One Click at a Time

My post Why Guys aren’t Asking Women Out has created a big buzz.  The comments are pouring in and Ruth Rutherford even blogged about her struggle with some of the male comments in “Oh Henry! There’s Gotta be More.”  In this controversial post I suggested the over-sexualization of our culture (and porn specifically) is one of the biggest contributors to the problem of women not getting asked out.

Some agreed, while others clearly did not.  I was dismissed by a few guys who by their very own comments proved my point that many men in our culture are driven by the sexual images they see.  I was also affirmed for identifying this as a cultural crisis, but my FAVORITE response came in this morning from Brandon. 

I wanted to share this because as a woman I lose credibility by the sheer fact that I don’t have a penis, AND maybe some of you can hear this message better from a man. 

(Although this whole post was done in collaboration with my husband –a male pastor and we deal with this issue on a daily basis in our church, ministry, through counseling and in the relationship seminars we speak at.)

Here is Henry’s comment, which I confess I struggle with a bit.

As a guy I have a very different perspective. I’ve dated a ton of women – more than I care to admit. I don’t think porn is the real problem as to why these girls aren’t getting dates. Any honest Christian single guy will admit he’d much rather marry and sleep with his wife/best friend than settle for porn.  Read more…

Brandon replies…

“Henry is right…men DO want somebody to cuddle up with in front of a Cowboys game, enjoy bedroom life with, and read the Bible with…but that’s about it. The long drivel that makes up the rest of his comment is incredibly shallow, ignorant, and short-sighted.

When I first saw the title, “Why Men Aren’t Asking Women Out”, a little thought popped into my head… “Why men aren’t asking women out? That’s simple. Porn.”

For Henry to dismiss pornography and the general sexualization of our society as one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, contributors to this problem means he has his head in the sand. Recently, I have discovered that multiple men very close to me…older men that I have looked up to, some of which that are in ministry or deacons of churches who have by all accounts healthy, close relationships with the Lord have struggled with pornography recently or in the not so distant past. These are men who have served as my personal heroes and confidants, all of which are in their 40s and 50s, all of which have daughters… And they have all come to me separately in the past year to confess that while they were giving me advice in my struggles…they were struggling with lust and secret sins of their own in a way that boys do now starting as early as elementary or middle school.

If these types of men are struggling with this, it’s undoubtedly even bigger than any of us probably even realize.

Pornography and constant easy access to sexual imagery is re-programming our brains one click at a time and the result will be many men and many women that are single much later into their lives, if not for the rest of their lives as well as many ruined marriages that are entered into without full disclosure of the digital women that the groom brings into the equation from Day 1.

In the spirit of transparency, I have met girls before and thought to myself, “She seems awesome. I would ask her out but [insert physical feature] doesn’t really match up with what I’m into.”

I’ve tried to capture those thoughts and re-train my thinking in these areas but with a world full of men that are more likely driven by lust and fulfilling physical desires with such quick and simple ease rather than being driven by Christ-like motivations, there will undoubtedly be millions of women who will continue to pay the price.

The only thing women can really do is pray and ask the Lord to show them areas that they’re falling short in their relationship with him, which will undoubtedly make them more attractive to the right type of man. Also, continue to pray for your future husband. It’s very likely that he is in a spiritual battle with sin and the enemy that needs your interceding. As for men…there are a lot of difficult choices to be made, but the first of which is to step up, take responsibility, get our heads out of the sand, and start fighting for the wives and the children that God has yet to entrust us with because we’ve been warped by a computer screen.”

Brandon, THANK YOU!  You articulated this beautifully. 

What do you think about Brandon and Henry’s different perspectives?

 

Photo credit: Via pinmarklet

Why Men Aren’t Asking Women Out

Why Aren’t Men Asking Women Out?

Every now and then, a woman will sneak up to me after we speak at an event and with teary eyes choke out, “I’m not very attractive and men don’t ask me out.  Like EVER.”

My heart aches when I see a woman in despair and hopelessness.  They desperately want me to have a fix-it-all answer and I am left stuttering. 

Helping a woman date well is pointless when there are no dates to go on.

I usually respond by going back to God’s word and reassuring them of his ravishing love for them and their true worth and beauty.  But in all honesty, it’s a hard sell when a woman believes she is an ugly duck and no man is willing to fight for her heart and convince her otherwise. 

Ruth Rutherford’s blog –I Kissed my Date Goodnight explores this topic in greater detail.

Although I am weak on answers, my husband and I do have an opinion as to why this scenario is playing out more and more often with single women.

And it’s not because we are JUST an image obsessed culture.  It goes much deeper.

The Problem

The problem is the over-sexualization of our culture. And porn magnifies this.

When men watch beautiful women expose and degrade themselves on a regular basis they begin to subconsciously believe they are entitled to a hot chick that operates in the same fashion in real life. 

But there are a limited number of women who meet this elite criteria.  That leaves the rest of us.

Prior to the first Playboy in mass circulation, it seems as though men were more likely to move towards marriage and relationship.  A below average looking guy would pursue and love a woman who might not meet all of the societal norms of beauty. 

Unfortunately, these days he would rather stay single and settle for his hand and a box of Kleenex.  Real women are complicated and take effort but a fantasy porn woman will bark at his command. 

Porn is cheap and easy.

Many men’s expectations have become so distorted by pornographic images they lose the ability to even be intimate with a woman not digitized on a screen.  As more and more men isolate, real women suffer the consequences and ultimately men do too, although they may not realize it until it’s too late.

The truth is we have an enemy who loves to destroy relationships and porn ruins a man’s ability to engage in healthy dating relationships before he even begins. 

It’s not like this is a new scheme of Satan’s.  Reading throughout the Bible, rampant promiscuity is not fresh to modernity.  It’s just getting more prevalent and widespread with technology.

No Easy Solution

Sadly, there are no any easy or pat answers.  I have a teenage son.  I know all too well it’s a battle men face on a daily basis with an adversary who plays into their weaknesses.

I wish it were different.  But until the day Jesus returns I believe many of us will be left wanting and craving for something more.   

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Via Pinterest

Taking the Honey out of Honeymoon. Why Buddymoon’s are the New Trend.

My husband and I always have the same conversation at weddings.

“Purity or shacking up?” my husband whispers.

I carefully examine the bride.  If she scowls or looks grumpy, it’s a no brainer-“they’ve slept together.”  If she cries walking down the aisle, I know immediately –“sex.” But if she floats down on cloud nine, gallops down with a goofy grin, or smiles like a Cheshire cat it’s just as obvious –“no sex” I exclaim.

It’s a gift I have, this radar for purity and wantonness (possibly because I’ve worn both pairs of shoes).

I can always tell at weddings if the couple has already consummated the relationship.  In marriages where sex is as common as brushing teeth, or better yet –flossing, the wedding is the denouement or the culmination of the relationship. 

These are the “bridezillas” who display a freakish sense of control over every tiny detail.  And it has to be perfect because the big day is about as good as it gets for her.

But for the bride who has a honeymoon to look forward to, a real honeymoon with a slow deliberate unveiling, a full vacation of exploring her beloved’s body, and a once in a lifetime retreat to connect physically with a man she has yearned and waited for, the wedding is just a step towards a new life together.

All things are fresh and new to the couple who has waited to have sex. But I remember all too well, waking up the day after I married my first husband. 

My exorbitantly overpriced bridal frock was crumpled on the chair, the carriage carted off and the ice sculptures melted along with my enthusiasm.  I thought I would feel differently once married, and I did, somewhat, but the disparity was more of an anticlimactic disappointment.  

Just to clarify, It had nothing to do with love or committment to the marriage.  I had both, but by acting married before I was married, I stole my own joy before it’s time, like a kid waking up on Christmas morning and knowing what’s under the tree because they snuck a peek when mom wasn’t looking.

It’s what so many couples do when they play house before the ring is on the finger, forgetting the repercussions which inevitably follow namely a boring honeymoon.

Been there…done that…BIG YAWN.

To compensate for the lack of awesomeness a honeymoon used to symbolize, the new trend according to the New York Times, is to take a “buddymoon “and bring the family and friends along.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia notes…

“Today, when about 65 percent of couple’s cohabitate prior to marriage, the honeymoon is less likely to be a major turning point in their relationship,” said Professor Wilcox.  “For them, I think having friends come along is less of a big deal and in some ways makes it more of a special and exceptional occasion.”

By taking the “honey” out of honeymoon, couples enter marriage already disenchanted enough with each other to need outside entertainment.  Thus they need “buddies” to get them through the hump of spending one week alone with the person they have just chosen to spend the rest of their lives with.

And this new trend makes me sad.

I think we –as a culture are losing a precious rite of passage by robbing OURSELVES of a once in a lifetime opportunity to revel in our spouse. 

Tim and I treasured our three-week honeymoon to the Mediterranean.  We loved, we laughed and we made new and amazing friends, who as fellow honeymooners shared our fledgling memories.

I believe in my heart that part of the reason my first relationship didn’t work out is because we didn’t hold our purity in high regard.  Because we had sex prior to marriage, it clearly made it easier for my ex-husband to have sex with someone else while we were married.  With God’s grace, I got a second chance to do it right and chose purity for my relationship with Tim…and it changed everything.

The second time around, I practically ran down the aisle (dragging my dad) to join my groom.  People commented they had never seen a smile as big and bright as my beam.  I didn’t notice the flower arch met an untimely crack, or the misplaced name cards or any of the other minor details that were far from perfect. 

All I saw was my honey.  And no offense to my buddies, but we did just fine without you.

Would you consider a buddymoon?

 

Modified from an article first posted on Kellerdating

What 20% of Successful Daters Know

Ever wonder if those commercials for Match.com are true? Match boldly claims one in five people currently meet online.

Really, come on?

They make it sound like everyone along with their pooch and second cousin from Arkansas met online, and if you don’t surf the web for a date you are clearly missing out on all the Appalachian hotties.

So, is it a bunch of advertising schmooze to get singles to flock to their site or is their truth behind their ostentatious assertion?

As I was doing research for the book Tim and I are writing on dating, I stumbled upon the study Match used for their statistics. And it was an eye-opener!

Current dating statistics now reveal almost 20% of relationships start online (17% to be exact).

As Pete the Cat from Mickey Mouse likes to say… “Well, pinch my papayas!” I had no idea internet dating was that big of a phenomenon? And that was two years ago, I bet the stats are even higher now!

In 2009 and 2010, Match.com engaged research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey to conduct three studies to provide insights into America’s dating behavior: a survey of recently married people, a survey of people who have used internet dating, and a survey of single people and people in new committed relationships.

Another shocker I didn’t expect to uncover is that more than twice as many marriages occurred between people who met at an online singles site than those who met in bars, at clubs and other social events combined.

So, just to make this crystal clear –your chances of getting married are better if you meet someone online, than say… in Hooters.

This makes sense, but what about church or work or all the other “social events” people meet at. If 83% of singles meet somewhere else, but their odds of getting married are lower, than the smart Christian dater might want to consider signing up for one of these sites in addition to their other networking methods.

Are you still reluctant? I was too after some bad bouts with the internet.

Mainly because as a former Match.com user myself, all the “Christian” guys I encountered were just as sex crazed and into hooking up as the rest. People check off the Christian box like the ethnicity box.

I live in America, I celebrate Christmas…therefore I am a Christian. (NOT)

(I really think they need to add a “Do you kiss on the first date?” hint, hint…box)

So, from personal and painful experience, I might suggest EHarmony or Christian Mingle.com, just to be safe, or even some of the new Christian sites out there, though I’m not familiar with all of them. It makes sense to avoid the sites that cater to the one-night stand crowd, unless it’s what you’re looking for. (In which case I recommend my husband’s dating boot camp)

I used to feel guilty telling people I went out with someone I met online, but times are a changing! And even though I didn’t meet my hubby there, I know a bunch of people in the church who did and are in great relationships moving towards marriage.

So go online. Don’t feel guilty, feel empowered! Just date smart!

Because you really don’t want to miss out on the Jesus loving hottie from Wisconsin your best friend just connected with while you were trying out your new moves at Hooters.

No Money, No Honey

I’ve never really understood how “visual” men are when it comes to being attracted to the opposite sex.  Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and my metrics for measuring up a dude are vastly different.  Sure, looks played a part in my overall decision-making process but it was never a deal-breaker if the guy had other stellar qualities.

(*note: my husband’s hotness was a bonus on top of his other attributes)

But when I saw a new study in the OC Register the other day, I had an epiphany.  The article, titled –Women aren’t looking for an unemployed man, online dating service’s survey discovers, suggests single men without a job are lonelier than the Maytag repairman as 73% of women refuse to consider dating an unemployed man.

(For those too young to remember, Maytag had an ad campaign showing a lonely repair man in his shop insinuating their washers and dryers rarely break…)

And then it hit me why men date hot chicks who have the brain cell capacity of a flea – it’s because men are wired to be visual in the exact same way women are wired to seek financial security from a mate.

Tit for Tat.  Hot Chicks vs Cold Hard Cash.  Show me the Money vs DD Cup Size

Jokes aside, I have to believe it’s how God designed us.  Despite feminism and women’s rights, the truth is most women feel vulnerable when they are pregnant or raising small children and a husband  with an adequate income allows her to focus on nurturing and caring for her young without the burden of financial stress. 

I know this all too well because when I was single mom the financial stress was OVERWHELMING.  But once I got remarried, the burden lifted.  I still had to go to work and provide but it felt more manageable with a partner.  I don’t believe women are designed to carry the financial burden alone. We can do it (and some do it very well) but it doesn’t sit well on our frame just as most men struggle to get up at night with baby.  They can certainly do it but it mommy does it so much better with a smile and a song instead of bad words from a cranky and grumbling daddy.

The male focus on visual aesthetics is not just immaturity.  According to Dr. Phil McGraw, it’s a “psychosocial, biochemical and neurological gap—so trying to get a man to function according to female standards is like trying to get a pig to fly. It’s just not going to happen. That old but often accurate notion that men are hunters seems especially applicable here.”

 
Men need to be quick on their feet and act fast to bring home the bacon while women need to plan and store provisions for a long winter and hungry mouths to feed.
 
Terry – a reader from the Register article responded: ” A man is set up on a blind date, first question, what does she look like? A woman is set up on a blind date, first question is, how much money does he have?”
 
But here is the catch, although we are designed to operate in a certain manner, we, unlike our four legged friends, have a choice in the matter.  We don’t have to  take this”pre-wiring” to the extreme.  Not every woman needs to be a gold digger and not every man needs to be a skirt chaser. 

We let the world distort God’s standards of provision and beauty.  We let Cosmo and Maxim tell us what matters most and we tune out the simplicity and brilliance of God’s design for male/female relationships.

A man who can provide a roof over a woman’s head and put food on the table is a good catch.  A man who will take a job at Starbucks, or parking cars or get up every morning and apply for a hundred jobs in a bad economy is a treasure indeed. 

A woman who takes care of herself and others, has a sweet spirit and big smile (though she may not be a super-model) is still a beauty.  A woman who follows God, is faithful and true and loves without barriers is ravishing.  And a woman who is physically appealing on the outside but nasty on the inside is not worth the misery of a dreadful marriage, or worse yet, an expensive divorce.

I think it’s time we stop complaining how men only like hot chicks and women only want guys with a job and instead start redefining what real beauty and real provision actually are.

And maybe we need to fix our broken “pickers” so we spot the real jewels when we find them. 

Is your “picker” in need of some fine-tuning? 

 

 

Sharing, Closet Space and How to Prepare for Marriage

Give me a drawer for my unborn baby now!

When Tim and I wed the kids and I moved temporarily into his bachelor pad condo with the view of the waves.  At the time, we were looking for a home to buy and figured it would only take a few months to navigate the home buying process. 

We were wrong.

We packed up all the kids’ toys –the Barbie Guitar, the Lego’s and the Nintendo.  All we brought was our clothes, a few books and the lizard –Sean.

But our three-month tour turned into a two-year stay.

Now Tim had a pretty nice shack for a single dude.  The condo had two large bedrooms and an enormous living space all remodeled and state of the art.  There should have been enough room.  But Tim had been single for thirty-six years and all of a sudden he had to make room in his life and his heart for three more (four with the lizard).

Initially, he cleared out a few shelves for me.  After I whined pitifully, he gave the kids a broom closet (less than three feet across and about two feet deep), a dresser to share and then finally cleared out another half-closet for his new bride.  He continued to occupy the walk-in closet, three dressers and the hall closet.

I tried not to make a fuss and make do with this simple and pared down living style.  I don’t have a ton of clothes because I tend to spend my money on the kids and books anyway, and I knew how hard it was for Tim to go from single (AKA self-absorbed) to married and sharing everything.

 But when I got pregnant with Kolby everything changed.

We were still tied-up in a never-ending escrow –eight long months from beginning to end –and didn’t know if we were going to bring the baby home to our new house or squeeze her into the condo.  My nesting instincts were kicking in to high gear and that’s when I went ballistic.

“I don’t even have a drawer for the baby’s clothes!  Wahhhhhhhhhhhh!  

A torrent of tears erupted and two years of frustration poured out of Tim’s sweet little wife.  I threw a pillow at him and some baby socks and wailed like an abandoned child at the mall.

Tim learned a good lesson that illustrious day.

  1. Learning to share starts before you get married.
  2. Living alone is not the best way to prepare for marriage.
  3. Never deny a woman closet space even if she says its fine –inside she is pissed.
  4. When starting out a new marriage, if at all possible, it’s best to move into a neutral space.  The truth is, the kids and I felt like visitors and Tim felt invaded.  A neutral space right off the bat would have alleviated much of the turmoil.

Tim sent me this article by Mark Driscoll and it made me laugh because we experienced some of this in our relationship and its good advice.  “5 Ways to Move from Selfish to Servant as a Single.”

(FYI…It’s not an endorsement.   I agree with about 79% of his stuff and the rest I abhor, so basically I’m conflicted about the dude)

I would add a few things…

Four (More) Ways to Move from Selfish to Servant as a Single (to Prepare for Marriage)

1. Get a roommate

My husband feels strongly about this one.  Tim always had a roommate until the last few months before our marriage and even then it was hard for him.  Guys-specifically get weird living alone.  In a vacuum of no accountability men will act like boys(X-box, porn, endless sports).  Women collect cats.  And you don’t have to share.  Living with people is important for mental health, accountability as a Christian and future interactions with a spouse.

2. Volunteer with small children or teens

It will give you perspective on irrational human beings and you will be better prepared for parenting and marriage.

3. Stop hoarding

 Pare down your wardrobe.  Instead of collecting things to gather dust –collect experiences and friendships.  Give away unnecessary stuff to people who need it and will use it.

4. Learn time management now

Even as a single mom with two munchkins I had more time than as a married mother of three.  Every relationship takes time and energy.  If you are struggling to balance time as a single person it will only get worse when you get married. 

 

Do you have any more tips to move from selfish to servant to prepare for marriage?

 

 

 

 

Is it Love or Infatuation?

One of my readers asked a great question the other day –What differentiates the really happy couples from those who are just getting by?

It reminded me of an article I came across regarding the longest married couple in the United States –they’ve been together close to ninety years.  This sweet little couple with the wrinkled faces claimed their secret weapons to marital bliss were saying I’m sorry and compromise.

Sounds easy, right?  I think it’s even more basic than that.

Simply put –LOVE IS A CHOICE.

But real love might be one of the hardest things in the world we choose to do.  And the honest truth is that many of us are so deceived about what love actually entails we get it wrong before we even begin. 

We think we love others but really we love ourselves.  And since we love ourselves so much, we tend to think we love people who love us back and give us what we want.    

But we are wrong.

This is because most of us have a warped idea of love.  We believe love is a feeling.  We think sex is love.  We think our happiness comes from love and we think we can fall in and out of it as if it were a place instead of calling it what it really is –infatuation .

Love is none of these things.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. 1 Cor. 13

Infatuation is hooking up now to get your needs met, it keeps you guessing if he’s not that into you, it makes you doubt and keeps you on your toes, it seeks the hottest chick and the richest guy to feed its ego, it keeps one eye roaming just in case there is someone better around the bend, it is jealous, and intense and it burns out fast –usually within a year of marriage.  Infatuation needs a constant source of more deviant sex to keep the fire going, it manipulates to get a ring, it leaves when it gets tough, it gives up when it’s not happy, it’s selfish, and it seeks personal gain above all else. 

Infatuation might get you to the altar but LOVE IS A LIFELONG CHOICE.

The closest many of us get to real love is with our children. We are willing to sacrifice, to move beyond ourselves and to lay down our life to protect and cherish their hearts.  But all too often, what we are willing to do for our babies we are not willing to do for our spouse.

When my husband Tim is huffing and puffing around the house like the Big Bad Wolf and I’m wailing and weeping like a little kid that got her ice cream stolen -“I’m sorry” and compromise are a little tough to choke out.  But if love is a choice those are the exact things I need to lean into.

Laying my own needs and desires down and putting my husband first is how I show him love.  Respecting Tim, even when I think I’m right is real love.  It’s meeting his physical needs despite being exhausted.  It’s when I give up my agenda for the day to get stuff done and I’m spontaneous and present, and it’s getting up in the middle of the night to care for the baby so he can sleep, even though we both have to be at work the next day.

For Tim, real love is taking all three of our kids to Costco so I can finish writing when I’m stressed.  It’s asking me questions and pulling out my prickly emotions I struggle to identify.  It’s doing the dishes and playing with the baby and rubbing my back for the nine-hundredth time.  It’s when he chooses to be tender even when it’s easier to be harsh.

Real love is hard and sacrificial and painful to our crusty selfish hearts. 

I received a letter the other day that was the antithesis of love.  It was from a man I dated in the past.   It’s tough to admit, but there was a point in my life after my divorce where I was so starved for love I let myself settle for scraps.  It’s not that he was a bad guy but he didn’t treasure me or my heart.  He didn’t give me security in the relationship.   He took me for granted and only when I disappeared out of his life did he fully appreciate all that I gave to him and who I was.

And now six years later he is married and he writes me a letter claiming he is still in love with me.  On top of all the awkwardness of having to share this with my husband, it also made me sad because he is so deceived. 

Love is a choice not a feeling.

Sending me a message like this is not love – its disrespect to my husband and to our marriage.  It’s disrespect to his wife.  Love is choosing to care for the spouse he chose to marry not longing for another man’s wife.  

But Hollywood has told us there is one soul mate, one serendipitous love of our life and we keep looking for it instead of learning to love the person in front of us.  My heart breaks for HIS wife because he clearly hasn’t grasped what real love is.

LOVE is choosing to love your wife even when it’s not easy.

They say President Lincoln was one of the greatest president’s ever.  Few people know his wife was one of the most trying women of all time and struggled desperately after the loss of their son with bitterness and anger.  And yet President Lincoln loved her tirelessly and had patience far beyond his own strength. In the battlefield of marriage he became a man worth following.(1)

Lincoln became an epic leader because he learned how to love and sacrifice first at home.

Lincoln chose to love.

One of the best books I EVER read on marriage was Stormie O’Martians Power of a Praying Wife.   It’s a simple little book and much of it is taken from scripture –BUT what got me by the tail feathers and rocked my world was this. 

Stormie was in an awful marriage.  Her husband was emotionally distant, unloving and downright mean.  She suffered from depression and emotional trauma from childhood. It wasn’t a match made in heaven since they wanted to kill each other. 

One day God nudged Stormie to stop praying for her husband to change and to start praying for herself to be the wife he needed her to be.  She began praying for God to give him the wife of his dreams and to let it be her.

It was a radical prayer that changed the course of their marriage.  She stopped picking apart his faults and worked on her own.  She respected him EVEN when he was unloving and she moved at him every day with genuine care and concern DESPITE his behavior.

And her Christ like love couldn’t help but change his heart.  Over time he started to try harder to love her.  He became more sacrificial and eventually became the husband of her dreams.

When I read this I wept because I knew if I was ever going to be a Godly wife I had to bury my selfish desires and let go of my pride.  I had a lot of work to do and a lifetime with the man I love to figure it out.

Real love is counter-cultural and reeks of Jesus –a God that humbled himself and died on a cross for a people who rejected him.

So what is the secret to a happy marriage? 

CHOOSING TO LOVE!

1. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

2. Power Of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

 

 

 

 

Bad Christian Dates and the Tower of Terror

I love hearing dating horror stories. And oh boy, do I have plenty of my own.

Like the guy I met on Match.com who flew out from Colorado to meet me at Disneyland with his daughter for the day. Only problem was he showed up to our date with another gal who looked like Cindy Crawford’s twin. And strangely enough they had adjoining rooms to each other at their hotel (his little girl told me this on Tower of Terror and my scream might have genuine for the first time). When I confronted Mr. Awesome Christian internet guy about his duplicity he got sad and asked me with a straight face, “Why can’t we just all be intimate friends?”

Ummmm…because even though one of my favorite wines is called Ménage a Trois, it doesn’t translate to my dating life Pervert!

Another lesson learned the hard way.

So when I hear my single friends moan about their lack of quality dating prospects, I usually ask them to explain how they go about meeting their potential dates.

“So I was hanging out at Swallows Inn, trolling around Match.com, or partying in Vegas and there she was and I just had to ask her out.”

And then a few weeks later these same folks are surprised and genuinely baffled (just like I was) when the hottie they picked up turns out to only be interested in them for sex and/or money and they feel used like a dirty rag and so mislead.

They tell me with a sigh… “It’s crazy. People are so superficial these days. And their profile even said they were a Christian!”

And then I laugh maniacal because it reminds me of all my awkward dating adventures where I too sought out Mr. Right in all the wrong places.

If you want a Godly girlfriend or boyfriend consider what pool of prospects you are fishing in.

Now I’m not against all internet dating. I know you’re a busy person and you don’t have time to meet other singles the traditional way anymore. So let me take a moment to explain my objections.

From my experience with Match.com, people will hide their true identity on internet dating sites and pretend to be whoever they want to be. When no one knows what you did last week, you lose the accountability of dating in community. You have no real references on a person’s character and just because someone checks the Christian box and knows John 3:16, doesn’t mean they walk the walk.

Here’s a confession for all you dudes –women lie. I know this because I did.

Truth? I was 24

I am guilty of putting up pictures of myself that looked like me on the very best day of my life with hair and makeup, a stylist, and a team of photographers. Yes, you heard me, I used pictures from my previous modeling and acting days and I looked pretty hot for a twenty-four year old. Of course I was thirty-three when I actually posted them. (Totally lame…I know, but I claim mental instability from post-divorce trauma, which is, oh right… another reason I shouldn’t have even been on a dating site)

Reality...Sam and her friend Lara at 33 (still cute but not 24!)

Oh and ladies…guess what? Men lie too! How many guys claimed to be a CEO of a non-existent company, pirate their parent’s address, and take pictures in front of cars they sell for a living but don’t actually own? Sound familiar?

We wouldn’t hire an employee without doing a background check and getting multiple references, or even board an airplane without taking off our shoes to check for weapons, so why do we let strangers enter our dating lives in a vacuum of anonymity? Strangers aren’t sexy, they are just unknown. And beauty and a shiny car can’t compensate for a Godly character.

Where to meet Christian Singles?

Churchy Places

Church is a great place to meet people, but make sure you don’t ask out everyone and become “that guy” who all the ladies avoid. Events at your church are always wonderful opportunities to mingle and volunteering as a greeter or at the coffee bar will guarantee you meet lots of new faces. What about helping out at your niece’s Christian school or your own child’s if you are a single parent? Mission trips…awesome! Usually if you head to a place where Christ is a guiding value of the organization it helps the odds of meeting another Christian. Just saying.

Group Dating

If you are in an all male Bible Study, why not invite a women’s group to join you for a fun out outing? How about a Christian Singles ski retreat or a cruise? Tim and I had a blast up in the mountains with a group of Christian singles while we were dating. But maybe stay away from the hot tub.

Friends and Family

Referrals from friends are a great source of networking, but you have to be willing to humble yourself and ask. I know it’s so hard to admit you might need help, but when I finally inquired from a friend I trusted and asked if she knew some quality men she suggested this pastor guy –now my hubby (though we met by chance on our own before we could be set up). Other people have great insight –use their resources.

Internet Dating

If internet dating is the only way you feel comfortable meeting people, try E Harmony or a site where people have to take a personality test and at the very minimum spend real-time and money setting up a profile. Then take your time getting to know them and PLEASE date in community with friends and people around to give you feedback. Real friends will tell you if a guy or a gal is a poser right off the bat.

Pursue Your Passions

If you want to meet someone who will love the real you, do what you love. If you are passionate about serving the poor and needy, go with other singles to serve. If it’s working out, maybe find a Christian running group or friends with similar interests. If there isn’t a group you know of doing what you enjoy –start one and get busy making a life someone will want to join you in.

Dating

I know you are scratching your head right now. But yes, I said dating. If you date with honorable intentions and don’t shove your tongue down their throat after five minutes –even if it doesn’t click between the two of you, that person might know another person they could recommend. And it will be much easier to run into them again at church if you haven’t behaved like a jackwaggon.

How did I meet my sweetie? We met at the church bookstore where I worked and Tim was a pastor on staff. I am an avid reader and was puttering along in seminary at the time, so the bookstore was heaven to me. I was doing something I found exhilarating and helping people and I’m sure my joy was apparent. He noticed and made sure to introduce himself and eventually asked me out.

So if you’re fishing in the pool of inebriated and superficial bar people, don’t be surprised by what you catch.

Have you got any awesome and awkward dating stories?

Dating -How Long is Long Enough?

 

Leaning back into the patio chair at Starbucks Ladera Ranch, I took a big gulp of frothy yumminess and released a contented sigh.  AAAAAHHHHHHH!

Faith caught my eye as she intently focused on my drink.  She looked perplexed.  “Mommy, you’re cup says Jason on it.”

I looked down in horror and snorted in laughter.  It was true.  On the outside of my skinny mocha frapachino with whip was a name that was most definitely not mine.

But I knew it was my drink.  I saw the guy make it just the way I like it, it was simply a case of mucked up identity.  It was my drink but not my name.

Unfortunately, I was too embarrassed to tell Jason I snarfed the whole thing down.

And while the incident was stupid and dumb and funny it also brought to mind a reader’s question –How long should you date someone? 

It’s not an obvious connection- wrong name, mocha frap, mistaken identity??? (But stay with me here for relevance)

I considered some of the past dating relationships I’ve been involved in where I messed up my own drink –figuratively speaking.  I messed up my identity by pretending to be someone or something I’m not.  It was me in the relationship, but not the best parts of me.  And there was a guy, but did I really know him?   

My best (or possibly worst) experience with this lack of knowing was when I dated Mr. B (it stands for bad word) for a mere four months. 

Mr. B was a producer.  He was wealthy, maintained a powerful edge in the entertainment business, and he showered me with clothes, and Mahnilo Blahniks, and the life of the flouncy flouncy.  And I got sucked into the vortex of all things material and shallow for a time. 

Our relationship came to a head one night at a ritzy restaurant with Mr. B on his knees holding out an engagement ring.  I stared at him in shock.  Ironically, I thought this is what I wanted until it actually came to pass.

I didn’t say no.  I didn’t say yes.  I did worse than no…I hesitated.

And in a weird Holy Spirit minute where time stood still, the four months of our brief relationship flashed before my eyes.  I saw laughter and luxury and a carefree existence, but I also saw glimpses of impending darkness.  I remembered Mr. B berating a waitress, Mr. B hounding me with text messages when he didn’t know where I was, and one horrible evening when Mr.B picked on my son for crying.  I saw a guy who went to church with me but didn’t share my faith.  And I saw a future of selling my soul for box seats at a Lakers game.

And so I hesitated.

Mr. B jumped up and ripped my arm out of the seat.  He screamed at me, “It’s the Jesus thing, isn’t it?  I’ll never be good enough for you?”

I looked out the window as he drove me home and thanked God for saving me from possibly the worst mistake of my life.

“Yes, it’s the Jesus thing. (And I secretly thought an A-hole thing too).”

It was the last time I would see him.  But I discovered an “oh so important lesson” about dating that night.  Getting to know someone takes time.  There are no shortcuts on this one.  Generally speaking, happily ever after doesn’t exist when you get married by Elvis in Vegas.  And even if you stay married for the rest of your life, you will more than likely doubt your hasty decision.

People can pretend to be anyone for a few months.  Usually it’s just little lies –like girls pretending to enjoy camping and endless afternoons at sports bars (when they are secretly bored to tears) and after a while the truth leaks out she’d rather go shopping.  Guys pretend to be sensitive and attentive to a woman every need and then reality bites hard when she becomes a football widow at the first kickoff in August.  Typically, after the first six weeks, the cracks start to show and hints of people’s true personalities emerge.  But skilled deceivers can last up to three or four months.

When my husband and I were dating, Tim was advised by a well respected Christian counselor to spend as much time as possible with me.  The reasoning behind this was to see how I operated under different circumstances.  And in turn, I got to see how Tim dealt with the stresses of life.

We were also advised to date through all four seasons –one full year of getting to know each other through the good, the bad and the ugly.

And it certainly wasn’t all pretty.  During our first year of dating, we experienced together: job loss, two moves, a home sale, health issues (me), a cross country road trip with two little kids, pre-marital classes (before we were engaged), holidays with family, a crazy mission trip, vacations with family, 38 planned dates, and plenty of time with our respective friends.  Dating wasn’t just dating; it had become a mission to get to know each other.

At the end of each season we celebrated with a special night out and Tim gave me a “season charm” to be placed on a dating bracelet he had given me after our first winter together.  It was an intentional move on Tim’s part that both honored our time together and held out hope for a future with one another.

By the time Tim proposed at the end of the first year -we knew each other intimately and the only secret I wasn’t in on was a surprise proposal.

This time when Tim dropped to a knee in front of my parents, children and sixty of our closest friends I hollered out a resounding “yes” through tears of joy.  There was no hesitation!

It was fifteen months from first date to the altar.  And then a whole new way of knowing each other began.  But the foundation had been built on rock and not the shallow sands of compromise.

Don’t cheat yourself on the knowing

Marriage isn’t the time to find out he or she has got another personality, a gambling addiction, or a secret love child and garnished wages –dating is ♥

The Stigma of “Single” in the American Church

I was thirty-two when a frog kissed me and I magically turned into a single person.  All of a sudden the veil of married person apathy lifted and I saw all the stuff that whizzed past me before –namely how church wasn’t all that much fun when you’re flying solo.

It really hit me the first time I had to go church all by myself.  With my new single vision goggles I realized how intimidating it is to even walk in the worship center a la carte.  If you stand at the door for more than a minute it becomes apparent you are missing half of your species.  It reminds me of Noah’s Ark.  In the couples go, two by two, a pair of every kind. 

And there you stand, all awkward with a cup of coffee grasped like a lifeline, so you have something cool to do –like sip, pretending that being alone is a choice and not a condition.

Once in the sanctuary I would sit and listen to a sermon geared towards a nuclear family –now it might be a dysfunctional nuclear family, but spiritual metaphors were generally culled from a conflict with a spouse, teen angst or making amends with a cranky neighbor. As a single mom in a condo, just trying to survive and get my kids to school on time without losing my marbles…it was a little tough to relate.

The pastor would generally poke at the singles over thirty.  He would remind us we were too picky, not that awesome of a catch anyway, and urge us to get our “sparkly act” together (i.e. get in shape, smile more, and stop being weird).

Strangely enough, church wasn’t a safe place when I was single.  It made me feel even more lonely and sad.  And single is such a strange description these days for an unmarried person because people under thirty do not consider themselves single –they identify themselves as young with options.  It’s the over thirty folks who wake up one day and says “Jinkies, I’m starting to get old and I’m still alone.”

And this is when you realize you are single.

Ironically over half the church population is unmarried and I would reckon many of these people feel like the unwanted step-children at their church.  This isn’t a blanket statement and I know there are vibrant, single people who flourish at church, but I hear the hearts of many more singles that are floundering and can’t comprehend why the church seems to turn its back on this group.

I have a few theories –though I imagine there are a multitude of reasons. 

Most Sr. Pastor’s Can’t Relate

First, most Sr. Pastors and pastors in general marry young.  And even though I agree with the theology of marrying young and growing old together, it doesn’t happen for everyone.  People make mistakes, we have broken “pickers” and divorce happens, even to good Christians.

Our culture has deceived us into believing we need to postpone marriage until we have our lives figured out –money in the bank, a big house, and a great job. But when the lure of having it all together evades us due to job loss, college debt and a bad economy, we are left with shattered dreams and without the proper tools to move dating relationships towards marriage.

Most Sr. Pastor’s  do not understand what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a thirty something perched on a stool at Starbucks waiting for their thirty-fourth date from E-Harmony and hoping…praying, maybe, just maybe this is the one. 

Preaching to the Bread and Butter

This one might bite but I’m going to say it anyway.  Generally speaking, singles do not have a reputation for tithing as much as married people do.  The Barna Group in a recent study on Trends in Tithing and Donating revealed only 1% of single unmarried adults give money to the church.  So, if I’m a Sr. Pastor trying to keep the doors open, I would probably direct my time, resources and metaphors to the married couples.  Sad but true.

The Church is Aging

There is a new initiative in church circles to go after the younger twenty-something generation because the church population at large is aging, waning and turning grayer by the minute.  But this younger generation does not consider themselves to be “single,” –remember?  So, the thirties and forties “Singles” groups are being discarded to make way for this “attract the Christian youth movement.” 

It doesn’t help that young people are turned off by single references, they perceive singles ministry to be lame, and despise any reference to the fact that they are alone (because they are young with options).  And the savvy churches who don’t want to go extinct are going after this younger group with a passion.  Which unfortunately…leaves the single thirties and forties high and dry.  

The Lost Generation

Singles Gen-X’ers somehow got lost in the middle.  It’s a sandwich demographic that has been usurped by aging baby boomers and a push to be relevant to the hipster post-post modern generation.  Many churches are getting rid of their single ministries for the very reasons I stated above.  In the “Simple Church” model we are all one church ministering to each other as a community and I believe this to be true in parts –through Sunday worship, volunteer service and outreach to the poor and needy.

And while we don’t want to recreate life stage ministries that take away from this united church community, it still doesn’t take away the desire for new mommies to want to connect with new mommies and not talk about menopause with the hot flashers, and couples who want to engage with other couples, and most importantly –the unmarried population, whether they recognize they are “single” or not who want to meet and connect with other people in their life-stage.

Combating these issues isn’t boiled down into one easy fix; it’s a battle we all must engage in.  First –the church is responsible for speaking and ministering to the needs of the single person (51% of the population) and moving towards them with care and compassion, second –singles need to recognize the lure of the world doesn’t lead to “happily ever after,” and third, we as a community of Christ followers need to encourage, embrace and stand up for marriage –and give singles a reason to even want to move towards this relationship.

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