Part 2. Navigating Christian Dating Culture: Some Practical Applications

This is the second part of Navigating the Christian Dating Culture. Read last week's Introduction post here

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Pictured below are Dave and Betty.

Say they were members of secular dating culture, where Dave will ask Betty out for coffee like this:

However in the Christian Dating Culture, things can go down either one of 2 ways for Christian Dave and Christian Betty:

Exhibit A:

Betty gets a little over-invested before anything has actually happened. Or, it might turn out like this:

Betty gets a little over-invested before anything has actually happened. Or, it might turn out like this:

Exhibit B:

Dave gets waaaay over-invested before anything has actually happened. Betty freaks out, and plans her quick escape route.

Dave gets waaaay over-invested before anything has actually happened. Betty freaks out, and plans her quick escape route.

Lament with me, brothers and sisters, for this is the current Christian Dating Culture Climate (CDCC):

HOW WE RUINED COFFEE DATES

1. We've told Christian guys it's a card they can only play once.

As a Christian woman, I feel for my bros.

Should one ask a Betty from church out for coffee simply as he thinks she is cute and wants to get to know her better, the CDCC does not permit him to do this without the harsh suction consequences of a vacuum cleaner. 

The woman, who is not used to being asked for her exclusive quality time and attention, as Christian guys don't ask women out for coffees anymore; will broadcast the news of his invitation to her 3 closest girlfriends. This ruins the guy's chances of pursuing connection with any of those 3 girlfriends should she and this guy not work out. 

"It means he's fickle and thinks I'm just like any other pretty girl," Christian females defensively rationalise, if the guy has asked out 2 or more girls in their community circle.

2. We've told Christian singles coffee is AN end, rather than a means to an end.

Most Christian Daves, who are marriage-ready and are honestly looking to get to know a woman to assess her suitability for marriage, are dangerously risk-averse.

Out of wanting to 'protect a sister's heart' and 'not lead her on' he will get to know a Betty via surface-level friendship channels for many months, sometimes even years, lock himself in his prayer-and-fasting-closet and speak intensely to his spiritual mentors. 

He will do this diligently, consistently, and with great fervour.

He will pour his thoughts into how to make it work with this one Betty before saying two words to her. It will influence his conversations with other men from church that surround him. 

He will prepare his game plan to pursue this one woman with honour and dignity, making sure his road blocks are insured with several letters of the Plan A, B and C etc. alphabet.

He will pray in his prayer closet again, in tongues this time, lifting his hands to the heavens. He will justify in his prayers that physical attraction is not the only reason he wants to pursue this girl - she also serves on the Welcome team "with all her heart", loves God, makes a mean fruit pudding and is nice to people.

Then he shall go in for the kill, where all his energy and sniper focus is meant to pay off.

Look at Dave's sniper focus here.

Look at Dave's sniper focus here.

He will do all this with no consultation about what Betty actually wants; neglecting all common sense wisdom that meeting and befriending a new person requires having an actual conversation.

"We'll plant a church in Europe and be the hot Pastor couple," he'll tell Betty on their very first coffee date, while creepily rubbing her upper-arm. 

And she, while firstly interested in this nice-Dave-guy-who-pursued-her-intentionally from church, will exit the coffee shop slowly, taking her sanity and overwhelmed feelings with her.

3. We've told Christian girls the man should pursue, and have turned them into confused, PASSIVE thumb-twiddlers who ARE "trusting God" IN THEIR BEDROOMS.

This is a church-paradigm issue.

Many ministry couples who publicly tell their origin stories mislead Christian singles into thinking that how they met is how everyone should meet.

Rather than saying "our story is unique, and yours will be too" they attend not to this knowledge gap, confusing Christian singles, who then try to fit their completely unique identities into a one-size-fits-all method. Then they think - if they do not fit this baby-shoe sized niche, then they are approaching it all wrong

My beef is with the following statements:

  • "Dress nicely, buy a new outfit. With my wife it was purely physical to start with, and then it was about her character and personality."
  • "We were both content in our singleness, and then we met each other."
  • "The guy must pursue. He chose me."
  • "We met through serving on the leadership team. Our Pastors gave us favour, and that's how we knew we belonged together."
  • "You must guard your heart and mind."

If you are married or in a relationship, and any of those above statements are familiar to you, I am sorry you had to find out this way! 

Throw shade if you must, but this is my blog :), and you are free to comment or exit. When couples have stated the above bullet points to me, I roll my internal eyes and determine the appropriateness of responding with the following:

  • "Dress nicely, buy a new outfit. With my wife it was purely physical to start with, and then it was about her character and personality."
    • My response:
      • "Many suitors have pursued me out of physical attraction, and it said nothing about compatibility, attraction, aligned values or equal intentions. You two just happened to also hit it off. Alas you are correct that physical attraction definitely helps."
  • "We were both content in our singleness, and then we met each other."
    • My response:
      • "Every time you say this, you make an amazingly content single person who has a very normal desire for marriage think that their contentment-machine is broken, and if they just repaired their contentment-machine a husband/wife will miraculously fall from the sky."
  • "The guy must pursue. He chose me."
    • My response:
      • "Good for you. Many guys have chosen many girls. This fact exclusively does not mean they were right for each other. (Refer to response 1)."
  • "We met through serving on the leadership team. Our Pastors gave us favour, and that's how we knew we belonged together."
    • My response: 
      • "That's fantastic that your purpose, passion and values align. Wonderful. Did you also hear about the couple who broke up because too much external pressure clouded their own gut-judgments about actually being really wrong for each other's sanity and mental health?"
  • "You must guard your heart and mind."
    • My response:
      • "Yes, that's right, we must. However no one knows what this actually means, because no one has bothered to concretely explain it in a way that values different personality types and how they implement the cuffing and shackling of this blood-pumping organ."

All this to say, any of these elements in isolation should be taken with a grain of salt.

Each time a Christian single hears an origin story and its accompanying element, take that grain of salt and put it in your salt shaker. Any one of these grains could be the serendipitous, random way you make a new friend, foe, business partner, rock-climbing buddy or future spouse. 

Trial and error, dear friends; because frankly - no one really knows what the heck they're doing.

PROPOSED SOLUTION: HOW WE CAN RESURRECT COFFEE DATES

Even if I was romantically interested in a guy, I would still need to assess his character over a slow process, that will take several months to a year. Coffee date or no coffee date. I don't think it matters that much.

I elaborate in my 3 Part Relationship Series which you can read here.

Male Christian singles have brought to my attention that the American format of dating has many singles coffee-dating each other left right and centre, and this is no big deal. Both parties treat it simply as a chance to get to know each other better with no strings attached. 

It should be noted that physical attraction inducing coffee date invitations are a means of kick starting a process.

So let's remove the weight off its intentionality.

Stop making a huge deal over Dave and Betty sharing some lattes at Allpress Cafe on a Saturday morning. Let them go on their private journey of getting to know each other without their whole Church Community scrutinising and gossiping about them. 

Let them own their process of mutual character assessment.

Let them decide to choose each other in the assurance of their own mind. 

Let them decide to also not choose each other, and end with a mature conversation between two people who know who they are and what they want; perfectly capable of getting to know someone else without prematurely heart-investing.

Let Dave and Betty be.

Or, we can take the other option requiring less potentially awkward conversations:

We can just have undefined, male/female Christian single friendships where both parties are endlessly wondering whether the other would like to exit the other person's friend- zone.

NEXT WEEK:

Part 3. Navigating Christian Dating Culture - In Defence of the Friend Zone.

THE CHRISTIAN DATING CULTURE IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER. FAITH-FILLED SINGLES ARE TRUSTING GOD IN THEIR BEDROOMS, PASSIVELY WAITING FOR MR OR MISS RIGHT TO FALL OUT OF THE SKY. 

AFTER COACHING MANY CHRISTIAN SINGLES TO BECOME PROACTIVE ABOUT THEIR LOVE LIVES, I AM OFFERING a 15 MIN FREE ASSESSMENT TO KICK START YOUR LOVE LIFE, MARRYING YOUR SOCIAL COMPETENCY WITH CONFIDENT FAITH.

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