There’s a group of older business men that I get the opportunity to meet with a few times a year. These are men that I look up to and frankly most of the time I have no business being in the room, but hey they like me, and if they invite me there is no way I’m not showing up.
But a funny thing happens every single time. After all the hand shakes and back slaps as we sit down with a drink or cigar or whatever, when the conversation turns to me the first question every time is “Are you dating anyone?” or “So hows the love life?” It’s always without fail the first question. Now these guys love me and they are genuinely interested. They’re not just making small talk. They are being intentional and asking for real, which I appreciate and am honored by.
However, I feel like this is often the first question married people ask single people in Christian community. And if its not the first question you almost never leave without it being asked. There’s this assumption that if I’m single then I must be wanting to be married and I must be wanting to talk about it.
There are some serious problems with this. First of all while most single people do desire a spouse, it is not all that we are thinking about and doing with our life. For example I have a lot going on in my ministry and in other areas of my personal life. It would be nice to be asked how some of that was going first. Heck ask me about my new car or how is stuff at my house. Part of this by the way is that we never ask each other the deep questions like how we are doing with Jesus, what are we fearing right now, what is hurting us or firing us up etc. We like to ask the easy questions. (Are you dating anyone is often an “easy” question as is how’s the wife and kids – especially when really we often don’t want the real answers)
Secondly we as singles have to fight against having our identity in our singleness. We have to fight to follow Jesus first and have our identity in that – let’s talk about that. We need your help here. We have a lot going on besides our desire to be married – ask us about it.
Now before you go being mad at married people for asking this question all the time it’s a good idea to ask yourself if that is what you always talk and think about. If it is always what seems to be most important to you, then the people who love you will always be asking you about it first.
What I’ve realized with these men is that over and over again it’s what I’ve brought to them. In fact they have walked with me through a lot of my relationships and lack there of. If when they ask me how I’m doing, I always lead with that area of my life, then I have no right to be frustrated by the fact that they always ask about it. In truth there have been many seasons in my life where the “search” has dominated my thoughts, emotions, and identity. I’ve set them up to ask about that first.
The point here isn’t that we don’t need to spend time talking about this area of our life because we most certainly do. It’s just that we need to ask more questions about more things. We need to have some conversations where we don’t talk about it all. We need to not fall into a default mode of talking about dating and/or lack of dating and therefore accidentally defining ourselves or others by it. Single people need to not be defined by singleness and to be honest married people need to not be defined by marriage. We need to be defined by Jesus.
Married people – what do you ask your single friends about? Single people – do you always lead with your dating life?
So true, Justin. I get that question quite a bit. Especially in the Christian culture which often identifies God’s will with marriage and children. I do believe that 99% that ask genuinely mean well but my love life is far from the core part of who I am and what I’m doing!
It is similar to the first question I get so often when people find out I’m a youth pastor for the first time or we are catching up on life – “So …. how many are in your youth group?” 😉
I totally think people mean well. It’s really no different than the “hows the wife and kids” question. Ok maybe it’s a little different. . . but same general area.
I love that you point us to Christ. He needs to be our focus whether we are married or single. Amen!
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