27/06/11 07:49 Filed in: Ministry
In the previous post I talked about the myths singles have when it comes to dating and how those myths do more to damage their prospects for a lifelong relationship than they do to guarantee a happy result. When it comes down to it, everyone wants guarantees especially when it comes to something as intimate as a relationship. The reality is, there are no guarantees and nothing you do can somehow create a guarantee. We are human and as a result we all make mistakes and hurt one another. But there are ways we can enjoy the process and create an environment of openness and honesty that are essential for any good relationship to thrive. Let’s look at some counters to the myths we discussed previously.
First, the concept of having a list is not a bad one in and of itself. Where it usually goes wrong is in the execution of that list. Most lists I have seen have characteristics down to the hair color of the other person or having to like basket weaving like I do. What I have found is that these lists are really based on a level of selfishness. The more we live the less we are willing to compromise the things we enjoy doing. There is also a level of pain involved as well. I have been hurt so many times that I am going to narrow the list to make sure that doesn’t happen again. So rather than being flexible to learn new things or to have somethings that we enjoy but our spouse wouldn’t, we put it on a list and make it a non-negotiable. I would never have married my wife if I made my love of playing basketball a thing that my future wife would have to love and do with me. So based on something I had on my list I would have eliminated the woman who I can truly say is a perfect match for me and the love of my life. How many people have you discarded because of your list?
Instead of having a narrow list have a short list of non-negotiables. On that list I would have things like, must be a follower of Jesus Christ and committed to following Him, must be a trustworthy person of character, and I should be attracted to the person. That’s pretty much it. You could add some other things to it but I would keep it simple which would increase the potential people you could date and would probably lead to finding someone who would surprise you. Most great relationships are between people who are opposites. I know many people think this would only create a lot of conflict but I have seen the same level of conflict between people who are the same, they just argue over whose way of doing the same thing is the best. Open up your list and see what happens in your dating life. You might be surprised!
Second, the idea that you can somehow speed up the process to avoid wasting time with someone who doesn’t end up being your spouse is not only a myth but a near guarantee that you will not find someone. Think about it, if you turn every date into a job interview you are communicating a few things to the person you are dating. First, you are saying you are the judge and jury on whether or not this person is worthy to date you. It makes you critical right off the bat and most people don’t want to be graded on their performance. Plus who’s to say they are not evaluating you? How would you feel with someone interrogating you? Second, you are saying that you are desperate and if the person passes the quiz you might propose to them on the second date. Third, it communicates you are not into them as a person but as the potential of who they could be for you. Everyone wants to be loved and cherished for who they are not who they could become.
Instead of speeding up the process, relax. Allow the relationship to naturally develop and it will be clear over time if this relationship will lead to marriage or not. You cannot speed up the process to fit your timeline. Just like everyone else on the planet you have to go through this process of discovery and getting to know each other so you might as well relax instead of being stressed out over an imaginary timeline you have created for your life. If you really want to get married you will only get there by being yourself and enjoying getting to know another person and having them get to know you. Besides if you relax the odds are you will find the other person likes you more that way than if you are a stressed out interrogator!
Next, basing your decision on whether the other person is going through the proper protocol on how you think relationships should work is not a good way to go about a relationship. First you have to figure out how universally known your protocol is. Not everyone thinks the way you do and if they have some other protocol they are working on you could both miss each other miserably. Just because a guy does not make a move after your predetermined time does not mean he is not a good leader or will be wishy washy his whole life. Most likely he has been burned in the past and is afraid to take the risk of being rejected again. He is also probably missing the “signals” you think are so clear that you are giving him. Just because she doesn’t seem to respond to every joke, gift or idea you have with enthusiasm does not mean she is bored with you. It may just be that your expectations are too high for how she should respond. Rather than wait for perfect protocol, take the risk yourself and be honest. Talk about how you feel and where you see the relationship going. It is ok for the woman to ask the guy about where he is at in the next step of the relationship (within reason time-wise. See number two above). He might actually be relieved you asked. It is ok as a guy to ask what she thinks of something without looking weak. She would probably appreciate the fact you asked.
Finally, the mind reading and interpretation that goes on with the “tea leaf” crowd does nothing to help a relationship in fact it only creates more problems. It is exhausting trying to interpret every word, lack of word, action, or lack of action. Not only is it exhausting but if you interpret it wrong, which you will 90 percent of the time, you can end up having a negative attitude towards the other person that they feel without being able to figure out why you are mad other than you are just a jerk. If most people are mind readers than I would have to say they are all not very good at it based on the conflict I see that comes from imaginary insults and events. If you want a healthy relationship you have to talk about the things you are unclear about and begin to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. If he or she didn’t call it doesn’t mean they are not interested it may just mean they are busy or working at that time. If they are not enthusiastic every time they get a call from you it probably means they are normal not that they are no longer interested. Do yourself a favor and relax and stop reading into everything. Allow the natural flow of events to happen in a relationship and watch the results. If you are uncertain about something or think the person is trying to tell you something non verbally, ask. Yep I said it, ask. It won’t mean you are too needy unless you ask about everything. But if you are truly unsure occasionally asking instead of assuming will only lead to greater clarity and understanding which are critical for every healthy relationship to develop.
Dating is already a tricky thing. Making it more difficult with the myths out there can only lead to more disappointment. But if you choose to allow the process to naturally take place by being yourself and giving it time, you might just find a relationship you would never have considered in the past and if you think about it, that’s how most people who are married found one another. It was usually the last person they would have thought of. So relax and enjoy the process.
16/06/11 08:14 Filed in: Ministry
Dating is one of those things that causes most people a lot of anxiety, especially in the single world. Relationships are already hard enough to establish and maintain with two independent people trying to figure out how to relate to one another in this identity called a “relationship.” Add to that the pressure to find the “one” who you will marry, have a family with and hopefully grow old with and you have a recipe for a difficult process. With all this pressure put on a few hours with another person who may or may not fit the profile of “marrying material” it is no wonder so many singles have been frustrated and lose a sense of hope when it comes to having all of their dreams come true. There are so many myths surrounding this dating process with advice coming from every corner, how do you navigate that advice? Here are some of my thoughts on where this advice goes wrong.
First you have the “list” people. You know how this works. You are told to make a list of all of the things you want in a person and then you go out and find a person to fit your list. It is kind of like shopping for a mate. After all, we shop for just about everything else in life, why not a future spouse? You are told to stick to your guns when it comes to your list and never compromise on that list. So singles go out and make a list that only God could fulfill and they wonder why they are not meeting new people or finding the right person to marry. Never mind that many of them could not live up to their own list or if the person on their list had his/her own list they wouldn’t be on it. With such a narrow list of attributes and things the person wants in a spouse, they miss so many opportunities around them because they would never consider anyone who doesn’t fit the list.
Then you have the “don’t waste your time” people. These are the people who say that you are only wasting time if you allow a relationship to develop over time only to find out that person wasn’t the one. So instead of wasting your time trying to figure out if this person is marrying material or not try to figure it out on the first date or second if you are not really efficient with your time. So you go out on a date and turn it into a job interview asking all kinds of questions, many of an extremely personal nature, to a person who you just met. Of course never mind the fact that you are projecting that this date is not for fun but an evaluation of the other person’s potential performance as an adequate suitor for marriage. What person doesn’t love having their performance evaluated? Everyone likes performance reviews at work right?
Next, you have what I like to call the “proper protocol” people. These people know how relationships are supposed to work and don’t cross any lines when it comes to those generally known rules. If someone doesn’t play by these universal rules than they must not be the right person to marry. You know what these rules are. The man is supposed to take the initiative when it comes to the relationship. He should know what he wants and he should do all the directing and asking in the relationship. If he doesn’t, then it shows he is not a good leader or is a terrible decision maker and therefore not a good candidate to lead a relationship. The woman is supposed to be good at following the lead and should look like a super model every time you see her. If not she may be too bossy or critical or only taking care of herself to get a guy and then will let herself go after they get married. Or you could have the reverse of these roles depending on each person’s perspective on how relationships should go.
Finally, you have what I call the “tea leaf” people. These people try to read the signs and determine whether a person is interested and what every move the person makes or doesn’t make really means for the relationship. Everything is analyzed from how soon the person calls or texts back to what certain conversations and topics really mean. He didn’t call back for two hours it must mean he is not interested in me. She didn’t laugh at my joke. It must mean she finds me boring. There is no end to the analysis and second guessing that goes on with this group. More time is spent on deciphering than is spent on really getting to know the other person and allowing the relationship to develop.
Each of these types of dating approaches usually leads to the same place, the end of a potential relationship. People are complex and yes you want to make sure you are making the right decisions when it comes to investing the direction of your life with someone else. But if you don’t allow that relationship time to develop and breathe without all the expectations and evaluations you are tempted to put on it, you will have a difficult time finding a relationship that could lead to marriage. In the next article I will discuss counters to each of the types of people above and some ways you can begin to overcome these mentalities to make yourself someone who others can relax with.