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As I get older and experience more life, I’ve been convicted that there are questions that you shouldn’t ask. Questions that I’ve probably asked lots and lots of times. Questions that I shouldn’t have asked.*

* Now, when I say YOU shouldn’t ask these, I mean that you shouldn’t ask these in general. There are people in your life that you are close enough to ask these questions to – sisters, daughters, best friends, mentors. But my point is that I have asked these questions of people whom I shouldn’t have. Wisdom has taught me to keep my mouth shut.

“When Are You Going to Start Dating?”

This question is asked, to women, in 2 different scenarios:
1) About dating in general and
2) About dating someone specific

It seems to me that this question is most often asked by women to other women and they mean well – they just don’t realize how personal their question is or how painful the answer might be. Course, some are just nosy, but I’d like to think that most mean well.  I’d really like to think that I meant well.

“When are you going to start dating?”

Maybe the woman really wants to be married. And you think she’d make a great wife. And you wonder why she hasn’t started dating Mr. Right yet. But that’s a really hard question for her to answer.

Should she make a joke about it? “Well, I guess I’m not dating anyone because I’m just so great at being single!”

Should she tell you that she fears it’s because she’s too introverted and doesn’t have an easy time talking with others, including men? “Well, I guess it’s because I just start stammering when there are men around and I always embarrass myself.” Now the conversation starts to sound like a counseling session.

Should she tell you that she fears it’s because she’s not the right type, so men aren’t attracted to her? “Well, I guess it’s because I am too tall/short/skinny/heavy/blonde/brunette, so men aren’t interested.” It’s an invitation to either condemn her (“Oh no! There are plenty of 6’8″ tall women who are married! That’s no excuse!  There has to be another reason you’re single.”) or compliment her (“Oh no! You look great as a brunette!”) and she might not really believe your compliments.

Should she tell you that she’s afraid of relationships due to the scars she’s acquired in her childhood?  “Well, I guess it’s because I don’t relate well to people as I grew up in foster care, living in 20 different houses before I ran away at age 15 and the things I’ve seen and experienced are just horrible.  I’m working on trusting people and don’t really feel ready to be in a relationship.”  That’s awkward and deeply personal.

Should she tell you that she’s had lots of first dates, but hardly any second dates? “Well, I guess no one wants to keep dating me because I have this flatulence problem that seems to be scaring all the guys away.” That’s a little embarrassing for her to have to share!

Should she tell you that she doesn’t know why, but she is really worried about it? “Well, I don’t know why I’m still single and I’m really worried about it. It keeps me awake at night. I cry at every wedding, bridal shower, baby shower, Hallmark commercial and church service.” And then she starts tearing up right then and there. A crying, sobbing woman is uncomfortable for both of you (depending on the situation).

Should she tell you that she doesn’t know why, but isn’t too worried about it? “Well, I don’t know why I’m still single. But that’s okay – God knows what He’s doing. I’ll just trust Him!” Chances are, she’s said that before and the other person replies with something like “You know, God only helps those who help themselves.” or “The Bible does say that we’re supposed to do the right things – are you the right person that men would want to date?” OUCH! to both of those.

“When are you going to start dating XXXXX?”

Then there’s the question that some people ask about a specific person, like “When are you and Bob going to start dating?” or “Have you thought about dating Charlie?” In many ways, that’s worse.

If Bob or Charlie hasn’t asked her out or shown interest, then the fact is that she doesn’t know what Bob is thinking. She doesn’t know what Charlie’s plans are. There might be all kinds of reasons that she and Bob or she and Charlie aren’t dating. I’ve addressed this before here.  It can be kind of hurtful to think about a specific guy and why he hasn’t asked her out yet.

If he has asked her out, but she’s not interested, she probably doesn’t want to tell you why“He did ask me out, but I wasn’t interested.” She’s probably anticipating the next question: “How high are your standards anyway that you won’t date a George Clooney-meets-Billy Graham-meets-Chris Tomlin?” Not fun getting into that debate.

It’s also embarrassing if he asked her out, but it didn’t work out. “We did go out on a date, but he just kept talking about his mother all the time, while holding onto a blue blankie and I just didn’t think he was ready to be in a relationship.” She doesn’t want to rat him out!

So, as hard as it is sometimes, I have to hold my tongue and not ask “When Are You Going to Start Dating?”

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My love story

I have a great love story.  Really, I do.  You know why?  Cause it’s mine.  So, to me, it’s great.  To other people, they might not think it’s so great. Cause it’s kind of plain jane.  There weren’t any great “I’m breaking up with you.  Wait, no I’m not.  Well, yes I am.  Okay, I’m not.” drama-filled moments.  There hasn’t been any “Let’s move to Costa Rica and have an adventure!” moments either.  To some, it isn’t great because we dated for 11 whole months and were engaged for 9 whole months.  Maybe they think couples should date for a much shorter amount of time.  Others would say longer.

Some would say that it isn’t great because we didn’t get married til our 30s.  Great love stories happen to those in college.  Or just out of college.  Or in high school even.  And yet others would say that truly great love stories happen to the 80-year-old woman who finally marries her high school sweetheart after being seperated for 60+ years. (Okay, I concede, that is a great story!)  But you know what?  I’m pretty fond of my love story.

My sister and I were doing a Bible study (last year!) and one of the questions was along the lines of “List a miracle that you have seen God do in your life.”  My answer: My marriage.  Not in a “It was a really bad marriage, but God helped us turn it around” kind of way or even “I have the best marriage in the world!” kind of way either.  But in a “I think it’s a miracle that I am actually married!” kind of way.

I was talking with a friend the other day who was recounting a date that she recently had been on.  It was a first date and in her mind, the guy did every.single.thing wrong.

  • He texted other people during dinner.
  • He didn’t talk much to her dad when he came to pick her up.
  • He talked on the phone with his mom when he was driving her home.
  • He didn’t open her car door.
  • The meal wasn’t enough food, but he didn’t address the issue by ordering more.

But she still felt like she should go on a second date with him.  The reason why is the weird part to me.  She wasn’t interested in him, but her reason for going on a second date is that she wants to get married.  To get married, you need to be around marry-able men.  So she felt that she had to continue on with the relationship, not because she was interested or because she was willing to give a second chance, but because no dates = no marriage.

To be fair to the gentleman, she also admitted:

  • She didn’t tell him that he was picking her up at her parent’s house.  He knows that she lives with a female roommate and that’s the address he thought he was going to. When her dad answered the door, ir really threw him off.
  • She didn’t ask him to open her car door.  She just stood outside her side of the car until he got the hint, got out of the car and then opened her door.

At any rate, it wasn’t a good first date.  I’m guessing neither one of them left thinking “Wow, that went well!”  (To be honest, I do think there’s a time and a place to give a relationship a second chance (or even a long first chance), but I also don’t think you have to go on a second date when you don’t really like the guy and he doesn’t really appear to be that into you either.)

She wished that she could have a simple love story like I did.  What she doesn’t know is that while my love story is pretty simple, it still had awkwardness.  It still had weird moments and uncomfortable conversations.  It’s a relationship – that happens. 

I’ve written far more today than I’ve meant to — I really just meant to say: Relationships have wacky moments.  All of them do.  (Well, assuming you’re closer than near strangers to each other.)  Over the next while (days?  weeks?  months?), I’ll share some of my love story and show you the wackiness.  Simply because knowing what one other couple went through can help you with your story.  Not because your story will look like mine, but because you should know that we’re normal.  I don’t have them all written or anything, so don’t expect them all this week — this will be an “As I get time” kind of thing.

But I’m excited to start this endeavor!

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Dating in my head

I was listening to a Revive Our Hearts webcast on Singleness featuring Carolyn McCulley the other day. She’s a single woman and was talking about “Dating in Your Head” – the concept that you, as a woman, can have an entire relationship with someone and it’d be just in your head.  He never asked you if you wanted to be in a relationship with him.  He never even indicated that he MIGHT be interested.  But, in your head, you’ve imagined this whole dating relationship – thinking that it just hasn’t started yet.  But it will.

I did that several times when I was single.  It goes something like this:

Meet a guy.

My thoughts “Hey, you’re cute. And nice. And Jesus-loving. And job-having.  And nice.  And you speak to me.  And funny.  And nice.  If you asked me out, I’d say yes.”

Him: “Yes, I do think that the world will end just as it says in Revelation.”

My thoughts: “Oh!  A scholar.  That’s great.  When we start dating, we’ll study the Bible together!”.

Him: “My mom makes the best apple pies…that’s kind of her specialty. She brings it to all the church potlucks.”

My thoughts: “I’ll have to ask his mom to teach me when I met her for the first time.  I’m so glad that he’s dedicated to the church.  We can attend both of our churches on Sunday mornings while we’re dating, but when we get engaged, we should probably pick just one.”

Him: “When Sally and I started dating, we really determined to honor God in our relationship.”

My thoughts: “What!?!?  You’re dating Sally?!  But we were going to start dating.  Any minute now.  Arg!”

How crushing that is when it doesn’t play out as we had planned?!  He didn’t do anything wrong.  And yet, we feel hurt by him.  I probably gave up other opportunities (events or ministries or even people) because I was so concentrated on him.  I didn’t enjoy the “now” because I was focused on the “then” – when we would actually start dating.

I could start talking about how wise it is to guard our hearts and to watch our thoughts, but what really struck me is how I’m STILL doing this.  Not about dating.  I’m not dating someone in my head.  I’m fully and 100% in love with my husband!

But I do this with life.  In my head, I’ve already popped out our 5 boys, we’ve moved to the next house where I’ve decorated bedrooms with bunk beds, and Phinehas is starting kindergarten (having just turned 6 a few months ago).  I’ve got it all pictured in my head.  And none of it has come to pass.  We would like to have more children, but that day isn’t today.  I don’t know that I’ll have 5 boys.  Jeff and I would like to buy a new house someday, but that day isn’t soon.  We don’t know when it will be, we don’t know which house it will be, we don’t know what neighborhood it will be.  We don’t know how we’ll school our kids (homeschooling now being tossed around as a possibility thanks to Dr. Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys book).

It’s not time for me to start picturing these things in my head.  But there I go…dreaming dreams that aren’t here yet.  I used to “Date in My Head”, but now I “Live in My Head”.  And just like before, I’m not fully enjoying the now.  Save money for the next house, sure, but enjoy what I got.  Cause I got alot!

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The great divide

There exists a great divide, I once thought, is between marrieds and singles.

When single, I often vacillated between thinking that there was hardly any difference at all between single women and married women and thinking that there was a world of difference between the two groups.  Sometimes, I couldn’t even begin to relate to married women.  Other times, I saw their lives being so much like mind – they just had a husband and probably children and I didn’t.

Then I got married.  And then I believed that there was a HUGE difference between singleness and marriedness.  I believed that for a while.  And it’s true – the things that I was worried about and the way I structured my day were different from when I was single. When I was single, I didn’t meal plan.  I didn’t check my schedule against another’s all that often.  I spent my money as I wished.  I didn’t have a cleaning plan.  I didn’t even have a bedtime!  I got married and that changed.  I planned meals.  I developed a cleaning schedule.  My schedule was always checked against Jeff’s schedule and desires.  I had a set bedtime.  It seemed SOOO different.

Then I had a baby.  And a weird thing happened – instead of thinking of how even more different my life is now compared to when I was single, my life is starting to seem more the same.  Granted, my day-to-day life is radically different from when I was single – even more different from when I was just married, but no kids.  But I don’t see those outward things like activities as much as I used to.  I see the internal things more.

  • When I was single, I desired to be married.  I never knew if or when I would.  Now? I desire more kids, but I don’t know if or when I will.
  • When I was single, I wished I had more money to spend.  Now? I still wish I had more money to spend. 
  • When I was single, I wanted to be friends with the cool kids.  Now? I still want to be friends with them.
  • When I was single, I had moments of such loneliness.  Now? I still have moments like that at times.  Being married to someone doesn’t automatically make you not lonely.
  • When I was single, I wanted everyone to think that I had it all together. Now?  I still want that.
  • When I was single, I had moments where I felt forgotten by God.  Now?  I have moments where I feel forgotten by God.

Kids. Money.  Friends. Loneliness. I still have those same concerns, feelings and desires – but the nuances surrounding them is just slightly different.  If I had more money, I’d probably spend it differently than I would have when I was single.  My loneliness looks slightly different.  I still want to impress people – I now have marriage and parenting to add to the arenas in which I want to impress them.

Single Jayme and Married Jayme aren’t so different.

 

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A gal whom I don’t even know wrote a blog post about things that people say to single women that can be hurtful.  Please go read that post!

The gist of it is that I think married people (and sometimes other single people) want to be helpful and encouraging, but they say things that aren’t at all helpful and encouraging – without even realizing it.  I made a couple of comments on her blog, but I’ll re-iterate them here.

It’s kind of like a woman who is battling infertility.  I’ve never been through infertility, but I think the situations are similiar.  In both cases, women are longing for something that is good and right and normal to want.  In both cases, action is needed on the part of the woman (no one accidentally gets married or pregnant), but in both cases, it’s not 100% in their control.

When women are battling infertility, they sometimes want people to give them advice on why or what they can do to get out of the battle and into pregnancy.  But chances are that they don’t want that advice from you.  They want that advice from their doctor or their best-friend-forever or from the-gal-who-has-been-there-and-come-out-okay-on-the-other-side.

Same for single women.  They sometimes want advice on why they are single or how they can increase their odds of getting married.  But, again, chances are that they don’t want that advice from you.  They want it from their mentor or their best-friend-forever or from the recently-married-lady-who-has-married-well-and-knows-a-bit-about-their-life-and-can-give-valid-feedback.

What women usually want from other people is acknowledgement that it must be hard, not pithy answers like:

  • “God will give you a husband/baby when you’re not looking/trying.”
  • “I don’t know why you don’t have a husband/baby when you’re so cute/would be a good mom.”
  • “You don’t need a husband/baby to be happy.”
  • “God will give you a husband/baby eventually since you desire it.”

As much as people probably/hopefully mean well, those words can sting.  Far better to just say “That really must hurt.  How would you like me to pray for you?” And then actually pray for them!

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A bunch of women were interviewed to find out the characteristics of the perfect man.  Among his qualities, this ‘perfect man':

  • calls his mom
  • has a driver’s license
  • wants a family
  • is educated to a degree level
  • earns more than his partner
  • in fact, he earns $77,000 year

These are good.  I agree that women do want a man who stays in touch with his family, can support the family of his own that he wants, and has the education and skills to do so (one of which being driving a car!).  I can totally see that.

But, the ‘perfect man’ also has these qualities:

  • drinks beer
  • drives an Audi
  • can swim
  • can get ready in 17 minutes, but likes shopping
  • admits it when he looks at other women
  • watches soaps

Check out the full list – some of them are quite ridiculous.  When I was looking for a husband, I couldn’t have cared less if he swam.  I wasn’t looking for a man with a certain type of car.  Or who spent ‘x’ number of minutes getting ready.  And I certainly didn’t want a man who ‘admitted that he looks at other women’…I wanted a man who didn’t look at other women!  And I never specified that he had to wear smart jeans or a v-neck jumper.  What are smart jeans anyway?  And I don’t usually like the look of men in a v-neck.

My best guess is that in order to come up with a list like that, the coversation went something like this:

Interviewer:  “Imagine you married the perfect man and you’re at the ceach.  Imagine your 4-year-old goes into the ocean too far and starts to drown.  Does the perfect man go in after her?”

Lady: “Yes, of course!” 

Interviewer: “Okay, next question…does the perfect man know how to drive a car or is it okay that his mom gives him a lift where ever he needs to go?”

Lady: “He should know how to drive a car!”

Interviewer: “Thank you.  Now what kind of car does he drive – a smart car or an Audi?”

Lady: “Well, an Audi sounds nice.”

Interviewer: “It is very nice.  Good choice.  Now imagine it’s the Super Bowl and the perfect man is going with his buddies to the pub to watch the game (you know, so you don’t have to sit through a dumb game).  What kind of beverage does the perfect man order at the pub?”

Lady: “Umm…a beer?”

Interviewer: “Very refreshing.  Now let’s pretend that you and the perfect man overslept in the morning and you have 17 minutes to get ready to leave.  How many minutes should it take the perfect man to get ready?” 

Lady: “No more than 17 minutes.”

Interviewer: “Makes sense.  So your perfect man must drive an Audi, drink beer, get ready in 17 minutes and must be able to swim.”

Lady: “I guess so.”

Otherwise, I just don’t know how an individual woman can come up with a list that specific.  So, ladies when you’re putting together a list of qualities you want in a husband, don’t use their list.

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It’s still another tale as old as time.  Boy likes girl.  Boy pursues girl.  Boy proposes to girl. Girl says yet.  Boy wonders ‘Now what?’

Here’s the 5th and final part of advice from women for men – this time on getting engaged.  See part 1 for advice on how to get to know us without scaring us off, part 2 for advice on asking us out, part 3 for what we find important in relationships, and part 4 on learning from past relationships.

Here’s what you ladies said:

If seriously dating or engaged, what did you expect to change in your relationship as you transition to the next stage?

  • Making adjustments in time for each other. I didn’t think it was soo important but it is!
  • If we get engaged, we can talk more specifically about the next steps in our future – where we would live, what our wedding would be like, how to spend our money, etc.
  • Engagement would give me even more security in our relationship.  His promise to marry me and love me forever would mean the world to me.
  • I would expect that the “finding out more about the other person” stage of conversation and activities would tone down a little, as you’ve basically decided that the person and yourself are compatible, and suitably matched.
  • I guess I’d expect more specific planning and logistics to be taking place (thinking about the future / wedding / where to live etc.) and also that each person would be able to relax with the other, and just be themselves, completely.
  • More talking!
  • I was semi-engaged once because I thought engagement would fix our problems and give me more peace about the relationship.  I was wrong.
  • I guess I would hope for peace and security, knowing I was with someone who wouldn’t leave me.
  • I expect that I have trusted this guy to the point of becoming my best friend as I should be his.  I hope that he is the one I talk to first about life-changing decisions as he should with me.
  • I would expect that I have enough respect for him to follow his lead as our family starts to develop.
  • I would expect we enough about each other’s dirty laundry (emotionally speaking) that we can understand each other.  I also expect that the connection between us is strong enough for us to live together for a life time.
  • We went ‘facebook official’.
  • We started calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • We expressed that we were in a relationship to see if it would be wise and God-honoring for us to get married.
  • Not much from dating->engaged other than we started marriage counseling and planned a wedding.  We did talk about more personal things – WHEN will we plan to have children, how will we avoid having children right away, what should our budget look like, what will daily life look like, how often do you think you’ll want to be intimate.  Some of that we kind of, sort of, maybe talked about before engagement, but it was really general – yes, we’d like children someday, but not a honeymoon baby, it’s important to tithe and we like life insurance and vacations, we both work 9-to-5 jobs and don’t like to be out every night of the week.  But when you get engaged, you can start making real decisions.

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It’s yet another tale as old as time.  Boy likes girl.  Boy wants to pursue girl.  Boy doesn’t know what girl has learned from past relationships.  What she’s appreciated.  What she hasn’t.  Boy doesn’t want to be the same as past boys in girl’s life, but if there are things she likes, boy wants to know that.

Here’s part 4 of advice from women for men – this time on learning from past relationships.  See part 1 for advice on how to get to know us without scaring us off, part 2 for advice on asking us out and part 3 for what we find important in relationships.

Here’s what you ladies said:

Once in a relationship, what have men you have dated done well in the past?

  • That my boyfriend carves out time to be with me. Seeking to fulfill little needs.
  • Wanting to know the progress on my work projects or something that I’ve mentioned that needs to get done.
  • His own investment in his self-improvement and health/nutritional needs. I found it so attractive that he’d jog almost every morning just to keep fit!
  • Seeking my opinion on both little and important matters. Such as, “Do you like my beard? Should grow it or shave it?” I told him, “Shave all of it off as you’ve been doing but keep the side burns because I find that attractive, haha!”
  • Brought up serious issues (career, family, money) gradually and being willing to discuss those issues.
  • My boyfriend (of almost a year and a half) is really great about telling me that he loves me every day.  Every day.  I don’t wonder if he still cares, because even if we have a disagreement or something, he is quick to reassure me that he loves me.  He does lots of little things to show his love – stops and picks up flowers for me on the way over to my house, plays me a song on his iPod that made him think of me, buys me a little gift that he knows I will like, etc.
  • My love language is acts of service.  So when he offers to take my car in for an oil change I feel so loved! Or when he buys me light bulbs because my kitchen light has been burned out for a week, I feel cared for. Super simple, but it means a lot to me. And it’s cliche, but I love flowers! Especially, unexpected flowers.  It’s the middle of the week, random flowers for no reason other than to show that he cares that are awesome.
  • Be honest about the relationship, even if it is bad news.
  • Respected my faith.
  • Been themselves and let me see a piece of their life.
  • Been very considerate, been willing to volunteer information about themselves and their lives (at the right time) without demanding the same, been open about their position in life and their hopes for the relationship.
  • Invited me into his world: allowed me to see him in professional and casual contexts.
  • Sacrificially invested time out of a very busy schedule.
  • Prayed over our relationship.
  • Invited counsel from his parents.
  • Initiated letter writing as a supplement to face-to-face time.
  • Knowing limits and boundaries.
  • Known what I would enjoy and politely not asking or declining invitations that would make either of us uncomfortable.
  • Been a gentleman and treated me like a lady.
  • Made decisions instead of leaving it up to me all the time.
  • NOT lead me on when he realized he didn’t feel the same way I did.
  • Welcomed me into his friendship group.
  • Been up-front about actually dating instead of “just seeing where this goes”.
  • Flowers always win points!  Even though I am not a flower person, I still love to get them.  A text message once sometime during the day.
  • When he and I are on a date, I am the only girl that has his attention.
  • Been intentional … not making me wonder what he was thinking or what his plans were.
  • Been thoughtful … of me especially, but also of the friends and family members already in his life, and of my family and friends.
  • Send special cards just because.
  • Bringing up areas that need to be discussed … taking leadership in conversations, especially in areas of kids, roles in marriage, etc.  That can be awkward for us to bring up.
  • Keep calling them dates – it’s fun that way!  When you’ve been dating for 6 months and you still get asked “Will you go on a date with me on Friday”, that’s fun…even if it’s the same thing you do every week!
  • Appreciate any gestures that I make, even if they don’t turn out the way I wanted them to.

Once in a relationship, what have men you have dated done that you have not appreciated?

  • Rushing towards plans for marriage when I was still getting used to the idea of being in a relationship.
  • Seeing me as a “wife material” and not wanting to develop the friendship aspect first. It was sooo disappointing! I want a friend in my future husband too!
  • Not been communicative – calling because they feel obligated to, but not actually having anything to say.
  • Not having a plan for where our relationship was going.
  • One time, we were on a road trip, and he wouldn’t let me help give directions.  Seems like men don’t like being told which way to turn…maybe that’s not exclusive to dating relationships!
  • Be late.  I feel uncared for when my time is not valued and I’m left waiting for him.
  • Calling Saturday night at 7 and expecting to have a date–really?  After not calling me all week and not making any effort to grow or move forward in the relationship or have any sort of “defining” of the relationship?
  • Not introducing me to any friends or areas of importance in their life–makes me feel like I’m just something to do in their leftover time.
  • Continued complimenting me, and being particular in their flattering comments, even after stating that they saw the relationship as “just friends” and not going any further.
  • Trying to hold on too tight to a relationship, once they had ended it.
  • Asked me what I like to cook. I felt like I was being interviewed for a job, though I’m sure that wasn’t the intent. Probably it came across this way because he had trouble asking get-to-know-you questions about more serious topics.
  • The one person I dated acted overly protective and treated me like a fragile flower. This was hurtful to me because I’ve always been independent. He didn’t respect me as a person in that aspect. He didn’t treat me as an inferior but he didn’t respect me at the same time. Talk down to or about me.
  • Pressured me for sex.  UGH.  This is my big issue because it happens so often and I HATE HATE HATE it.
  • Refused to admit we are dating.
  • Purchased gifts for me that were just not my thing at all (I don’t like gifts).
  • Tricked me into taking a phone call with his mother before meeting her.
  • Got me drunk without me realizing how much I was drinking.
  • Failed to be appropriate in public (e.g. public kissing, oversharing, etc)
  • Blame game comes to mind.  Blaming others for your own misfortune. Blaming the girl for being a temptress, blaming the economy for bad finances, blaming the ex for a broken relationship . . . Is the guy ready to own up to his own responsibilty?  We all have said and done things with regrets, the question is: Have you learned from them? If so, what to prevent it from happening again?
  • Don’t laugh at me! Don’t check out other girls.  Ever. Don’t let me know that I’m not really your “type”, but you’re dating me anyway.  Would you like to add to my insecurities?!

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It’s yet another tale as old as time.  Boy likes girl.  Boy wants to pursue girl.  Boy doesn’t really know what the important stuff is, to that girl anyway.  Boy wonders what he should focus on in this new relationship.

Here’s part 3 of advice from women for men – this time on what we find important in relationships.  See part 1 for advice on how to get to know us without scaring us off and part 2 for advice on asking us out.

Here’s what you ladies said:

In your relationships, past or present, what is the most important thing to you?

  • Spending time together. Seeking to get to know each other.
  • Trustworthiness
  • COMMUNICATION. Have you heard that one before? It’s crazy how just about every issue and problem that has come up in my current relationship could have been avoided with better communication.
  • He has to love Jesus.  If he doesn’t love Jesus, or church is just something that he does because he is “supposed” to go, there are going to be some major problems down the road.
  • That he loves God and encourages me to do the same. That the person listens. That they care about people in general, including me.
  • Does he love the Lord? Does he make his family a priority? Are we intersted in some of the same things? Are we going in the same direction? Does he treat others with kindness and respect?
  • Honesty, and the ability to talk things through with openness…even if it’s hard.
  • Someone who is willing to be real! By which I mean genuinely, openly himself without trying too hard to impress me. Being willing to open up (at an appropriate level, of course).  Being willing to talk about things that matter to him. Being real. I want someone who is comfortable enough around me to be themselves. Also, someone who is willing to ask me tough questions and willing to talk about harder subjects and not act like everything is okay.
  • Respect.  Respect of my mind, my family and my body.
  • Our ability to TALK to each other.  That overrules everything else.  If we have conversational chemistry, the rest will flow.
  • Spiritual ground.  Laughter.  Respect.
  • Communicate well.  Even if we disagree on some pretty big stuff, if we can talk about it, there’s a huge sense of harmony in the relationship.  I DON’T DO DRAMA!
  • Respect.  Knowing that you aren’t my all-in-all – you don’t get my entire life.  I will do things without you.  I won’t always give you input on the decisions that I need to make.  Especially in the early days.

While in the early stages of a relationship (i.e. dating, but not dating for long), what can a man do to discourage you?

  • To give me the “I’m too busy to call you/to return your calls” signal.
  • Inconsistent display of interest. On and off silent treatment. It makes the lady emotionally insecure. She is not sure whether the guy is interested in her or not and she makes all kinds of assumptions about where the relationship is going or not going.
  • Demonstrate a lack of commitment to the church/his faith.
  • Press for physical involvement.
  • I would be discouraged if my boyfriend were to say something negative about me in front of my friends.
  • Ignore me.
  • Tell me too much about his past too soon.
  • Be rude to people (waitress, friends, people in other cars).
  • Show me he doesn’t have high moral standards.
  • Not listen when I express my opinion (even if he doesn’t feel the same way, he still should be respectful enough to listen).
  • Disrespect/make fun of others around us (like out at a restaurant, or bringing up people in his life)
  • Talking a good game, but actions obviously not matching those words.
  • Treating me as part of the “master plan” for his life (like the wife box on his to-do list would be checked off now with me).  It becomes quite impersonal and goal-oriented, and doesn’t really regard anyone’s feelings.
  • Assuming that he can read my mind and knows my opinions after just a couple dates–so he starts making choices for me, like what to eat, things “we” like to do.
  • Becoming possessive, displaying major insecurities, or conversely, giving little direction to his intent with the relationship.
  • Take the time to see me, but not use that time wisely to actually get to know me and allow me to get to know him.
  • If they are getting ahead of themselves and hinting about marriage. Though I believe that you shouldn’t date just to date, bringing up marriage too early can be very bad- I need time to get to know someone.
  • Back out of things….like he found something better to do.
  • Pressure me for sex – Propose too soon – Make me feel like a child
  • Explain clearly his life goals that are incompatible with who I am.
  • Tell me he isn’t attracted to me.
  • Tell me he’s still in love with someone else and has realized he isn’t over her yet.
  • Date other people too.
  • If I notice there are addictions or some deep hurt that hasn’t been dealt with in a way that would bring healing to that person.
  • If I see rage (not anger) is something that could be an issue.  At this point in the relationship, I am trying to find out if there is anything I don’t want to support in this man if we entered into a more serious relationship.
  • Not responding to emails/calls … basically, not investing time to talk.
  • Being rude.
  • Make fun of me!  Seriously, if you laugh AT me (which is different than laughing WITH me) or mock me in anyway, I will back off!

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It’s another tale as old as time.  Boy likes girl.  Boy wants to pursue girl.  Boy decides to ask girl on a date.  Boy wonders what that means for him.  Boy wonders what he should do to maximize his chances of getting a ‘Yes’.

Here’s part 2 of advice from women for men – this time on asking us women out.  See part 1 for advice on how to get to know us without scaring us off.  That will help you get your ‘Yes’.

Here’s what you ladies said:

What types of things should a man consider when planning a date for a woman?

  • How long they have known each other? If they are meeting for the first time, as in a blind date set up by a trusted person, I’d say do a lunch or coffee date in a public place. If it’s possible meeting at group gathering would lessen 1st date tensions.
  • Actually have a plan! It’s ok to have several possibilities and ask which I would prefer, but at least have thought of something rather than asking me what I think we should do.
  • We like you to have a plan. It usually isn’t about what we do, but you letting us know that you put thought into our time together.  Though it may seem like we appreciate you asking, “What do you want to do,” sometimes it is nice for you to plan the entire night and we just get to enjoy it with you!
  • Think about what she would like, and events/activities you could both enjoy. Even though going to a sporting event (for example) might be your idea of the perfect date, she might really hate sports (different for everyone!). It’s nice to know he’s thinking about you when he plans.
  • You don’t have to spend loads of money!  A little creativity and thought can mean a lot more than an expensive dinner.
  • Appropriate level of intimacy – It might not be a good idea to go for an intimate candlelight dinner for two on the first date. A casual ice cream date might be more appropriate and less intimidating!
  • Get to know her enough to know what she likes. Find mutual interests. You both will have more fun on a date if you both will enjoy the planned event. You will both be more relaxed and apt to be more yourself. Just find a place that is casual and fun, somewhere that you can both be yourselves and have an easy time to talk.  Do you both like football? Go to a game.  Like to be outside?  Maybe a hike.  Have friends in common?
  • Consider a group outing.  Her comfort level, that she feels safe in whatever situation he’s planned, that the date is not conveying more to her than he intends (ie. super romantic dinner, with slow dancing afterwards, if he’s still unsure if he’s intentionally interested)
  • Keep the atmosphere in line with the stage of the relationship: save the romantic setting for later on.
  • Keep the dates shorter when you’re first getting to know one another. An all-day outing for the first date is just too emotionally exhausting, even if it’s going well.
  • Keep it simple. I would rather go hang out at a coffee shop then have a huge event planned. Dress nicely- not too nice but show that you care about making a good impression, that a girl is important enough to take more time getting ready. Also, have a set time limit for the date. Maybe if you go out at 7 have her home before 10. That way if she really likes you then she will want another date to get to know you more. I went on a date once that didn’t end until I finally had to say that I wanted to go home. I didn’t like being in that position.
  • He should consider what he knows about her. He should also consider how they are developing as a couple too.  Going to a car race might for a 1st date, but maybe we enjoy that type of thing together.  I want to believe guys think a lot about how to have time together.
  • Something that would allow for good conversations.
  • Having some good questions/discussion topics in mind beforehand can be helpful … keep the conversation going.
  • Her personality. Her security.  Women hate feeling insecure (I’m sure men do as well) – physically and emotionally. Don’t take me any place on a first date that’s super expensive.  Coffee is fine.  Applebees is fine. Offer to pick me up, but be okay if I’m not quite ready for that yet.  Just meeting you there is okay.
  • For introverts who have a hard time articulating goals, dreams, and convictions, it might be helpful to plan a conversation topic before a date so they can be thinking about it ahead of time. The book “101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged” might be a useful resource for a guy who has trouble initiating more purposeful conversation.

What kinds of things do you look for in considering an invitation to a date?

  • Whether I might be interested in getting to know him, if we aren’t already friends.
  • Whether I feel safe with him, if I already know him.
  • Mainly it’s about whether I want to get to know the person better; the specifics of what we will be doing are not important.
  • Be specific.  If you want it to be a “date,” then ask us on a date.  Don’t let us think that it is a date if it is not, and also, don’t ask us to “hang out” if you are really planning on it being more of a date.
  • It is nice to know what kind of a date it will be.  We do spend a lot of time picking out the perfect outfit and getting dolled up for you gentlemen, so it would be nice to know if we are going to a nice dinner, or something like horseback riding.  :)
  • Do I want to get to know him more? Is he a Christian man of character?
  • Have they said or done anything to peek my interest: something we have in common, have qualities that I am looking for (funny, smart etc.), can I tell if we will have fun together. If so, I am willing to go out and see if we are a ‘match’ and can take things further.
  • Is he truly interested in knowing who I am? Will we have things to talk about and possibly have a good time?
  • Adaptability (I don’t actually believe in typical “dating” so would look for someone who was willing to work with that), and that the man makes it as comfortable as possible to accept or decline. Do I (or somebody I trust) know him well enough to make me feel safe? Maybe this is too obvious, but it becomes more of an issue if you frequently meet strangers.
  • One part is if I find them attractive, it’s not a huge part of the decision but if the person isn’t someone I would want to spend time with then why waste his time? The main thing is seeing their personality, I want to get to know him. Especially if I’m interested then I want to know if we get along. Also, probably the biggest, is does that person have similar beliefs as me? It’s okay if I don’t completely know their heart or beliefs on a first date but I would want to have an idea of if the are a believer and then ask about it on that date. Hygiene….manners….respect.
  • Is he male, single and doesn’t smell bad?  I will say yes!  (I say yes to most guys these days.)  I used to be a lot pickier but have chilled out a lot over the years.
  • Where is he spiritually? Where is he emotionally?  Where is he financially?  If have some clue to these 3 ideas it helps to influence my decision.  I also assess how comfortable I feel around the guy.  There isn’t a lot of requirements for me to say yes.  I find that if a man shows bravery I am inclined to say yes.  If I am not interested in a relationship, I will make that very clear on that first date as to not expect more from me beyond that point.  However, if on the date, I find out: “This guy is worth getting to know more deeply” then I am also inclined to go out with him until the relationship doesn’t work any more.
  • Can I stand talking to you for a decent amount of time? If we’ve spent 5 minutes talking, do I want nothing more than to be far, far, far away from you?  If so, I probably won’t accept.
  • I do consider other things: am I free that night?  Is there someone else that I’ve pinned my hopes on?
  • I have an attaction to a broad range of men.  Sweet, caring, and compassionate are the personality traits I am looking for.  I have seen this men that are burly, take life by the horns and move, and men that are more home-bodies that make decisions more quietly.  I don’t want to limit my self to: Does he play music or drive a truck?  There is no right or wrong way to be a man.  Just be you.  Remember God created both Jacob and Esau. “Guys, go FIND a girl … we are so grateful when you take the initiative!
  • Be thoughtful of the other women in your life – I was very impressed when I saw how my boyfriend treated his sister.
  • You staying pure and guarding what you look at (magazines, tv, internet) makes us feel incredibly cherished.

What are reasons you may have for saying no to a date?

  • In the past my reasons were mostly limited to fear. Fear that it wouldn’t work out and be all awkward and probably some fear that it WOULD work out and then everything in my life would be different. I haven’t been asked on a date in so long at this point that I can’t think of any good reason to say no.
  • I’m simply not interested in the guy. Or that I’m already exploring a relationship. Not a christian. I simply don’t date non-christians. I always have to know this about a potential date if somebody is setting us up. However, I do understand that sometimes one might not know this beforehand.
  • I know that I don’t want to get to know the person beyond the acquaintances/casual friends stage and I don’t want to lead him on if I already know that I am not interested in a dating relationship with a guy, I probably won’t go on a “date” with him.
  • Not wanting to lead him on if I don’t think there’s a chance of it going anywhere (but err on the side of giving him a chance)
  • If I’ve personally witnessed things that make me question his faith, character, or if he is generally unloving to others… then I am not interested.
  • If I don’t see any potential. If they have said things that I know I am against/not have the morals I esteem highly. If the time I have spent with the thus far has been boring or annoying.
  • I don’t think we are on the same page spiritually (Not that you can’t work together–I am talking about him even having the Book to have a spiritual page.  I get asked out a lot by non-Christians.)
  • He is shorter than me (Sorry, this sounds really shallow, I know, but I am tall and it really bugs me.)
  • If the man’s character was in question, if I didn’t know him well enough, if the date was too one-on-one for an initial date. Maybe attending a group activity, specifically as the man’s particular friend would put me more at ease. If there any obvious, legitimate reasons why I don’t think this could lead to marriage, and I don’t want to lead him on. If I don’t have the time/money. If I don’t feel peace in my heart about it — and that’s different than simply stepping outside my comfort zone. I’m not interested- if it’s a person that I would never consider dating in the first place then I won’t agree to a date. Another is if their belief system is very different from mine, I want someone who values the same things I do. Hygiene…..manners…..respect.
  • If he makes me uncomfortable.
  • If he has been recently dating my best friend.
  • (Sorry to say this because it makes me sound shallow, but…) If you are a very different level of fitness to me.
  • If you have a disability I am not familiar with.
  • If I catch major “red flags” like He’s been divorced, 2 or more times, Age difference is more than 10 years (while I’ll still consider guys beyond that range, but it is a case-by-case basis), Who he presents himself as, and whom he says he is are two different types of men.
  • Not interested in the guy, or if I already know we wouldn’t be compatible for certain reasons.
  • I might be in the beginning of a relationship with someone else.  While he and I might not have declared ourselves to be exclusive, I might be hoping that we will and don’t want to unnecessarily encourage you.
  • I might just be super busy/stressed at the moment.  If you’ve asked me while I’m preparing to take my nursing boards, probably not the best moment in my life.  If that’s the case though and I’m interested, I’ll probably ask you if I can say yes, but schedule it for a couple of weeks out.

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