Ohh, Christian dating.
If you’ve experienced it you know what I mean with that sigh. If not, let me give you a look with my experience with one particular Christian guy.
I thought I had found my ideal guy last year- I read his online profile and really felt a bond with him, and that was before he had even posted a picture. In a risky move, I sent him a smile/wink/whatever that particular site has (I’ve tried them all, except Tinder), and asked him to post some pictures.
The next day? Jackpot! He looked like a preppy American Prince William and was holding a baby (double jackpot! The baby wasn’t his!) We started talking and it was genuinely nice to get to know a guy through long letters. It felt old fashioned in this digital age, even though it was through the messaging on the site. It felt reassuring to be starting things the way so many people in the past did. It was a while before we started texting and talking on the phone, and a few more weeks before we met in person for our first date.
We got along extremely well on our first date, down to being in complete agreement on the type of pizza to split. I should’ve known then that we were both too eager to please, and too wary of any sort of conflict. This was a pattern that continued on throughout the time we were together. For the record, I can genuinely say that I got my favorite type of pizza (Margherita with fresh basil and mozzarella), but it was more the attitude that we both had of “wow, this is so easy!” with each other. We came to believe, subconsciously I’m sure, that these little happenstances equaled us being “good” for each other, and we didn’t want to break the streak of having things in common and agreeing on everything.
Ironically, even though we each thought this easiness made us good for each other, we both had hesitations about being together, and were baffled about why we had hesitations even though we were so good “on paper.”
After we had been on 4 or 5 dates he proposed to me that we take the next 2 weeks off from dating to really pray and focus on God’s will for our relationship (did you think he actually proposed-proposed to me?!) We did this and had very limited connections until our next date. I wasn’t sure what to think…I felt like I was on trial and was more consumed with insecurity than prayer and thoughtful meditation and counsel on our relationship (if you could even call it that). I came back to him a few weeks later discouraged, because I can’t really say that I heard God speak to me one way or another about this guy. I had a “good feeling” because he was “good on paper,” which isn’t saying much, because when I look back I actually remember a lot of bad feelings from this time, mainly insecurity and uncertainty that was so overwhelming that I couldn’t focus on God’s will clearly.
We reunited and both kind of felt like God didn’t give us a clear answer. We wondered, is THAT the answer? Maybe it was.
I had gone into this time of prayer and fasting looking for God to give me a clear red or green light, but what I found was that things were and always had been a yellow light: proceed with caution. We went on a few more dates, and then he told me that for the next 6 or 7 weeks his weekends were booked completely solid with out of state weddings, a guys fishing trip, a bachelor party, family stuff, and a graduation. He basically wanted to take a break during that time and continue praying since we wouldn’t be able to see each other. We still talked, but he was busy. Unfortunately weekdays weren’t an option because I was working mostly 3-11 shifts and he had normal hours. If we were lucky we could talk during my dinner break, but he had various weeknight activities like trivia and Bible study that kept him busy. Finally this break was over, and we went on a date that just wasn’t that fun. I wondered if we had lost too much traction to really get things back to where they were. After a few more dates I felt similar, but had a hope that we were getting closer again, finally in a good rhythm.
After a little while of dating post-break, we still weren’t official, and I felt insecure about this. He also hadn’t kissed me, and even for a Christian couple this seemed unusual. Believe it or not, most Christian couples aren’t like the Duggars, saving everything including their first kiss for marriage. I’m not judging the people who do. I believe in purity but I think that kissing guys you care about is a way to express how you feel without going over the top. I think that to have a relationship there needs to be SOME kind of physical contact that’s a little deeper than how you kiss your great aunt Wendy when she comes to town.
I genuinely think my guy was trying to be respectful in waiting a few months to kiss me, but it wasn’t something we talked about and it left me feeling insecure that maybe he didn’t like me or find me attractive. I would wait for the end of our dates, hoping that each night would be the night.
I bet you’re wondering why I didn’t kiss him first.It’s because I’m stubborn and after months of just hugging and stuff I wanted him to kiss me first (remember, I wasn’t convinced he liked me). I could have kissed him and I know he wouldn’t have stopped me, but to me that wouldn’t have proved that he liked me.
Finally one night, after we had watched a nature documentary (sexy, I know), he kissed me. It was a good kiss and we ended up making out on my couch for a while, praying my roommates wouldn’t walk in and ruin our moment after so long waiting for it (they didn’t). After that we kissed all the time- hello, goodbye, making out on various couches, cautious not to cross any lines.
Summer came, and I was discouraged, still wondering if he really liked me and if so, why I wasn’t his girlfriend yet. I brought this up to him, and he cited wanting to be cautious about God’s will. He didn’t want to move to quickly and end up hurting me. He wanted to guard both of our hearts. It sounded fair enough- after all, I agree with and appreciate all of those things, but something still didn’t feel right to me. I felt like he was still trying to figure me out, and that somehow I was unworthy.
By this time I had picked up on his quirks and found what annoyed me about him. One of the big things is that I felt he didn’t make it his priority to get to know me better by spending more time with me, to figure out if we should be official. It was pretty casual and we almost never saw each other more than twice in one week. On one hand he really seemed to want to find God’s will, but on the other, I felt like he wasn’t spending enough time with me for us to really know each other. I know that we can’t purely judge based on our time together, but looking back I think it would have been helpful, and that we would have come to the same conclusion, only sooner, which would have been ultimately good in terms of getting on with my life. I think his perception of trying to figure out if this was God’s will was to seek counsel from other Christian men in his life, fast, pray, and read. I did the same things, but felt I needed more quality time with him to have an answer on if I even liked him enough to try to make this work.
Towards the end of the summer I got so fed up with my guy and the state of our non-relationship that I was ready to throw in the towel several times. But I always stopped myself, and the last time I stopped myself, I decided I would try harder. I made him a delicious dinner and we had a nice evening together. I gave him gifts for his new classroom; he was a teacher and had gotten a new job, so I got him a few posters to decorate his new space. I tried to be more- more bubbly, more fun, more affectionate, more desirable.
We had another date night at my apartment where we watched a movie together. I tried to cuddle with him and he just seemed rigid. Come to think of it, he hadn’t been super affectionate the last two dates or so- no steamy make out sessions lately. I knew he wasn’t a big cuddler, but this was a little colder than usual. I decided to try to give him a massage. As I rubbed his back I got no feedback from him that this was something he even felt, let alone liked. He kind of leaned forward towards the TV and basically ignored me. Then we went for a walk. It seemed like he had something on his mind that he wanted to talk about, but it never came out. After we got back from our walk we sat on the stoop in front of my apartment. He told me that he wasn’t good with words and would be sending me one of his “famous emails” (he had done this a few times before). We kissed goodbye- our last kiss- as he got into his car and drove away, leaving me anxiously awaiting what I strongly suspected to be the end.
He sent me an email the next day essentially telling me about his reservations in furthering a relationship and how he doesn’t understand how this can be because I’m like, so totally awesome (my words, not his). He wanted to know if I felt the same way and had the same reservations. When we talked on the phone the next day I told him that yes, I actually felt exactly the same way and that I almost had this talk with him a few weeks earlier, but thought I would give things one last go. So that was basically our break up, although I’m still not sure what we were breaking up. He told me he wanted to see me again but understood if I didn’t want to get lunch with him. I went back and forth, but decided it might be nice to have some closure, so we got lunch and used the last of a gift card we had won together at trivia night. We actually shared a nice time together and were able to reflect on our time together in a very honest and open way. He hugged each other goodbye and he told me how great a girl I was. We promised to “keep in touch” and “not be strangers.” We haven’t kept in touch, and essentially we are strangers. I guess we always kind of were.
So what have I learned?
-Being good on paper is overrated
-God’s will isn’t usually a clear red or green light; it’s more nuanced than that, and sometimes no answer is your answer
-Ultimately being emotionally and physically hesitant saved us both pain (although there was still some pain, this was one of the “best” breakups I’ve had)
-Getting dinner with your “ex” after you “break up” can actually be good- don’t just write if off as something not to do. Closure is valuable.
-Communication is essential- I look back and realize that we were both trying to please each other so much that we didn’t even fight when we should have. I tolerated a lot of things (like our break) without much complaining. He thought this was a great quality I had, but it wasn’t, it was just me being a coward and not wanting to rock the boat by speaking my mind. Always be open and honest, and truly listen to the other person. It’s okay to have disagreements, because every couple does, and how you work through this is a good barometer for the health of your relationship.
-Prince William is overrated. Surprisingly, Prince Harry is now the hot one. It’s not what anyone expected, and somewhere there is a lesson there. Besides, Prince William and his counterpart who I dated were both balding. Don’t overlook the Prince Harrys out there, because they might just be better than the Williams.
-I still stand by what I say about the importance of quality time.
-I should have just kissed him first.
-C’est la vie.