If you are not called to celibacy and you desire and feel called to marry, as I see it we often struggle in at least one of three ways. Some can’t get a date, some can’t get from a date to more, and some can’t make a commitment to marriage. I’ve been all three of those guys at one time or another in my 20+ years of singleness.
Here at this blog we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the first one. We’ve talked about attraction, what do we do when we are attracted and how do we approach women etc. We’ve talked a little about the third group. The idea that men can’t make a commitment is sort of an overblown sentiment. True there are some fears, habits, and various other things that can create that situation. But it’s not as many men as people make it out to be. At least not men that are following Jesus and living purely. I’ll have some more to say about this group later.
But today I want to focus on the second group. In one way or another, I think there are a lot of people stuck here.
One of the problems we need to address is the second (third, fourth) date. I know for me, there were many times where I could get the first date. Not only that, but I could do a great first date. And I don’t just mean put on a show for the night. I mean be me, and create chemistry.
But after the first date is where things always seemed to get stuck. There are several different reasons for this. Let me address a few.
First of all, in our evangelical dating world there is a misplaced pressure that says essentially that if you start “dating” then you need to be pretty sure this is going toward marriage. I mean we want to be sure to not lead anyone on and of course guard their heart. As completely insane as this idea is, I for sure often fell victim to it. If I wasn’t sure that I wanted it to go a long way, I would be hesitant to take it to the next step. My encouragement would be to almost reverse it. I think you can go out several times without knowing anything about where it is going. Now I’m not saying string her along. And for sure don’t tell her how you feel or even promise exclusivity until you’re ready. But you don’t have to figure it all out right away. That’s unrealistic.
Ok with that out of the way, let’s get practical. One of the problems is that anyone can come up with a great first date or two. Good chemistry is often easy to create on the front end. Especially if you keep it somewhat brief. Things are new and you’re getting to know about each other. You’re both somewhat attracted or you wouldn’t be there.
But the next couple of dates are key. Let me offer a couple of helpful ideas. Perhaps our commenters will have others.
For starters I think it’s a good idea, when possible to not make the first few dates super long. In other words early on, less can often be more. Secondly, and I often failed here, I think you are better off early on figuring out something to go do, not just talking. You need to create some shared experience. You don’t have as much to talk about if you don’t know each other yet. Just go spend time together.
You go out for a drink or dinner on the first date that’s fine. You get the initial questions out of the way and see if there is connection. But doing that on date two and heaven forbid date three begins to get tedious because you don’t have enough to talk about yet. Go play together or go to a play together. Something. This does several things. It creates an “us” because you are doing it together. If you lead well here, it also shows that you are a person that does things and you are inviting her along rather than just sitting there at the third restaurant in as many weeks.
In other words as simple as this sounds, go have fun together. Don’t turn every date into an interview or theological conversation. Do what you do and invite her. Then as you find out more about what she likes to do, work that in as well. The goal here is to turn down the pressure and turn up the fun. Then figure out after a few times together if you both want to move into an exclusive relationship.
I want to say something to the ladies here as well. I was recently talking with a friend who had gone out with a guy who she knew was a good Christian guy. It’s not that she didn’t have a good time, but she wasn’t blown away or excited. She sort of wanted to like him, but didn’t feel instant attraction. I asked her if she thought he was a good man and potentially a good husband. She said yes. I then told her that there are a lot of guys who don’t quite know how to create attraction or aren’t so sure of themselves early on in dating, but once they get going, they actually are really good leaders and will be good husbands. She said she’d give him another date or two. That was several months ago. She is now super into him and they are in a relationship. Bottom line, if you see a guy who is a good leader at work, church, and other such things, has good character and is a solid man, give him an extra date or two before you jump ship.
Here are a few questions to think about. Where do you get stuck? First date? Second or third? What have you found to be helpful here?