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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Christians and the monster of love & dating

"Eaten By The Monster of Love" by Sparks was a popular song in the 1980s which basically begs, "don't let it get me!"  It goes on "It's worse than war, it's worse than death."  It certainly seems Christians approach love and sex as monsters about to devour us in apocalyptic doom.  Since dating can potentially lead to love and marriage, Christians have become overly wary.

Relevant Magazine ran an article called "Why Christian Are So Bad At Dating."  While they did a great job of coming up with several explanations, the real reason comes down to social skills.  When you don't engage in dating on any level, you do not develop a social skillset for dealing honestly and easily with the opposite sex. 

Often the level of frustration in Christian dating goes above and beyond the basic level of frustration in secular dating.  The expectations we have of ourselves get in the way of any kind of enjoyment to be shared with someone of the opposite sex.

Here are some more suggestions for dealing with this.

Live in the moment. 
Go out for a coffee and enjoy it.  Instead of going to coffee with a "friend" and confusing her, why not just call it a date?  Yes, you like him.  He might even like you.  But let coffee stand on its own with no expectations.  If you have a good time, great.  Go back to having no expectations.  The key to this is to enjoy a conversation with someone in which you do not share very much on one of these casual dates.  Save the deep sharing for a later date.  The first date should only be about having a good time on the first date.  There are many dates in which this doesn't happen - you are finally hanging out together and you don't have a good time.  (In that case, be willing to move on.)

On the other hand, if you want to have coffee with a friend, say it's as a friend and don't automatically think you will be leading the person on by meeting up for coffee.  That's not fair to assume that having a coffee or spending any time with someone of the opposite sex is a waste of time, will lead someone on, or will lead to uncontrollable emotions.  It's when you go out every weekend with this friend that you will end up leading this person on whether you are male or female.  Having coffee or a chat gives you a richer social circle which could lead to you meeting your future spouse.

Be honest about your expectations. 
You have gone out on a few dates with someone and who they are doesn't fit with what you think you want in a relationship.  She seems career driven.  Your mom stayed at home.  You don't think she'll want that.  Assume nothing.  Talk to her.  Talk to him.  If it's something that can be worked out, do so.  If not, end the relationship.  People often are willing to make changes for a serious relationship than they are for a casual relationship.  In every Christian group there are many hurt feelings over things not working out with no one understanding what happened.  It's more compassionate to be honest - especially when you might see this person again.  Moving on hurts others less when people actually know your thought process. 

Enjoy who you are.
And find someone who can celebrate that and enjoy who you are.  I say what I mean.  Do you?  Are you happy with that?  Do you hate the insinuation that you are forward?  Can you live with it if people do?  One of the struggles women face is that some men, particularly Christians. are caught up in rigid gender roles.  But everyone should keep in mind that a real relationship with a real person takes some social skill.  It's important to be able to say what you feel and what you want in a relationship.  If a man is too hung up on rigid gender expectations and you aren't, move on - no matter how cute you might think he is.  We do not live in a world where it is only the man who works or can be the breadwinner - but there will always be some men who want a very submissive woman.  I guess a story works here because this relationship skill set also works in everyday life.  I was admiring a woman's tote bag which had display boxes on the outside of it.  Next thing I knew she was telling me all about Cookie Lee jewelry and offered me a catalog.  I said, "No, thank you.  I was just admiring your bag."  The woman next to me said, "I can learn something from you.  In my culture I it is expected that I would say yes."  Don't say yes to things you don't want.

Be willing to move on.
If you are true to yourself, know who you are in Christ, and know how you are in relationships, the rejection won't hurt as much and the good relationship will be that much better.  If things just don't click, they don't click.  Don't be angry.  Move on.



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