had that chance!

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  22. I love your thoughts Rachel! I have a few single friends who are really putting themselves out there (in a good way), just being their fun selves but in a way that you know they would like to get married sometime and then I have friends who want to get married but since it's taking awhile they are acting like they don't, totally doing some of the things you mentioned, like being rude to the opposite gender and only hanging out with girls or people they've known forever. I wish I could send them this post without it looking bad.

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  23. You are so right. I completely agree with everything you've said here. It really grinds my gears when people say stuff like they are "waiting for God to write their love story." I mean, yes, God is the author of your life, but you have to live that life. You can't wait around doing nothing and waiting for God to show you everything. He doesn't use miracles and signs in the same way as He did in the Bible. And, frankly, even if those were still the norm, I don't think your love life is that special. Ok, rant over.

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  24. I've often wondered where I would be if I didn't choose to accept the pursuits of a few men in the past few years. I used to be of the "No-dating" movement. But then I turned 18 and God clearly spoke to me and told me to say yes to a young man who I didn't know super well but could see many things attractive just from a facebook conversation and a four hour phone call in which he asked me out. I think there isn't a hard set rule on how Godly relationships are supposed to work; the Bible was written in a very different time, it wasn't set up for modern dating or even modern courtships!
    I appreciate the points you made though, for those who do wait. There's waiting, and then there's straight up hiding ;)

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  25. Totally agree! I really don't have anything to add. You make really good points. I am a fan of dating. Obviously not going crazy, but I don't think dating is a bad thing in itself. And I'm ALL for having guy friends. They're so much fun!

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  26. This is an interesting article, tackled in a way that obviously speaks to a lot of people. I came from a non Christian background, so found the way relationships were dealt with in Church so backward. I hated the don;t do it because the Bible says so. We're dealing with intelligent people here. I now run a ministry and a course tackling these issues and giving women space to talk about these things openly and explore not only what the Bible says and why. I enjoyed reading this thank you

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  27. I think these tips can be relevant for "mainstream" daters too. I wouldn't mind learning more about courting vs dating.

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  28. I so totally agree. I have seen this too often. I have also seen girls like this who fall into the wrong relationship.

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  29. Hi Rachel,
    I nominated you for an award, details at: http://jeanies-jargon.blogspot.sg/2014/10/one-lovely-blog-award.html
    ◠◡◠ 

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  30. What a great post and you have some lovely pointers here (which even mainstream dating women could benefit from).

    If we look at the book of Ruth, Ruth called Boaz her guardian-redeemer and essentially asked Boaz to marry her.

    I think if a woman wants to be married, she needs to allow God the opportunity to present a spouse to her. If she closes herself off too much, it's less likely to happen.

    Thanks for sharing and linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

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  31. I think you made a lot of good points here. The problem with "waiting for God to write the love story" or "waiting for God to send you a husband at the right time" is that, if girls run from any possible interaction with men, they'll never know when their future spouse is appearing. I.E., a chance to sit together during lunch might be the moment when the love story is supposed to begin. I think a major part of true love is having a side of yourself that only your spouse sees, and it's nice to at least get a glimpse of that side before marriage.

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