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?

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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