After having the umpteenth conversation on this topic, it seems as if it’s time someone wrote about it.
Clearly, the Christian dating culture is undergoing a radical transformation. Somehow, the idealized courting culture isn’t working out, and more and more Christians are starting to justify unequally yoked relationships. Something’s up. And the ones who still want that Christ-centered relationship with someone are getting discouraged because they’re under the impression that it doesn’t exist or isn’t in God’s will for them.
But interestingly enough, the trend I’m noticing is that guys don’t like the dating culture, and girls feel ignored. Best I can figure, the men are giving up, and the girls are wondering, “where have all the good men gone?” Then men who don't give up, either succeed, or scare the girls away unintentionally.
Likely, you may have read the article, “Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed.” Thomas Umstattd is someone I became familiar with through the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference and I for one, did read and enjoy the article. If you haven’t, long story short, he argued that the rise in courting culture has actually created more bad relationships than good ones (or no relationships at all) because of the heavy emphasis on becoming serious very quickly.
His argument rang true, especially in the conservative community. But for myself, I wouldn’t say I was ever apart of the courtship crowd. Not all girls are. Most of us are just the daydreamers who just want someone to ask us out for goodness sake. More than anything, we can’t wait to meet that guy God has in store. We like the idea of daddy walking us down the isle. We want to get married, start a family and maybe have a career. Of course, I think most of us are realistic enough to know that Mr. Right might not be the first man to come along. Sometimes you have to meet a few before you get an idea of what you appreciate in someone else.
And yet… even outside the courting culture, it seems to me that the age old dilemma of, “what is she thinking,” or “what is he thinking,” has played a major role in the dating revolution.
It’s human nature to be afraid of failure – and failure seems to be a common outcome. Girls are always saying that they “want to be pursued.” But unless you’re Liam Hemsworth or Channing Tatum, pursuit is coming off as “weird” or “creepy.” Why is that?
My heart is breaking for those poor boys who got turned down simply because they were doing as told.
So if pursuit isn’t working, what do girls really want?
Question of the hour.
Let me preface my answer by saying that I can’t speak for every woman, but I can speak for the ones I know.
Time and again, I hear stories of guys walking up to the girl they like and immediately voicing interest. Not to say they asked her out on the spot, but picture a kid on the playground turning to another and saying without preamble, “You’re my new friend.”
As a child, this is kinda cute, but for most of us in our late teens and early twenties, this is just a bit presumptive. Hence, the awkward excuses to leave and disturbing whispers.
Why? Why do girls react this way when all the poor boy was trying to do was pursue her?
Well, fact is, girls are HIGHLY relational.
Let’s start there.
How on earth do you get to know a girl without coming on too strong?
Well, let me start with, girls do like to be pursued, but we also need trust.
If you want to get to know a girl, start looking for opportunities to get to know her in group settings. Movie nights, game nights, study groups, youth group, college group, church, retreats etc. are the perfect opportunity to talk to someone without a lot of pressure. One-on-one is very anxiety inducing for girls – the minute she walks away, her friends will assault her and ask for every detail. But if you find a chance to talk to her during some group activity, she’s more likely to relax and chat casually.
If you can maintain a decent conversation in a group setting, it’s very likely that she’ll say, “hi” the next time she sees you. She’ll remember your name and maybe some details about you. There’s a good chance, you’ll get a chance to talk to her again, or she might seek you out the next time you are in a group setting together. You’re a familiar face.
Get to know her in group settings. No pressure. Become her friend. Girls like the idea (even before dating) of dating someone they can actually talk to. It’s not all about physical appearance. REALLY. Girls fall for guys the world wouldn’t call “handsome” all the time. If you are nice and approachable, she’ll enjoy your company. And if she enjoys your company – then there is a good chance she could fall for you. (Honestly, even handsome men start looking ugly if they act ugly)
The next question you’re likely to ask is: “But won’t that get me friend-zoned?”
The concept of a friend-zone makes most of my friends laugh. There’s no such thing, men.
Here’s the reality. The friend-zone is not a dead-end road. It’s a toll bridge. When you earn the right to cross, you’ll leave the friend zone. Simply pay your dues. Like I said, girls fall for the nice guy. The day she realizes she can’t stand the idea of someone else catching a treasure like you, you’re free and clear.
So what are the dues?
Well, trick is – make her feel important.
Most girls really need words and acts of affirmation. This is where chivalry comes into play. You can’t begin to imagine how wonderful it is as a girl to be listened to. Even our female friends don’t always listen without interrupting. So if she’s talking, pay attention, remember what she says, and ask questions. Open a door for her when you can. Grab something she can’t reach from the top shelf. Be Mr. Fix-It when the opportunity arises. Carry something heavy. Just be careful of treating her like a “little woman.” She wants to be flattered, not belittled.
If you can make her feel important, she’ll fly. And trust me, if she likes you back, she will return the favor.
This really is what girls mean by, “pursuing.” It’s a bit scary, and sometimes it’s slow going, but she won’t feel “creeped on.”
Just watch. The more you get to know her, opportunities to do things in “smaller” groups will arise. Find a good wingman and find out who her wing-woman is. Before you know it, one-on-one will come and she will be ready for it.
Now… if you find that progressing beyond seeing her at large gatherings isn’t happening, I have to be honest and say that it’s likely, the two of you don’t have much in common. Something happened when you engaged her in conversation that made her feel as if the two of you didn’t have enough to talk about. She might think you’re a nice person, but don’t have enough of a foundation to make a friendship worthwhile. I’m sorry.
But never forget:
Always be praying.
If this is something that’s on your heart, God likely put it there. But remember, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV). And, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 ESV).
We were made to live in community. Even when girls think guys are really confusing, and guys think the same of girls.
The above is everything I tell my friends who are guys. Treat a girl right and she’ll follow. Truly, most girls don’t want the Liam Hemsworths and Channing Tatums of the world, because more often than not, they don’t have the personality to back up the looks (sometimes they do, but not always). Ask any girl worth knowing (I realize that not all girls have a decent head on their shoulders) and she’ll tell you that girls will fall for anyone who’s nice, regardless of how he looks.
That’s what we’re looking for.
Other details we find attractive…
- driven (career)
- strong Christian faith
- similar worldview (this might include church denomination/ moral values/ dogs vs cats/ children/ politics/ sports teams etc.)
- work ethic
But really, after a few months… you ought to have discovered all of these things. If you don’t already have her number, ask for it. If you haven’t gone out on a date (non-committal/casual) ask her. And if she doesn’t know you like her, start thinking about how to tell her. If you’ve gotten this far, she’s probably wondering already.
If she likes you…
She’s already told her friends about you. She’s told her parents (maybe – at least her mom). When a girl likes a boy, she can’t keep it inside. It starts with a smile and ends up spilling into every thought and conversation. Every time she sees you, she’ll have to do breathing exercises to keep from smiling like crazy – then she’ll go find one of her friends and tell them every detail of the interaction.
Now you know.
This is what girls really think. Most girls, anyhow.