Alright everyone! As you know, my lovely lady (and she is lovely) and I are writing a series of Sunday posts on gender issues. The goal here is both to understand and appreciate one another better, and to address some issues that we see as being important and problematic in society. So, this week Alayna put together a post on some common issues in dating from and for a woman’s perspective. Next week I’ll be writing a post on the same topic aimed at men. Enjoy:
If you have ever looked at your relationship (or not-quite-yet-relationship) and thought that you were having problems with your man, know that you are not alone. Your man is most likely also having problems with you. This becomes infinitely more complicated if the attraction is one-sided (which while unfortunate, happens all too often). If you’ve ever pined away for a guy who didn’t ask you out, avoided a guy because you were scared he would ask you out and you wouldn’t know how to handle it, or acted towards guys in ways you’re not proud of, then you can join me and probably every other woman in America. Unfortunately there is no paved road to marital bliss, but certain truths (or the exposure of certain lies) can help make the feeling of being dragged over the rocks slightly easier.
The biggest lie society tells us when it comes to relationships, is that the first priority is doing whatever makes us happy. The priority instead should be on ensuring that our behavior and attitudes are pleasing to God. This doesn’t mean that we need to get stuck in relationships we don’t want to be in, but it will ensure that we treat men (and really, people in general) with respect and human decency (two traits that America in general is losing sight of). This means that sometimes the solution that is easiest and least awkward for us might not be the best one to choose. Yes blocking someone on Facebook, giving fake phone numbers, or telling convenient white lies can be easy ways out, but these are cowardly and people generally can find better methods. This is an area that I have failed pretty miserably at in the past, and it’s an easy trap to fall into. Getting the focus off of us and onto God and other people is key. This isn’t to say that it’s necessarily wrong to block someone on Facebook, but to do so simply because it’s easier for us definitely is. The responsibility here is to respect others and treat them well.
Another lie is the lie that everyone deserves to be given a chance. A lack of attraction or general disinterest in the person are completely legitimate reasons to reject an invitation for a date (side note: this is Tobias and while I generally agree with everything in this post, I think this is a particularly important point). This isn’t to say that people should make decisions solely on first impressions, and some people truly do need time to bloom, but ignoring issues like those are likely to only cause future and more serious problems in the relationship. One of the main pressures my female friends and I felt when it came to college dating was the idea that a date should only be refused if there are strong and tangible reasons for it (normally only legitimate if the guy had a serious character flaw). I heard guys discuss women in very unkind terms for refusing dates. This led to some of the issues discussed previously (Facebook blocking, fake phone numbers etc.) since we felt there was no good way to say no, but we also didn’t want to say yes. Once, a guy and I were talking with the goal of maybe slowly moving into a relationship. It didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t have feelings for this guy, and that he was falling for me very quickly. Realizing that I didn’t have a concrete reason for not wanting to date him, and that I simply wasn’t attracted to him, I blocked him on Facebook so he could figure out my lack of interest without my needing to initiate and participate in an awkward conversation. I’m not proud of it, but I do know what it’s like to feel stuck and the bad choices that can come from it. This isn’t to excuse poor choices, but feeling trapped in a non-existent relationship (or in an actual relationship) is never a good thing.
One of the harder truths when it comes to dating is that it isn’t easy and it isn’t non-awkward. Sometimes the right guy (or who we think is the right guy) isn’t going to start pursuing right away. Other times, the wrong guy will. Sometimes it’s an unfortunate mix of the two. However, the right thing must always be done, no matter how hard it is in the moment (and it will be hard…no sugarcoating this one). Honesty is good. If you’re not interested in a guy, say it. It’s not embarrassing, and it’s not wrong. If you can think of something good about the guy, mention it. It will help him feel like he’s not a total failure (Tobias will be addressing this male misconception next week). If nothing else, you can always thank him for being brave enough to approach you and state his interest.
Being a woman in relationships is hard. There’s often a degree of uncertainty and the feeling that a lot of the responsibility for the relationship unfairly rests on you. However, to recap, there are things we can do to improve the way we interact with men and to make us better women as a result.
1: Be honest.
2: Don’t fake or force interest. You don’t owe anybody a date. If you like the man’s character and think that you could grow to care for him, than by all means give it a try. But if there’s just no chance at all, accept that and own it.
3: Be nice. Realize that it can be hard for a guy to state interest and the rejection is going to hurt a little. You can say things that will lessen the sting like thanking him for his interest, or pointing our positive aspects of his character.
4: Don’t accept responsibility for his actions or reactions. If he gets upset, that’s on him. It’s our job to be polite and honest. We are responsible for our actions and our actions alone. As long as we are doing what is right, we don’t need to feel responsible for any immaturity on his part.