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?”